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Overnight parking program in SLO undergoing changes starting in August

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Posted at 10:33 PM, Jul 12, 2023

Some changes are coming to an overnight parking program near the San Luis Obispo train station.

Instead of staying in one spot, the overnight parking site will rotate in different locations within the city of SLO every month.

The high cost of living on the Central Coast has left many people with no choice but to live out of their cars or RVs.

“It’s impossible. The rent’s too high. Way too high,” said Linda who was staying at the overnight parking site on Wednesday.

Strict income requirements like having to make three times the monthly rent make finding a place to live more difficult.

“They want a high credit rating which is a huge barrier, and their no pet policies. A lot of people here have pets and that’s why we’re out here,” explained Linda.

The parking lot at the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum offers a sense of stability for Linda and at least a dozen others who are experiencing homelessness.

“If you’re out just trying to figure out where you’re going to sleep for the night and you’re driving around figuring out where you can go without getting in trouble, without getting tickets—it’s just too much chaos,” she said. “We already have a lot of chaos in our lives. Just knowing that we can come here at a specific time and nobody’s gonna bother us is at least some stability.”

The city’s parking site was re-launched last year.

It offers 27 spaces for people to park and sleep in their vehicles overnight.

“The participants that are part of that program look out for each other and they’ve built really deep relationships,” said City of SLO Homeless Response Manager Daisy Wiberg.

The program is making a difference by helping people get back on their feet, and into permanent housing.

“Just in the month of May, CAPSLO was able to help five individuals or households get into permanent housing from our safe parking program,” explained Wiberg.

But changes are on the horizon.

On Wednesday night, the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission approved a proposal to move the safe parking site to a different location each month.

“We have seen the rotating safe parking model be very successful in other cities,” adds Wiberg.

The switch will happen at the end of August.

Right now, the city is looking for organizations to host a safe parking site for a month at a time.

Some people staying at the site say they’re concerned about having to move every month.

“I’m not a big fan of that because that’s injecting some more chaos into our lives,” said Linda.

The city will still offer 15 to 20 parking spots at each rotating site once the current program ends.

There is still a second safe overnight parking site in the City of San Luis Obispo which is at the 40 Prado Homeless Shelter.