Some years ago, my then-wife and I had just arrived in SLO County in our 15-year-old 20-foot motor home and parked on a semi-private side of the road in Oceano. We weren’t hassled that night, but understood it was illegal (call me a felon lite). We were there because a campground catering almost exclusively to motor homes had refused to let us in because our rig was “too old.”
Sure, not everyone can afford a campground, but I need to point out that not every campground will accept certain vehicles (ours was old, but well maintained).
I’ve been aware of the tacit approval by the police in allowing homeless people to park on Prado Road—at least till Feb. 16. Prado Day Center itself has been attempting to get approval to get some of these vehicles into its own parking lot. That’s a story in itself.
But obviously the city or county needs to develop a parking lot system like Santa Barbara has to house transient people. Homelessness is not going to go away there (or here) anytime soon. The weather’s too nice, and now SLO has gotten a reputation as a “happy place.”
For those of you who do not know, the homeless village project (Dignity Village/SLO), of which I am a part, is in high gear. There have been multiple well-attended meetings and tremendous interagency cooperation. Incorporation papers are being filed and a site search has begun. Anyone with “remnant” county land of at least an acre is encouraged to contact us. We are also open to a county lease arrangement.
I do not have an answer for where people can go now that there are sweeps of the illegal camps. This is just a “cosmetic” solution that will continue to create tension and hardship. Becky Jorgeson suggests established residents help these people with jobs and housing, after “vetting.” New Times’ Homeless Project has been a great offering, even though not enough homeless people are availing themselves of the chance for assistance. But I read one homeless person’s story in New Times and donated to him. His gardening business seems to be taking off.
Direct any offers of assistance to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure they get to the right committee people.