Dr. Sale's speech to Los Angeles Homeless and Poverty Committee
To the Homeless and Poverty Committee:
Good afternoon honorable Council Members. I am here today to beseech your help. My name is Dr. Scott Sale and I am one of the advocates and founders of Safe Parking LA that started over 6 years ago at Leo Baeck Temple. Our 501C3’s mission is to be as supportive as possible of the initiation of Safe parking lot programs in every council district. We have worked toward a Citywide Safe Parking program as in every council district there are people experiencing vehicular homelessness and it is only getting worse. The Green Streets program as endorsed by this committee was reasonable in the beginning, but so many of the identified streets have been taken away by local restrictions. Our group has promoted The Green Streets throughout the city. BUT, it theoretically expires July 2018 and then what are we going to do without Safe Parking programs. Are we going to Make it a crime to sleep in your car anywhere in the city even on Green Streets. Safe Parking Lots were supposed to be the answer, but as of this moment there is only 1 program and as you all know it is WAY TOO expensive.
WE have been out in every district trying to find parking lot partners: Private and faith-based. In only 1 City Council District have we been working on a City-owned lot that is being seriously addressed as a Safe Parking Site. But we have 10 other faith-based organizations that are actively pursuing being Safe Parking partners, but none have crossed the finish line.
Here is my message. You are going to be wrestling with Ordinance 85.02 come this June and either make it a crime to sleep in your vehicle anywhere, or Step Up your Outreach and Implore Lot Owners, in particular, those 10 that we are working with to HELP. Those 10 lots could handle if organized properly per our model 400 vehicles which would be a great start and set the precedent and template for others to join. We need you to tell them that you need their HELP. Tell them, that there is money and there is. Tell them that Safe Parking LA will provide:
Insurance, Security, Sanitation, and Wrap Around Case Management from the Service Planning agencies already funded by LAHSA.
Tell them that with Safe Parking lot programs the work of LAFD and LAPD are reduced. Tell them in Santa Barbara and San Diego where Safe Parking has been in existence for over 10 years The Safe Parking Patrons have NEVER vandalized any of the 31 lots ( public and private). NEVER!! That is over 200 cars per night for 365 nites per year for 10 years. Why would a person living in a vehicle want to lose their nighttime parking privileges by causing a problem? People living in vehicles are Way More Higher Functioning than the group of people having to live in tents or on the street suffering from substance abuse and emotional dysfunctions. You cannot maintain a drivers license or car registrations or your car insurance if you don’t think straight. The 10,000 people who are the targets of safe parking MUST go through a screening application and interview before they are given a Permit and a Placard. Otherwise, they are not allowed to park there.
You and the Mayor MUST IMPLORE your faith leaders who have a plethora of parking to let us use their lots at NIGHT ONLY. We promise that we will return the lot to them at 6 am every single morning just the way they left it. Or we have to use City-owned facilities which would be more complicated in many ways.
Tell those Faith Leaders to say Yes and Hold them to It. Tell them the City Attorney’s office will indemnify them. Tell them this is such a winnable, marketable solution for the City. Safe Parking does not have to break the bank and it is a way more efficient way to manage people experiencing homelessness who want to be housed. Safe Parking is intended to be a more humane, transitional refuge. We need to not criminalize this subsegment of the population, rather we need treat them with compassion and caring and community so that they are not harassed on our streets. Tell those 10 Faith Leaders that you will do whatever it takes to support them. If we ask you to meet with them face to face, please do not say NO. If you say YES, you can get them to say yes.