California’s housing crisis is leading to more people sleeping in their cars and now the state may require its biggest cities and counties to provide a safe parking lot, including access to bathrooms, to those with no place to stay.
Assembly Bill 891 passed the full Assembly Friday and now goes to the Senate.
It would require cities and counties with more than 330,000 people to establish a safe parking program by June 1, 2022. The safe parking programs would be required to have a bathroom facility and onsite security. Those wishing to use the safe parking would need to apply and possibly undergo a background check.
Analysis done by the Homeless Policy Research Institue found most safe parking programs that already exist require those who want to participate have a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance; sex offenders and recent violent felons are also generally prohibited from using the lots.
Once the safe parking programs are established, cities and counties would work with local nonprofits to make sure those who live in their cars know about the option.
The bill’s author, Asm. Autumn Burge (D- 62nd District), said the bill is needed California deals with a housing crisis. “Establishing a safe parking program in California’s most populated cities and having at least one in each county will provide a safe place for vehicle dwelling. These programs can be overseen and controlled by local entities, they will result in these vehicles being moved away from nightly street parking and into designated lots, and create a sense of normalcy for individuals who are living out of their vehicles. The goal of this measure is to help transition these individuals into more stable and permanent housing.”
In other programs, participants get permits for 30 to 90 days. Those permits are renewed based on how much the participant has used the available case management services.
The original draft of the bill required all 58 counties in California to participate. The amended version only requires counties with a population higher than 330,000.
According to the US Census Bureau, there are 22 counties meeting that threshold:
- Los Angeles: 10,105,722
- San Diego: 3,283,665
- Orange: 3,155,816
- Riverside: 2,355,002
- San Bernardino: 2,121,220
- Santa Clara: 1,911,226
- Alameda: 1,629,615
- Sacramento: 1,495,400
- Contra Costa: 1,123,678
- Fresno: 971,616
- Kern: 878,744
- San Francisco: 864,263
- Ventura: 847,834
- San Mateo: 763,450
- San Joaquin: 724,153
- Stanislaus: 535,684
- Sonoma: 500,943
- Tulare: 458,809
- Santa Barbara: 442,996
- Solano: 434,981
- Monterey: 433,168
- Placer: 374,985
According to the US Census Bureau data from 2015 there are 11 cities in California with a population of more than 330,000 and would be required to establish a safe parking program:
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Jose
- San Francisco
- Long Beach
- Santa Ana
Stockton has a population of approximately 306,000; Modesto’s population is approximately 211,000.
Several cities in the state already have similar programs, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and San Jose.
As for where these lots would go– cities and counties would identify local lots or other properties that could be used, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and the Department of General Services website.
Earlier this year AB 302 was introduced requiring California Community Colleges to allow homeless students to park in special spaces overnight so they can sleep in their cars. The current law already requires California Community Colleges to provide showers for homeless students in good standing.+