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SLO County working to spread the word about safe overnight parking lot

safe parking lot.JPG
Posted at 6:12 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 20:17:14-04

It's been almost one week since the county opened a safe parking lot for people to sleep in their vehicles on Kansas Avenue in San Luis Obispo.

It's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for vehicle and RV parking only.

There are ADA-accessible restrooms and showers on site.

The county says this is the first step toward finding a long-term solution to safe parking and long-term housing for our homeless community.

Check-in at the safe parking lot on Kansas Avenue is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

The County of San Luis Obispo says so far, three to seven vehicles have used it each night, and officials are working to get the word out about this new option.

The safe parking site is a three-month pilot program.

"It was part of a larger response to folks who are either camping in their RVs or sometimes parking overnight in their cars in various streets, in various communities," said Bruce Gibson, San Luis Obispo County District 2 Supervisor.

Supervisor Gibson says now that the site is open, they're working to inform people.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office says they began notifying the growing community on Palisades Avenue in Los Osos on Thursday.

"It is a good positive movement that the community is making and I appreciate the fact that the community is working with what they've got to do the best they can," said Benjamin Kincaid.

Kincaid, who is staying on Palisades Avenue, says Kansas Avenue is out of the way and it's not near any local services.

"A lot of these rigs, they get less than 10 miles a gallon and having to drive into town a couple times a week is prohibitively expensive because a lot of these people live on fixed incomes. They can't afford gas to drive into town all the time," Kincaid said.

He adds that it's hard to access not only by bike but by public transportation.

There is an RTA bus stop at the intersection of Kansas and Highway 1. According to RTA, bus route 12 stops by on the hour northbound into Morro Bay stopping right behind the Albertsons grocery store and southbound into San Luis Obispo stopping on Foothill Blvd. which offers close access to California Fresh and other markets in that area.

Kincaid also points out that the Kansas Avenue safe parking lot also prohibits tents and tarps which a number of people along Palisades Avenue call home.

"It's not okay that we are being kicked out of this beautiful community when the people who live in tents, they're the ones that have the most problems mentally and physically or being addicted to drugs. They're not capable of keeping a vehicle," Kincaid added.

For those who decide to utilize the new space, it's meant to serve as a safe and stable place to stay without the requirement of engaging in services.

"The overall goal of the plan is to find real housing for folks," Gibson said.

The county says this is an ongoing effort and they're working on plans to open three more safe parking sites in the future.

The county is coordinating with the 5Cities Homeless Coalition and CAPSLO to provide outreach services and offer case management to those who want it.