ENCINITAS, Calif. – Hundreds of people packed an Encinitas City Council meeting Wednesday to speak for and against a proposed overnight parking lot for the homeless, before the council ultimately voted to approve the project.
The Safe Parking Program was first proposed by Jewish Family Service in the fall. Leichtag Commons, a farming community off of Saxony Road, would provide bathrooms, security and 25 parking places along with case management to help those experiencing homelessness transition into permanent housing.
After more than five hours of hearing from the public and discussing the program, the council voted 4-1 to move forward with the project. Councilman Tony Kranz was the only dissenting vote.
— Justina Myers (@JustinaReports) January 23, 2020
The initial four-month term of the program is expected to begin Jan. 30.
Ahead of the vote, residents cited concerns about safety and the location of the lot. Others questioned how candidates would be screened. According to the city clerk, 175 people signed up to speak during the meeting.
"I’m not against the homeless. I’m against that location and getting backdoored about not having a voice," one resident said.
Others felt the application process was being rushed or shared concerns that the parking lot would attract a homeless population from outside of Encinitas.
“Once they’re here, they’re here to stay," one resident said.
Many homeless advocates spoke out in favor of the program, including some who have formerly experienced homelessness, saying the lot is needed.
"It won’t solve the problem of homelessness, but at least it’s a small step forward," one speaker said.