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City of Arroyo Grande considering safe overnight parking program

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Posted at 10:45 PM, Feb 28, 2023

The City of Arroyo Grande could expand homeless services to people living out of their cars.

The goal of the proposal is to offer people a safe place to park and sleep overnight.

“Our program is designed to be a stepping stone,” said Jeff Metcalfe, who spearheaded a pilot program at Saint John’s Lutheran Church along Valley Road.

“We made a safe place for a specific demographic to come and be off the streets and not have to interface with the police in a negative way,” he explained.

Metcalf says that the program has helped around 20 people since September 2020, and he hopes that more churches follow suit.

“It’s easily scalable, but the key factor is not to have people stay there all day. They have to have curfews and they have to be out by certain times.”

The 5Cities Homeless Coalition says that safe parking plays a role in addressing homelessness but adds that services are limited.

“Sleeping in your car is certainly not as comfortable as being in a sheltered location,” said Executive Director Janna Nichols. “That doesn’t bring with it necessarily any services that can help them change their circumstance.”

The proposal under consideration would allow for up to six parking spaces in existing church parking lots.

Guests would only be allowed to park overnight between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Access to bathrooms, drinking water, and trash are also required and parking spots need to be at least 300 feet from nearby homes.

The program also calls for strict limitations on the noise coming from parked cars.