ENCINITAS, Calif. -- Encinitas residents voiced concerns Thursday night about a proposed overnight parking lot for homeless people living out of their cars.
Members of the North County Citizens Coalition, including elected leaders like County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar and Encinitas City Councilmember Tony Kranz, packed the Encinitas Library to urge the city not to move forward with the Safe Overnight Homeless Parking Program.
Gaspar voiced her opposition to the lot, which would lie at the Leichtag Commons, a farming campus off Saxony Road.
“I encourage the city to reconsider and accept the assistance of HOPE,” said Supervisor Gaspar. She offered alternative programs to help the homeless.
Some residents say there is no guarantee current homeless families living in their cars in Encinitas would have the priority.
“It’s already showing to bring a lot of new homeless into the area,” said homeowner Bhavani Kirnac. “So it’s the opposite of solving the homelessness problem here. It’s creating crisis where none previously existed.”
After the proposal was presented to Encinitas City Council in November, councilmembers decided to move forward with the program. But Kranz voted against it.
“To me, I think it’s important that we’re implementing a program that prioritizes people in Encinitas,” Kranz said.
Other residents are also upset the city did little to notify them or keep them informed of the program.
But during the meeting, one homeless man spoke up for others like him.
“Everyone here is going home tonight into a bed,” David Alan said. “I’m going home to a bush in a sleeping bag. And I hope that you know you don’t get beat up at night or you don’t get robbed or it doesn’t rain or being homeless, you’re not a criminal.”
Supporters of the program say it will help keep people like Alan from falling into chronic homelessness and provide staffing and services to get them into permanent housing.
“I want all the resources I can get,” Alan said. ”I would do anything to get off the street. I would work all day long for free if I could just have a bed."
“I certainly hope they’re not going to approve it,” Kirnac said. “I mean at the very least, they should take the pause.”
The city council is set to vote on whether to approve the contract for the parking lot on January 22.