SLO homeless plan facing legal battle

March 22, 2012


Amid allegations of illegality, San Luis Obispo City Council members voted Tuesday to unanimously approve two portions of a homeless parking plan while agreeing to revisit the plan’s proposal to increase police actions against homeless who sleep in their cars.

Council members endorsed the implementation of a pilot program aimed at providing safe parking for a small number of homeless who sleep in their vehicles.

The pilot program permits CAPSLO to allow five cars to park overnight in the Prado Day Center parking lot without being ticketed for having homeless sleeping inside. Those allowed to park in the lot would also be required to utilize CAPSLO case management offerings.

Most members of the community who spoke during the meeting approved of the pilot program, though some questioned the cost – $80,000 for six months or $16,000 per car.

“It will cost $16,000 each for six months versus handing out parking vouchers,” said San Luis Obispo based attorney Stew Jenkins.

In addition, speakers were highly critical of the plan’s proposal to increase ticketing of homeless who sleep in their vehicles and are not allotted one of the five spaces. Council members voted to delay discussion over the proposed increased enforcement for a few months.

Countywide, officials estimate there are approximately 4,000 homeless with about half of those being children, and about one fifth of all homeless sleeping in vehicles.

Proponents of the more aggressive ticketing include San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill and his girlfriend Dee Torres, homeless services coordinator and the promoter of the proposal. Hill asked the council not to heed public comments by members of the public who oppose Torres’ proposal because the issue of homelessness is too complicated for most lay people to understand.

Hill then asked council members to support Torres’ proposal because of issues of drug and alcohol abuse by the homeless and their need for structure and management.

One homeless man who spoke out during public comment, Rubin Agular, said he does not drink or do drugs, works 40 hours a week and attends school.

“I do not use drugs or alcohol,” Aqular said. “I just happen to be poor.”

Danny Braninburg sleeps in his van at night, unless he is in jail for not being able to afford the large tickets and fines he receives from officers several times a month, he said. Unable to pay for the $450 a piece  tickets, and $50 a day in late fees, Braninburg recently spent 24 days in jail in lieu of some of the fines.

Braninburg said police have been increasing their nightly raids, and as a result, he has received five tickets in the last month, or $2,250 in fines.

Working homeless contend the constant harassment by police keeps them and their children from getting a good nights sleep and they risk having their vehicles confiscated by police.

Attorney Jenkins asked the council in a letter delivered Tuesday, to stop ticketing homeless for parking in their vehicles and return all fines collected in the alleged illegal implementation of the ordinance.

“For the first time since moving to San Luis Obispo in 1961, I am ashamed of my city,” Jenkins wrote. “How and when did it become acceptable to criminalize human existence based on poverty.”

In his letter, Jenkins asked the council to suspend its sleeping vehicle ordinance, dismiss pending citations, expunge convictions and return fines.

City Attorney Christine Dietrick said they have already received one challenge to the ordinance that the city expects to beat noting that the type of ordinance was facially (on face not application) upheld in another case.

Jenkins contends the current implementation of the ordinance is in violation of California law and both the California and U.S. Constitutions, because it criminalizes human existence.

Along with San Luis Obispo based attorney Saro Rizzo, Jenkins is planning on filing a suit on behalf of several homeless who have been ticketed by San Luis Obispo police for sleeping in their vehicles.

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Talk about a “Band-aid for a severed artery” solution !

This is a CYA given the city’s possibly ILLEGAL targeting actions.

Maybe these NON-criminal RV homeless could park their vehicles every night near City Hall in a political demonstration . Sure would get the media attention, and possibly convince the ‘authorities’ to come up with ideas that make sense.

I for one would like to express my thanks to Stew Jenkins for his advocacy for the homeless in this new situation with the city fining the homeless who don’t have a real space to park their motor homes at. The fines being imposed on those who have very little does not make any sense in any manner. I’m not sure it is the goal of the program to fine those with the motor homes, but if the fines are not dismissed and the motor home owner cannot scrap together the monies to pay those fines, when it comes time for them to re-register their vehicles, they most likely will have to forfeit their vehicles, forcing them to do what then? Live in the creek, under a bridge? What the hell? Aren’t we better than this?

Why do some of you in this thread question the fact that Adam Hill wants his girlfriend, Dee Torres, who, in part, runs the Prado Day Care Center for the homeless, to receive this $80,000 grant money? Is there a conflict of interest? Naw, surely there is not. *cough*

The parking is essentially free at Prado Center, as it is for the individuals that work there, so the city is paying Dee Torres, et al, $2666.00 per month for each vehicle for “case management offerings” and the cost that the city has to spend to implement this program?” Really? What do these offerings and city costs entail, and is it really worth the said amount per month, and per vehicle, to honestly provide? Is the fox guarding the chicken coop again?

Some other questionable math is $80,000.00 divided by 5 cars equals $16,000.00 per car for the six month trial period, or $666.00 per week! What?! Is the amount of “666” an ungodly omen that should be addressed in behalf of the Christian God, Satan, and the city of San Luis Obispo?! Christians, think about this fact. Is our God trying to tell the San Luis Obispo City Council something, in that they’re heading in the wrong direction?

Hell, if the city wants to dish out this kind of money for parking privileges, I am sure that there’re many here that would only charge them $200.00 per week, per vehicle. Then the homeless can drive down to Dee Torres at the Prado Center for their case management offerings, barring the city costs, of which I am sure would cost less than the remaining amount of $466.00 per week, per vehicle! In this way, the city can save money. 2+2=4.

It’s funny, we get upset over Lisa Solomon receiving a buyout of 250K along with other perks, under the prevailing circumstances, but now in San Luis Obispo’s own back yard, a certain entity is being paid this large amount for said services. Huh?

Anyone, what am I missing?

Wait a second.Hill is using his political office to advocate for his girlfriend’s position? I don’t like the smell of it.

I am also dismayed that Hill would dehumanize these people, many of whom are children and need an ADVOCATE.

Explain to me again why we have to pay the cops $80,000. We are paying that much money to have them not do anything. How much did it cost the taxpayers when they were harassing the homeless. I would imagine the costs were staggering. More of us will definitely be homeless by the time the local elected officials get their piece of the action

It’s not for police (mostly). All the money is for city staff time (community development staff, city atty., city mgr., etc.) Presumably for planning and admin of the program.

Why does it cost $80,000 to allow 5 cars to park in a lot?? Who is getting this money and why?

There are plenty of unused parking lots away from residences in this town. You could take that $80,000 and rent a few of portable toilets to put in the lot and you’d serve a lot more people.

And what about people who pull off the road to sleep because they are too tired, or people that decided to sleep off a night of drinking rather than drive home drunk in their cars? Is this “increased enforcement” going to ticket those people, discouraging them from choosing to be safe?


I could only assume that those that park for being tired, or sleeping one off, are not habitual in their habit of doing so. The homeless on the other hand, are habitual in parking in certain locations around SLO town.

Nonetheless, it’s within the same context of sleeping in one’s vehicle, therefore, not to be hypocritical, the police should ticket them as well!

What a can of worms. :(

Gubermunt doing whtat does best, wasting tax dollars.

Have you forgotten the government is involved in providing this service? Add in some corruption and its business as usual. Bet if I offered a personally owned parcel of land for the purpose of this parking lot Id never get it approved by our leaders.

Ok, lets assume the facts of the story are correct, 4,000 homeless, 20% living in cars. Now let’s assume that each is a family of four. That means there are 250 cars with families living in them parked on our streets every night.

A program that allows five cars to park over night? wtf?

How about we have a program that gives out vouchers that allow the families to park at county parks where proper sanitation facilities are available?

Ah, but read carefully— 4,000 “COUNTY-WIDE”

That would equate to around 800 in SLO (though probably more since it is the county seat). With 20% in cars, that is 160 persons.

40 cars using your math.

Why not let them park at Sunny Acres? At least the homeless would then be “out of the hair” of the County & would be in a “controlled area”….Personally, I shudder at the thought of a bunch of drunks & drug users parking all over the city/county. There are some dangerous people among these “homeless folks”…Not all of them are law abiding citizens working 40 hours a week, but unable to afford a place to park their RV’s….

When a city turns it’s back on it’s own, poor or not, it is time to put those who make the rules under a microscopic review. It is inconceivable to me to know you have 4,000 homeless people, many who are children, within the boundaries of your city limits and you graciously allow 4 of those people to park their cars overnight for sleeping purposes. SLO city council, you are callous, greedy, and cold-hearted to not help those in need. Karma is taking notes.

Is it really the city’s own though? From what I see around San Luis Obispo, it seems many of the homeless are from out of the area and come to SLO because of the mild climate, so is it fair that San Luis Obispo must take on that burden?

I was watching a TV show recently on homeless youth in America and guess where the twenty something kids was headed from New York ? Yep, good ole Cali , he stated it was warmer out here and friendlier to the homeless.

4,000 is COUNTY WIDE.


Your statement is incorrect about FOUR people allowed to park after administration fees of $16,000 each… It’s for FIVE parking spaces.

Now does not that make you feel the city is not as cold hearted as you originally thought!