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Los Osos residents express concerns over growing number of people living in vehicles

los osos homeless camping.JPG
Posted at 6:05 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 22:55:35-04

Some Los Osos residents have growing concerns after more and more people are calling Palisades Avenue their home.

The street is lined with motorhomes, trailers, and people living in their cars.

"I've camped out in my car 500 nights in a row now," said Eugene Jones.

David Solomon has been here for more than a year as well.

"It's almost enough room but not quite," Solomon said during an interview with KSBY News on Monday.

Solomon used to live in Paradise, California.

"I was there seven months when the Camp Fire hit and I lost everything in the fire," he said.

Solomon says he bought a small motorhome with funds from FEMA, the State of California, and PG&E.

"Actually, I was staying in another part of Los Osos and somebody complained and the sheriff's office came and knocked on my door one evening and told me someone complained. They suggested that I come over here," he explained.

"Three months before the pandemic started, my landlord died and sold the property and I've been living in my car ever since," Jones added.

In early 2020, the county designated three spots in Los Osos, Oceano, and San Luis Obispo as safe overnight parking spots from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. with amenities like showers and bathrooms.

While the program has come to a close in Los Osos, many have not left.

"And we've had more come since then," said Becky McFarland, Los Osos resident.

Neighbors say there's always been some tents and motorhomes in this area but not to this extent, sparking concern.

"There's not tons of needles just out in the open but they're there and the heavy smell of urine, the feces, and the fighting is really concerning to a lot of people," McFarland said.

McFarland, a 36-year resident, along with another resident recently presented a proposal to Supervisor Bruce Gibson.

"We would like to see the county take El Chorro Regional Campground which has 61 campsites and hookups and showers for two years until they find a permanent solution," McFarland said.

Another resident says a tiny house village could be another successful option.

"It's not expensive to build and the places are mostly self-run, self-governed," said Yael Korin, Unhoused Residents Committee of Los Osos Community Advisory Council.

In the meantime, some of those who live there, like Solomon, are hoping to better their lives.

"I'm looking actively for an apartment or a small house to rent. Of course, the cost is prohibitive in most cases," Solomon said.

Supervisor Gibson said on August 10, the board is set to discuss the overall effort to provide more services to the homeless. He added that there's a countywide prohibition on camping but the case Martin v. City of Boise is making it challenging to enforce it.

Some residents have taken to social media saying they no longer visit the Palisades Ave. area to walk their dogs or go to the park because of the growing number of people living along the streets.