SLO council candidates partake in candlelight vigil for the homeless
October 17, 2012
A group of San Luis Obispo citizens who oppose the city’s ongoing harassment of the homeless lit 74 candles Tuesday evening on and around city hall steps in honor of the roughly 740 people they estimate take shelter nightly in vehicles parked on city streets.
Candidate for city council Matt Strzepek, who has filed a complaint against the police for harassing himself and others sleeping in cars, participated in the vigil after speaking during public comment period.
Strzepek called for a practical parking program as a solution to the problem of overnight camping in the city. He said the city should allow interested businesses and houses of worship, as well as designated parks away from businesses and residential areas, to let homeless people park their vehicles at night.
“I told them people come before policy, and their policies have pitted neighbor against neighbor,” Strzepek said.
Like Strzpek, San Luis Obispo mayoral candidate Donald Hedrick has experienced residential challenges as well as police harassment.
Hedrick said the city council should take a more sympathetic approach to the homeless.
“If the city spent as much energy on helping the problems of the homeless as grinding them into the dirt even further, than I think a sizable dent could be taken out of the problem,” Hedrick said.
Several other community members spoke out against the city’s ticketing and harassing of the homeless during public comment Tuesday.
Mayor Jan Marx said the characterization of herself and the rest of the council as not caring about the homeless is unfair.