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Lompoc considers locations for homeless living in their cars to park overnight

UPDATE:

The Ciry Council voted 3-2 to set the item aside for a future meeting, following discussion about a lack of funding for the programs.

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The City of Lompoc continues looking at ways to help its homeless population. On Tuesday, the City Council is discussing the Safe Parking Pilot Program, which would let people living in their cars park in certain locations.

City leaders approved the Safe Parking ordinance in December.

“There is an issue going around, there are people living in their vehicles that do not have a safe place to park at night,” said Lompoc Community Development Director, Christie Alarcon.

“I believe Safe Parking is a very good program,” said Brian Halterman, Director of Homeless & Housing at Good Samaritan. “It helps people from living in their cars to actually finding stabilized housing.”

The city is looking at three parking lots:

John-Mansville Park Parking Lot located on North A Street
Ocean and I Street Parking Lot near the Chamber of Commerce
City Hall Parking Lot
The city has recognized areas of concern for each of those locations, however.

“At JM park, those ball fields have lights, so they’re utilized for sports at night that go into those hours where people may be needing to park and rest for the evening,” said Alarcon.

The overnight parking hours would be from 10 pm to 6 a.m.

The JM parking lot also poses another challenge:

“It is an emergency congregate site for our police department if there was a natural disaster, or things of that nature,” said Alarcon.

The community development director says the park is also next to the site for the new transit center, which could be under construction soon.

The parking lot at the intersection of Ocean and I street has limitations too, as it holds the Farmer’s Market on Fridays, and is one of the city’s main thoroughfares.

Some neighbors and businesses around the area do not think it’d be a good fit.

“My concern would only be that it would extend to tent camping,” said resident Traci Kellogg.

“Before they do anything they should have talked to the businesses because it is used [by us],” said William Arthur Paulin, owner of Paulin’s Floor Coverings. “No, no. I’m against it.”

Halterman believes those who are against the initiative may not understand the complexities of surviving homelessness.

“It varies tremendously from just down on your luck, to battling through mental illness, addictions, to battling through just life,” he said.

At City Hall, the concern is about the fact that many meetings run late, potentially overlapping with the Safe Parking hours.

Another problem is the price tag, which could range from $55,000 to $360,000, according to Alarcon.

The cost depends on the services provided. The ordinance requires the city to hire a case manager that would help the homeless transition into housing.

Other expenses could include installing porta potties, or hiring an agency to enforce safety if police doesn’t have the staffing for it.

KEYT 2019

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