San Luis Obispo County kicked out a handful of residents from an overnight parking site for homeless people on Friday after “repeated incidents and threats of violence,” the county confirmed Friday.
Around 9 a.m. Friday, the county evicted six residents from the Oklahoma Avenue safe parking site, along with their vehicles, for “safety reasons,” the county said in a statement.
The county also removed several abandoned vehicles unrelated to the evictions.
“Our primary concern is the health and safety of those staying at Oklahoma Avenue,” the county said. “There have been repeated incidents and threats of violence on site.”
The evicted residents were told Thursday by a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office deputy that they would be forced to leave the site, former site resident Jamie Arnold said Friday morning.
According to Jack Lahey, homeless services director at the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, CAPSLO social workers and case managers were also on hand Thursday, along with county homeless services division manager Jeff Al-Mashat.
Verbal and physical violence is prohibited on the site, along with drugs, alcohol and weapons of any kind, according to site rules.
Arnold, who was among those evicted, denied she had done anything that constituted a rule violation.
“I’ve lived here almost a year, and I had to get everything out by this morning,” Arnold said. “Repeated rule violators? They told us there was no rules, and nobody’s sticking to their own rules.”
Why were SLO County safe parking site residents evicted?
Lahey said the evictions were an action taken by the county to keep other site residents safe.
While the county operates the site and serves as its administrator, CAPSLO has largely been the service provider through the site’s two-year history, acting as case managers and housing navigators for residents.
“This is the county managing the site — that’s really what it is,” Lahey said. “To my understanding, they’re enforcing some site rules that have been documented, and we’re here to provide the support for people who are exiting the site and the people who are on the site.”
When the county announced in February that it would be closing the Oklahoma Avenue parking site, San Luis Obispo County homeless services division manager Joe Dzvonik said the county would work with all remaining site residents to move them into various housing situations.
The county banned visitors from entering the parking site on June 1, due to reports of excessive partying and drug use.
Lahey said habitual violations of rules concerning violence and substance abuse cannot coexist with ongoing case management.
On Friday, Lahey said, CAPSLO was on the site to help evicted residents cover expenses related to leaving the safe parking site, such as hotel room fees and transportation.
Homeless residents asked to sign new contracts
On Sept. 7, residents of the Oklahoma Avenue safe parking site were asked to sign new contracts to receive services.
The new contracts, which contain minor changes from those originally signed by site residents, prohibit clients from performing vehicle mechanical work on the parking site involving gasoline and oil.
At the recommendation of the San Luis Obispo County fire marshal, the county ensures each resident has a working carbon monoxide and smoke detector in their sleeping quarters, according to the county’s statement.
Residents without these detectors are given a free combination carbon monoxide and smoke detector, the county said in its statement.
According to county communications program manager Suzie Freeman, all residents living at the site must have participant agreements on file.
“We are committed to working with those who are staying there and following rules to find alternative shelter and service options as we work towards the long-term goal of permanent closure,” the county said in its statement.