SLO parking ordinance to restrict helping the homeless

June 7, 2013
Dee Torres

Dee Torres

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A proposed San Luis Obispo ordinance that would allow select homeless individuals to sleep in their vehicles at night contains provisions barring most charitable organizations from providing overnight parking and directs homeless vehicle owners instead to the services of the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO).

San Luis Obispo is in the process of drafting and adopting an ordinance to establish a permanent safe parking program.

On Tuesday, the Human Relations Commission voted unanimously to approve the ordinance which requires homeless individuals who wish to sleep in their vehicles at night to participate in Transitions Mental Health or CAPSLO’s case management programs. None of the commissioners expressed any concerns over the amount of money CAPSLO demands from case management clients.

CAPSLO, which has supported aggressive ticketing of homeless in the past, oversees the nightly parking program at the day center and requires participants to enroll in its case management services, with a stated goal of helping homeless individuals achieve self-sufficiency and housing.

However, a CalCoastNews investigation has revealed that case management is very costly for clients and few achieve housing because of the program.

CAPSLO requires case management clients to turn over the majority of their income to the agency or sign over all of their money to Family ties, a nonprofit operated by San Luis Obispo County’s chief deputy public guardian Lisa Niesen. Family Ties has violated federal laws by keeping too much Social Security Disability income of a former CAPSLO case management client, according to Social Security Administration documents.

CAPSLO Director of Homeless Services Dee Torres contends homeless individuals need to be managed by an agency already providing services to the homeless.

“I think it’s important to have a service provider that has experience with the population,” Torres said Tuesday.

City Housing Programs Manager Tyler Corey agreed. Corey said the proposed ordinance limits organizational participation in the safe parking program to ensure that the agencies have “experience and the credentials” to transition the homeless into housing.

San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins, however, said the city should allow organizations that wish to help the homeless to do so.

“This ordinance says that our church or your church or your business can’t go to the city directly and say we’re responsible people. We have bathrooms. We want to set up a parking program for the poor,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins, who successfully sued the city over its ticketing of the homeless last year, said the proposed ordinance “essentially gives a monopoly to the one or two” organizations that meet the restrictive criteria used to define a social service provider. He warned that the ordinance violates the first and fifth amendments to the United States Constitution on freedom of religion and property rights grounds.

“My suggestion to you to prevent the city from facing further problems later on and to allow our citizens to exercise their rights to be charitable individuals to the folks that they want to provide for is this needs to be reworked entirely,” Jenkins said.

Prior to suing the city on behalf of the homeless in 2012, Jenkins also warned the council about unconstitutional language in its ordinance prohibiting overnight parking.

An existing ordinance prohibits people from sleeping in vehicles within the San Luis Obispo city limits between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Amid complaints about police ticketing homeless for sleeping in their vehicles, the San Luis Obispo City Council created a pilot safe parking program last year. The safe parking program allows five individuals or families to park their cars at night in the Prado Day Center parking lot.

The proposed ordinance, which must still gain planning commission and city council approval to become law, establishes guidelines for expanding the safe parking program.

The ordinance requires that an organization receive approval from the Community Development Director and obtain a planning commission approved use permit in order to manage a safe parking site.

In order to do so, in accordance with the proposed ordinance, an organization must prove its status as a social service provider registered with the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a Housing and Urban Development database.

When asked by the Human Relations Commission Tuesday how many local organizations participate in the HMIS, Torres said only three do. Of those three organizations, only CAPSLO and Transitions Mental Health provide case management, which the proposed ordinance also requires.

The city has already planned to budget $10,000 for CAPSLO to operate the parking program in the fiscal year that begins next month.

 


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25 Comments

  1. Slowerfaster says:

    Jumping in late on this one ….but I view this bureaucratic boondoggle as nothing but an attempt to codify a new form of slavery. The requirements and restrictions of this “program” also justifies an illegal ‘takings’ from the weak, oppressed, and dispossessed among us.

    Obviously, this is designed so that the homeless DO NOT voluntarily participate in the program, and have little choice except to move elsewhere. It is a not-so-subtle method of harrassment; concocted not to address the issue constructively, but to ignore it by shifting it away.

    Sleep is a human necessity …and it should be a right.

    If these officially “Big Brother” tactics proceed, SLO should adopt a new motto:
    “The Happiest Prison on Earth”.

    (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  2. Harley says:

    This may or may not be relevant to this discussion, but it’s something that I’ve been wondering about for awhile.

    Recently some local news agency reported that there was a drive to get folks to donate their older RV’s to some of the homeless. One recipient was a homeless and disabled Vet if I recall correctly..

    My question is, where are the folks that receive these donated vehicles supposed to park them? Dump the waste tanks, etc? Legal RV parking is expensive as is the registration and insurance. Who picks up the tab for all that?

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  3. hijinks says:

    We have something called the First Amendment to the Constitution, and it requires government to keep its hands out of church and religious affairs. If a religious congregation were to offer free parking to the homeless as part of its ministry, the city couldn’t stop them (at least once it got to court and a judge absolves the congregation), provided the conditions are sanitary and don’t violate health laws. This city is messing around in too many places it doesn’t belong. The big question, though, is whether there are any congregations willing to do this.

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
    • Ted Slanders says:

      hijinks,

      All churches are under the jurisdiction of the local laws and codes, and even the Hebrew and Christian part of the bible God agrees to this propostion. (Romans 13:5-7)

      Will any “divisions” of Christianity, aka, denominations, or congregations, be willing to perform the act that you mentioned? Probably not. For the most part, they talk the talk, and rarely walk the walk that the bible has set forth for them to follow. Can you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E-S?

      (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
  4. Citizen says:

    Who are the members of the Human Relations Commission?

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  5. Jorge Estrada says:

    Homeless parking should occupy State, County and City staff parking found vacant between the hours of 7PM to 6AM. After the word gets out we will have 100%, no vacancy, in a short order. All other parking will be illegal and tow charges. Without defined limits no program will ever work.

    (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  6. Ted Slanders says:

    Where does the SLO City Council get the authority to usurp the local churches freedom of exercising their god-given right in taking care of the poor and homeless on their church property? WWJD? I say He would tell the churches to start following His Father’s precepts within the bible for a change, and tell the city to p*** up a rope in the meantime!

    Barring the outright monopoly of CAPSLO in “allegedly” taking care of the poor and homeless, unfortunately at their drastic expense in many ways, it is truly hard to believe in how the participants of this organization can sleep at night, especially if they are assumed Christians. It’s a Satanic joke, and Jesus is NOT smiling.

    SLO Churches, whether they like it or not, are under the direct commands of their godly inspired word in their bible in the following scriptures;

    “Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God.” (Prov. 14:31 )

    “Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor.” (Prov. 22:9)

    ”But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him?” (1 John 3:17)

    “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) (It will be a cold day in hell if any Christian follows this direct word of Jesus, but nonetheless,I placed it in front of the hypocritical Christian anyway)

    Listen up SLO churches, FORCE THE CITY TO SAY NO TO JESUS’ TEACHINGS WITHIN THE BIBLE IN YOUR HELPING OF THE POOR ON YOUR CHURCH GROUNDS! Play the religious card in this respect, and tell this ever so dumbfounded SLO City Council about your religious freedom in that you’re commanded by no other than JESUSs to take care of the poor and homeless, even on your church property if need be! Get it? Well, do you?

    Churches, try something new and actually start following the bible’s doctrine for a change; don’t be hypocrites to the word! “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9)

    (20) 28 Total Votes - 24 up - 4 down

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