LA MESA, Calif. -- Dozens of residents showed up to the La Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday evening to speak out against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation opening a parole office in the community of Mt. Helix.
The topic was not an agenda item, but nearly the entire time for public comment was taken up by residents speaking out against the parole office.
The proposed office would be located at 9400 Grossmont Summit Drive, which backs up to several homes and is less than a mile from Grossmont High School.
"Our children are already exposed to too much violence, and the threat of violence in their lives. If one student is damaged physically or emotionally by one parolee it will be unforgivable," said one woman.
Many residents felt uneasy about the possibility of convicted felons regularly coming in and out of the area.
Other issues raised involved no nearby public transportation and very limited parking at the building. The facility would have 65 staff members, but there are only 41 parking spaces available according to the city.
La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis promised all comments would be passed along to the state department, which is currently in a 60-day period of considering public input on its proposal.
Stephanie Boethin and her husband Daniel helped organize an online petition against the parole office, which had already gathered nearly 1,500 signatures as of Tuesday evening.
"I implore you and I challenge you," said Stephanie Boethin said. "This could be the most difficult thing in your career that you do, but you need to work for us to make sure that our communities are safe."
Mayor Arapostathis also mentioned the city is in the process of determining what level of power the city will have against the state regarding the location of the parole office. The next step for the state would be holding a town hall meeting in the community, but a date has yet to be set.
In the meantime, people against the proposal are not stopping at the city level. They plan to meet with Senator Brian Jones on Tuesday, December 18 to try to get his help in opposing the parole office.