This week Santa Rosa's city council discussed spending money on safe parking for unhoused people living in their cars, something advocates have suggested for years. The plan is to create an overnight safe parking site in each of the city’s seven districts. The proposed budget for the safe parking program is currently set at $315,000, but that may increase to include more housing services. The amount of spots available at each lot will depend on funding.
This program would significantly expand the existing 20 safe parking spots located at churches throughout Santa Rosa. Homeless Services Manager Kelli Kuykendall said residents and businesses have urged the council to provide more shelter to the estimated 1500 unhoused people in Santa Rosa.
"We’ve been very active in the last few years trying to respond to and address encampments throughout Santa Rosa and many of those have been vehicle encampments including RVs and trailers. And so there’s a real need in the community for it," Kuykendall said.
Co-Founder of Homeless Action Adrienne Lauby said she’s been pushing for a safe parking program for six years. She said she is thrilled the city is moving forward with a program to provide immediate help, especially with the weekly encampment sweeps she’s witnessed over the last several months. But she said safe parking sites need to operate 24/7, so people living in their cars don’t have to wake up every morning and figure out where to park during the day.
"The first thing they ask us is where can I go," Lauby said. "Where can I be where I’m not illegal, where I know I can sleep through the night without a cop or a neighbor or someone coming into my space without waking me up with hostility."
The council will hear more about the program and funding options on June 22.