A long-discussed option to provide "safe" parking for people living in their vehicle should become reality this month in Long Beach.
Teresa Chandler, deputy city manager in charge of services for the homeless, said Wednesday, Jan. 29, that a parking lot in west Long Beach is being repaved, fenced and lighting is being added in preparation for the pilot program. The location is at 1833 Harbor Ave., an overflow parking lot for the Good News Church of God.
"We went through the RFP (Request For Proposals) process and didn't receive any responses," Chandler said. "Then this gentleman came forward and offered this overflow lot… There will be 15 spaces (which can accommodate RVs)."
Money from the Mayor's Fund for the Homeless is being used to prepare the lot, which will include portable toilets, hand washing stations and security. Chandler said there would be someone on site to help people access services available to the homeless. Money to operate the site will come from the state Homeless Emergency Aid Program, she said.
The lot will be regulated, Chandler added, and only people referred by the Long Beach Multi-Service Center will be allowed to park there. Families will get first preference. Once someone secures a space, they can stay there for up to 90 days, she said.
One of the conditions imposed on people seeking a safe parking space will be registration with and involvement in programs at the Multi-Service Center. The center, at 1301 12th St. (about six blocks away), is where people will be able to shower, as well, Chandler said.
Talk about creating a parking area for people living in cars and campers began in earnest in 2016. The idea resurfaced last year, with Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce taking a lead role.
In October last year, Kelly Colopy, director of the Long Beach Health and Human Services Department, announced that a contract was being negotiated to start the safe parking program. Talks stalled, but the city went ahead with another program offering one-time waivers of parking ticket and towing fees for people who were homeless.
Chandler said a shipping container will be modified and stocked as an office/supply center for the safe parking lot. A specific date for opening isn't available — the lot is under construction now.