SLO councilman rips city’s anti-panhandling campaign
September 9, 2014
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A San Luis Obispo city councilman is criticizing the city’s latest attempt to address its homeless problem, calling a recent campaign a fundraising effort for a local nonprofit, rather than a deterrent for aggressive behavior in the downtown area.
In April, the city, along with United Way, installed meters in several downtown locations, allowing individuals to give coins or swipe credits cards as donations to the homeless. A subsequent city campaign attempted to deter people from giving money to panhandlers and to instead donate money through the meter system.
On Monday, Police Captain Keith Storton issued a press release announcing that the city raised approximately $8,500 through the donation meter campaign, and that officials would present a check Tuesday to the nonprofit Friends of Prado Day Center.
Councilman Dan Carpenter responded with an email statement to the media saying the donation meter program was just a fundraising campaign and not an anti-panhandling effort.
“Let’s call it what it is… a fundraiser for Prado!” Carpenter wrote. “Panhandlers are as prevalent and aggressive as they’ve ever been so please don’t suggest otherwise and insult those of who spend copious amount of time downtown.”
Storton’s release made no mention of whether a decrease in panhandling has occurred following the installation of the meters.
Friends of Prado Day Center, a fundraising arm of the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), is expected to receive the majority of the funds collected from the donation meters. City and nonprofit officials will present the check Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Prado Day Center.
The city raised the majority of the approximately $8,500 collected through meter sponsorships. Meter sponsors include Copeland Properties, Mayor Jan Marx and former CAPSLO homeless services director Dee Torres.