It’s been nearly a year since its local inception, and city officials and social services organizations have reported enough of a success to merit expanding the San Luis Obispo parking ordinance—designed to regulate overnight parking on city streets—in the near future.
Ahead of the ordinance’s appearance before the city council in August, the public will get several chances to scrutinize a draft that would lay the ground rules for possibly expanding the program to allow certain homeless persons to sleep overnight in their vehicles in a controlled and city-approved environment in May, according to city officials.
Currently, the pilot safe parking program is limited to only six vehicles and is offered exclusively at the Prado Day Center and operated by the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo.
At an April 15 workshop at the county library, roughly 20 people—including city staffers, three council members, and a very small contingency of the public—gathered to see where the city was in its effort to establish permit requirements and performance standards for any viable location that may participate in the future.
To be clear, the program isn’t being run by the city, explained Community Development Department Housing Programs Manager Tyler Corey, but it is the city’s job to regulate where and how the program can operate.
In drafting the rules, the city reached out to various stakeholder groups over the course of four workshops since November and ran a city-wide online survey for input, which staffers say garnered some 350 responses.
According to the current rules, members of the public looking to participate in the program must enroll in case management through CAPSLO (with preference to individuals with local ties) and submit to background checks and drug screenings. The new rules address the lots that would house additional programs; as they’re currently drafted, such locations would be required to apply for a use permit, a buffer would need to exist between the location and residential areas, the number of vehicles couldn’t conflict with surrounding neighborhood density, there would need to be significant separation between program locations, and the location must be near public transit access.
The sites would also have to provide restroom and trash facilities, a mechanism to deal with complaints, appropriate lighting, and monitoring.
The across-the-board rules are designed to cover most bases, but not overburden any person or organization interested in participating.
“There was a feeling of not wanting to [include] overbearing details,” Corey said.
City council candidate Kevin Rice asked if there would be any metrics for quality assurance of any new program operators; Corey explained that such requirements would be part of a final ordinance to ensure that the program is actually helping people make successful transitions to housing—the prime goal of the program.
Next, the city will finalize the draft ordinance and post it on the city website sometime in May, prior to it going before the planning commission in late June and the council in August for final approval.