San Luis Obispo expands Safe Parking Program

A program that provides a safe, legal place for people to sleep in their vehicles overnight in San Luis Obispo can now provide seven parking spaces.

The San Luis Obispo Planning Commission recently voted unanimously to allow two additional parking spaces at the Prado Day Center — expanding the number from five — and to make the program, which has been in a pilot phase for two years, permanent.

The Safe Parking pilot program was launched in March 2012 at the Prado Day Center after increased enforcement by police left many homeless people camping on the streets with no place to go.

Grace McIntosh, deputy director at Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, said there are no plans to expand the program beyond the seven spaces.

Only one vehicle is currently enrolled in the program, but McIntosh said she expects others to fill the vacancies soon.

“The number of people enrolled in the program ebbs and flows,” McIntosh said. “In the last four or five weeks, we have seen the results of our sobriety policy and our tightening up. Those spaces will definitely be filled. We just want to make sure we have the right household in there.”

CAPSLO transitioned to a sobriety-based program in June, which led to some people being kicked out.

In the program’s first year, 18 adults representing 13 households, including 10 seniors, were enrolled. Of those, four households found housing.

The average length of a Safe Parking stay was about six months.

Since July 1, nine adults, including six seniors, have participated in the program. Of those, one person found housing out of state.

Safe Parking participants are required to enroll in case management, be sober and have current vehicle registration, insurance and a valid driver’s license.

People who have lived in San Luis Obispo County for a minimum of six months are given priority.