Parents and neighbors say homelessness and illegal activity is taking over a San Luis Obispo park.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department says officers gave out citations at Mitchell Park Thursday afternoon for open containers and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Still, parents are concerned about kids’ safety when it comes to playing at the playground.
Jason Wheeler and his three-year-old daughter enjoy swinging, playing and exploring Mitchell Park.
However, a recent discovery is leaving him and other parents uneasy.
“I was with another parent and in the sandbox, we found a hypodermic needle,” Wheeler said. “It was saddening to find that where kids are playing with their shoes off.”
Wheeler found the needle back in April, but SLOPD says three were reported just last week.
Parents and police say drug paraphernalia, trash and bodily fluids are often found around the park, at times near the playground.
“Some people are vomiting in the bathroom or screaming and yelling,” Wheeler said.
“I want to bring them here and let them take their shoes off and that’s a huge part of being a kid and I didn’t feel comfortable doing that,” said Allison Andrews, mom of two.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department says this park is problematic.
“It moves around but right now it seems that Mitchell Park is the hub of it all,” said Sergeant Kevin Phillips, supervisor for the SLOPD downtown metro bike team.
Sergeant Phillips and his team focus their patrol on this area after receiving multiple complaints from neighbors.
“Drug paraphernalia, pipes, straws other things that kids can touch and with the fentanyl out there these days that are super dangerous for kids to come in contact with,” Sgt. Phillips said.
It’s not illegal to be homeless, but it is illegal to use drugs, litter, vandalize and sleep overnight at Mitchell Park.
Police hope bike and foot patrols will deter illegal activity.
“The parks are protected,” said Sgt. Phillips. “That’s where people should be able to go and enjoy their kids running around the park, have a picnic, people laying on the grass reading books, that’s what parks are intended for.”
Sergeant Phillips says the nicer weather might be a reason why you see more people using the park.
Police want everyone to get equal enjoyment from public facilities and to be safe while doing so.
If you feel unsafe or see illegal activity, you can report it to the police.
If there is inappropriate behavior, you can call the non-emergency dispatch number at (805) 781-7317.