H-GROVER BEACH

Sep 10, 2013 10:23 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

Public hearing underway for the future of local soup kitchen

The future of the South County People's Kitchen is a topic of debate at a public hearing at Grover Beach City Hall. The Grover Beach organization has been feeding the homeless and those in need for two decades, but some don't want the kitchen in their neighborhood. In August, they moved from an area church to a dirt parking lot along the Grand Avenue corridor and 16th Street. The land is owned by San Luis Obispo County, but in order to operate the kitchen, the kitchen needs a permit from the city. For now, the decision is in the hands of the Planning Commission. The kitchen would like a long-term permit, or be able to use the land until they can find another home. "It's centrally located and it is one meal per day," said Frank Derusha, who was at the soup kitchen Tuesday. Every day for the last 21 years the South County People's Kitchen has been serving lunch. "Not to have this People's Kitchen would take a lot away from a lot of people," said Charles Florez. A coalition of concerned residents was formed. The group wants to kitchen out their backyard. They recently hung notices on the doors of area homes talking about the increased transient population. "I don't understand why it has to be right here," said Blake Phillips, who lives in an apartment close to the new location of the kitchen. "There are more people wandering through our complex." "We are trying our best to be good citizens and good neighbors," said Betsy Ehrler, President of South County People's Kitchen. Grover Beach police told KSBY this area near Grand Avenue and 16th Street already attracts a large transient population. "In this area where the People's Kitchen it has more than tripled," explained Chief of Police Jim Copsey, Grover Beach. But the soup kitchen needs a home. "We have nowhere else to go at this point," said Ehrler. "We are not asking for help, we are just asking for human dignity," said Derusha. Following Tuesday night's decision by the Planning Commission, the People's Kitchen or a member of the public can appeal the decision. If an appeal is made, the issue will go before the City Council for a vote.

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