SLO councilman rips city’s anti-panhandling campaign

September 9, 2014

homeless meterBy 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.


Only a fool would give money to the homeless whether it be directly or through a city meter.


Please stop giving money to people downtown. It attracts drug addicts, alcoholics, and mentally ill people to the downtown area. It chases away tourists and shoppers and hurts businesses and the town’s economy. If you give people cash, much of it goes to buy drugs and alcohol.


If they are providing some form of entertainment like playing a guitar, or if they are in a wheelchair, and they are polite, I give to them. I have no problem with people who show some kind of effort or are clearly physically disabled.


Or we could give it to CAPSLO so Dee Torres and other employees can buy Christmas gifts, bikes, gas cards, etc. for their families.

If you want it to go to the homeless, give it to the homeless. Do not trust the City, United Way, of CAPSLO. None of them can be trusted to manage the donations properly! City and CAPSLO so employees have terrible track records for managing assets and United Way keeps a percentage for management fees. Just give to the homeless and help them get through the day!


I agree. Frankly, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for a lot of people. There’s one guy I’ve met that hangs out downtown that is in a wheelchair, with both legs missing. Who cares how it happened? Who cares if there are shining examples of people who’ve endured against all odds. At this point, there is NOTHING that anyone is going to do to magically turn his life around. If he ends up getting high with the few bucks I gave him so that he can get through one more miserable day, who am I to judge?

Because you’re right… if we’re going to talk about not giving people money because they make immoral decisions and have no integrity, then I shouldn’t be paying taxes either.


I also will buy a meal or give leftovers from a restaurant meal now and then,


Or have animals : (


If you are not yet convinced of the inefficient way in which the sponsors of these meters operate, then consider the fact that instead of just mailing them the check, they will be “presenting” it to them. Who will be present and what is the sum of their hourly salaries should be your next question.


this is a very good sign. It is a complete paradigm shift. Its good to see that Dee Torres, Jan Marx and John Assbaugh have ceased to steal money directly from the homeless. I guess Dee can’t get hold of the gift cards anymore and well she has already been caught selling donated diapers to the homeless along with plastic ware and pocketing the money. This is much better. she can steal the money directly from the good but stupid samaritans that think the money will help the homeless. Pretty soon Jan and Assbaugh will once again order the police force out to harass the homeless (until they join Capslo) and then continue to steal their money. These people should be made to lie in their own filth.


Question: Why does anyone who wants to sell something and make money on the streets such as hot dogs, snow cones, magazines, etc. need to have a permit

and a person who merely panhandles and gives nothing back in return doesn’t?


The First Amendment is the difference. The people who panhandle have their rights to Freedom of Speech. Vendors are engaged in a business and are subject to regulation.


Another incentive not to work in San Luis Obispo.


This is what is actually meant by “freedom isn’t free,” rather than the ridiculous war cliche it’s been turned into. You can’t have it both ways. Frankly, I’ll take the freedom.


Will Dee Torres find a way to subvert those funds for her own use?

Mr. Holly

We haven’t seen or heard from her very much lately. maybe since she was demoted some of her new duties may be to empty to homeless meters? Makes you wonder what is really going on.


This is absurd! Putting $$ into the hands of one previously realized to be untrustworthy? What kind of scam is this? How will the $ be distributed to the homeless? If Dee has control, what RULES (hoops to jump through) do the homeless have to abide by to get a buck? Something stinks big here. Sounds more like a control scam rather than a donation to the homeless. I want to see how this works.


Dirk Anderson

“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.”

* Meter sponsors? If most of the money is coming from sponsorships as opposed to the public dropping quarters in those classless “jingle bum” meters, what is the point in having them in the first place? Is the Bill Board and Advertising at the intersection of Hyguera and Elks club road donated?

Why does an organization such as Cap Slo with an annual budget I’m told of 50 Million need these “jingle bum” meters? Apparently these Community Action Partnership schemes are all over the Country who knew?

I must confess I’m looking a little ratty and perhaps even smelly these days, take it up with this damn Dee Torres and apparent Alzheimer patient Biz Steinman. I don’t get anything from them, but the drunks, degenerates, and idiots do.

I find myself in agreement for once with Mr. Carpenter, but for different reasons.

Jorge Estrada

While speaking to one of the band members of the generational famous group, Park Hotel, he commented,”build a stage and the performers will come.” We were discussing this idea as a business catalyst.

Although this discussion was un-related comment to our homeless issue, it just happens to be so fitting to these funding meters. The appearance of a homeless haven is no less than an attractive nuisance that will ploom into a much larger issue.

Kevin Rice



Kevin what are your ideas to address panhandling in the downtown?.

I think the City needs to install at least 1 per block in the downtown so people really start to get the concept that giving money to the panhandlers/homeless doesn’t help and actually encourages more panhandling. Exactly the issue that folks are complaining about.

The actual amount raised from the meters- excluding the sponsorships should have been made available. The United Way would have that information. Call Rick London I think he is the person at the United Way. Releasing the figures the way they were released left the door wide open for criticism such as yours and Dan’s.

The meters will be successful if the amount of panhandling is reduced and any money raised is a nice bonus in my opinion. Like I said there needs to be more.


Forget the meters. Have a city official stand on Higuera St 8 hrs/day with a sign that says “I’m begging for the homeless” or “Pennies for Prado”.

There’s likely a union classification for that kind of work. Likely more work than they are doing now.


I’ll be sure to donate a half-cent!

Mr. Holly

Maybe they should be like the old candy machines? After the money has been deposited the homeless come buy and turn the knob and receive a portion of the donation to spend as they like.

Kevin Rice

The homeless? Don’t you mean Dee Torres?


Kevin I’ll ask you again if you have any ideas to reduce panhandling in the City. However, I think I should have asked you first if you believe panhandling should even be addressed by government, in this case the City of San Luis Obispo. So I will. Should the government, in this case the City of San Luis Obispo, be addressing panhandling?.

If yes- then what should they be doing, and if No- why?

Thank you for your response.

Kevin Rice

I think we need to address panhandling by government.


Nice flippant answer. And let’s not start with semantics or some other bs that the question was ambiguous.

Should the City Council do something about panhandling by people in the downtown?. And if they should what should they be doing.

That is a pretty simple question. So what’s your answer.


Brett, you’ve bought into the money grabbing scam you leadership sold to the city, hook, line and sinker! Ask yourself this, how does putting a quarter in a meter detour anyone from asking you for spare change? The answer; it doesn’t because they will never see the money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that continued panhandling is acceptable, not at all, what I am saying is, the meters are NOT and NEVER will be the answer.


Here is how it helps, and bear with me. People want to help those who appear in need. Many of the people that are panhandling for money downtown fall into a couple of groups. Some are drunks or drug addicts, some are just passing through, some are looking to supplement what they receive from welfare (Social Security, Disability etc.) by panhandling, and some are mentally ill.

Handing them money doesn’t do anything to help them out. In fact giving them money sometimes is the worst thing to do. I understand you don’t give them money, instead giving them food. Most folks I see are handing them money because just like you they want to help in some way.

Having donation meters downtown allows those who want to help a means of doing so. I agree that there will still be folks panhandling and the donation meters won’t stop them from asking for money. And the donation meters are not final answer and they were never meant to be. I don’t think anyone ever said the donation meters would resolve the panhandling issue.

However, here is how it helps. Transients, especially, have a network where word gets around that certain places are good for panhandling. If people stop giving them money they won’t stop or won’t hang around for very long. And those folks who really need the help will get into the programs that can help them if they are not given money directly.

All the costs associated with the donation meters were either donated or are, for a lack of a better description, are salaried City employees who are getting paid regardless if they are working on something or not.

Dirk Anderson

Arn’t you a smart guy (?) and popular too. Apperently you’re some kind of local

schmuck politician? First it was the hobo bums, now this. All of the sudden this

interest in the burning issues of the day.

I think I have better things to do.

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