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Safe Parking Program Meets Pushback

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San Jose’s plan to provide a safe place for homeless people to park was met with criticism on Wednesday. About 100 people showed up to a virtual meeting hosted by Councilmember Sergio Jimenez to oppose the safe parking program. Over 3,000 residents have already signed a petition against it.

The safe parking program is a plan to lease a VTA lot in South San Jose for homeless people with RVs to park. The city chose the parking lot at the Santa Teresa Station for its number of spots available and its proximity to necessary amenities such as dumpsters and bathrooms. Under the plan, residents of the lot would have to check in whenever they reenter the lot with on-site staff. Staff would be on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Many of the city’s 6,700 homeless residents live in RVs or vans full-time. Like a lot of other cities, San Jose doesn’t allow these vehicles to park just anywhere, hence the need for a safe parking site.

Championed by Jimenez, the program will likely be approved in the second half of 2022. The current plan will establish a five-year lease for the program, which the nonprofit LifeMoves will operate. However, the program isn’t necessarily popular with local San Jose residents.

Why do residents oppose the safe parking program?

At the meeting on Wednesday, South San Jose came out in opposition to the program. Many voiced concerns about attracting other homeless people to the area, which they said would reduce property values and safety. Others noted a nearby public school as a safety concern. City officials assured residents that the site would have security present at all times, helping to keep the neighborhood safe.

Another concern that the locals had was that South San Jose had a disproportionate number of homeless services. However, city officials and homeless advocates disputed this notion. The new site would be in District 2, while most of the city’s homeless services are located in Districts 3 and 7. Those districts are part of East San Jose. In fact, homeless advocate RJ Ramsey said that these services are “rarely” seen in South San Jose.

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