SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City officials and homeless advocates announced an expansion Tuesday of the city's program to establish safe parking lots for residents who live out of their cars or recreational vehicles.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Councilman Scott Sherman and representatives of Jewish Family Service of San Diego jointly announced that the city will make a parking lot in Mission Valley near SDCCU Stadium available to vehicles in the next 45 days.
The lot, which will also have supportive services for homeless residents, like job training, financial education and housing assistance, has space for up to 80 RVs or 200 regular cars and trucks.
Jewish Family Service oversees the two existing parking lots and will do the same at the third, which is located near the intersection of Friars Road and Mission Village Drive.
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"Often when someone becomes homeless for the first time, they end up living in their car and don't know where else to turn," Faulconer said. "The Safe Parking Program helps those individuals find a stable place to stay while they access services, look for a job and, ultimately, find a permanent place to call home."
The announcement comes on the eve of the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee's scheduled discussion of a limited ban on residents sleeping in their cars to replace a 36-year-old ordinance the council repealed in February. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a similar Los Angeles vehicle habitation law in 2014 for being too vague.
Under the proposed new ordinance, residents who live in their cars would be barred from parking within 500 feet of a public school, excluding colleges and universities, or a place of residence between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
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The city's three safe parking lots will be open and available to residents during that same 12-hour stretch, however. The city did not say whether plans are in the works to open more safe parking lots in the immediate future.
At the two existing lots (on Balboa Avenue and Aero Drive) and the new one, Jewish Family Service of San Diego will have the capacity to assist roughly 300 homeless individuals and families every night.
"Our goal is always to holistically help clients, so that they can get back on their feet and into a home," said JFS CEO Michael Hopkins. "This may include providing them access to food, transportation, benefits assistance and much more. We strive to help all San Diegans move their lives forward."