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SLO to expand its safe parking program 

It’s been six months. Half a year ago, the city of San Luis Obispo’s joint project with the Community Action Partnership of SLO County to offer limited overnight parking to people who would otherwise be ticketed began, and the city is touting the program as a success.

Despite minor improvements that could be made to an expanded program in the future, the council unanimously voted to renew an exemption to a modified parking ordinance for a segment on Prado Road, near the Prado Day Center, where the staff administers the program.

The council also voiced support for possibly expanding the program to other locations in light of what they’re calling a success, where at least one person has reportedly moved on from the program with employment and housing prospects.

According to CAPSLO Executive Director Dee Torres, CAPSLO staffers couldn’t currently afford to expand the program much further without additional resources.

Torres added that homeless services continues to experience an increase in homeless persons from outside the county—what she estimated as roughly 60 percent of our local homeless population. She said her staffers regularly receive phone and e-mail inquiries from people outside the area, asking if they should relocate.

“Honestly, Oprah—it impacted us,” Torres told the council, referring to last year’s designation as “the Happiest City in America.”

“We do our best to tell people how challenging the housing situation is here,” she said.

Currently, the program provides five parking spaces, behind a locked gate, with video surveillance and restroom facilities. But the arrangement comes with rules: Participants must sign on for “case management” with homeless services staff, remain drug-free, and pay a fee for services.

Despite endorsing the program’s expansion, Councilman Dan Carpenter reiterated his concern about people earlier described as the “will-nots,” those who refuse to seek out services to get them off the streets.

“This is great focusing on 20 percent of the [homeless] population, but what about the other 80 percent?” he asked.

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