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County weighs in on recent deaths at safe parking site

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Apr 19, 2022

The County of San Luis Obispo is addressing two recent deaths at the Oklahoma Avenue safe parking site.

On Monday, a man was found dead of an apparent overdose and a woman who also showed signs of an overdose was taken to the hospital.

This incident comes just two months after a woman and her pet cats died at the same safe parking site in an RV fire.

A representative with the County of San Luis Obispo tells KSBY that there were fire extinguishers at the lot when the fire happened, but they've since added extinguishers that are more heavy-duty.

Program Manager Jeff Al-Mashat also says the site has implemented 24-hour security and closed off one of the gates to improve safety at the parking site. The site is also just down the road from the sheriff's office, where patrol units drive by on a regular basis.

Still, Al-Mashat recognizes a reality with these sites.

"Unfortunately, with this population, there are addiction issues," he says. "We're trying to get people help for addiction issues."

The site opened in August of last year as a three-month pilot program. Roughly 80 people are currently staying there, but the county says it is working to expand the site to accommodate more cars.

The site is also staffed by a variety of case management services like Transitions Mental Health Association and the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, which are on-site regularly to provide help to those staying there.

The County of San Luis Obispo also says the site at Oklahoma Avenue has resulted in a few success stories, with some people having found employment and permanent housing following their stays at the free parking spot.