Encinitas council narrowly approves new ‘safe parking’ program site for homeless

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ENCINITAS, Calif. – Encinitas City Council on Wednesday narrowly approved a safe parking site at the city’s senior center, a proposal that drew some criticism from residents due to its proximity to schools.

The council weighed the decision to locate the lot at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center at 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego for a maximum of 25 vehicles. The site is considered a form of a homeless shelter and while the program itself has received support, the location was the subject of plenty of criticism.

In the lot, participants may be onsite from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week with case management there as well. No drugs or alcohol are permitted.

Ultimately, the council voted to approve the proposal in a 3-2 vote with Councilmember Joy Lyndes and Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz dissenting.

During Wednesday’s meeting, councilmembers took dozens of calls from community members both against the location and in support of it, including a woman currently using the city’s temporary safe parking location.

“What I’m hearing throughout the community is that these people are referring to us as drug addicts, mentally ill people, child molesters, criminals,” Jody Ipsen said. “I just want to reiterate that I am part of that 41% group that uses the safe parking as I transition to affordable housing.”

Encinitas resident Jennifer Kuckenbaker noted that the site is near a middle school with some 800 children, another K-8 school with around 500 children as well as a Montessori school, a senior center and a Boys and Girls Club all nearby.

“The participants are screened to a certain degree,” Natalie Settoon said, “but what happens are the participants who are rejected. They come here and then once they’re rejected they remain in the neighboring community and that’s where the problems fall.”

The safe parking program would operate at Oakcrest Park Drive through June 2022.

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