Encinitas holds final forum for proposed parking lot for homeless

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ENCINITAS, Calif. -- Encinitas residents had a final opportunity Tuesday evening to voice their opinions about a proposed overnight parking lot for the homeless.

The public forum, led by city staff, packed a room at the Encinitas Community Center.

The Safe Parking Program is run by Jewish Family Service of San Diego. If approved, it would be located at Leichtag Commons, a farming campus off of Saxony Road. The overnight lot would provide 24-hour security, lighting and bathrooms to a maximum of 25 prescreened participants. Pets, visitors, drugs and alcohol would not be allowed on the site.

“We’re looking for people really committed to getting back into housing," said JFS CEO, Michael Hopkins.

Some Encinitas residents shared concerns about safety, traffic and the location of the proposed program. Others are worried it will attract a homeless population from outside of Encinitas.

“Walk to downtown Encinitas, you will see that the problem is growing,"  said Crista Curtis with the  North County Citizens Coalition.

"We are upset and angry," one speaker said at the forum. "We want to help the homeless. We know there are solutions out there -- this is not the solution."

Supporters of the program also spoke out.

“We’re not talking about rapists and robbers, we’re talking about families," one speaker said.

“They are like us. They are only different because they need our help," another said.

Among the crowd was Rachel Collins, who said she was homeless for more than a decade before getting back on her feet.

“I just want to get the message across that it can happen to anyone to lose their shelter," Collins told FOX 5. "It's important to elevate others back to be sheltered and cared for.”

The parking program was first proposed to city council members in November. It is scheduled for a vote on Jan. 22. If approved, the program would begin on Jan. 30.

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