MARINA, Calif. - The Monterey County Board of Supervisors tackled illegal camping on Tuesday, with the passage of a safe parking pilot program. The issue was brought to light over the summer, when more and more recreational vehicles and cars were camped out on Lapis Road just outside of Marina city limits.
At one point there were upwards of 70 RV’s and cars parked along the one-mile roadway. It was becoming a public health and safety hazard, because some residents were dumping human waste and their garbage in the area. It forced the Monterey County Sheriff’s office to ask people living there to leave or face a fine. A compromise was later reached, allowing people with permits to continue camping there, but those permits were set to expire at the end of November.
On Tuesday, supervisors unanimously approved a safe parking pilot program at the District 4 Supervisor’s Office in Marina, located at 2616 First Avenue. The program allows up to 15 cars and RV’s to park between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. starting on December 1.
However, not many members of the public supported this location.
"I applaud the county and the supervisors for taking on an important homeless issue and the safe parking program is a good program, the location however, this particular pilot location is a bad location," said Doug Yount, project director of Dunes Project.
Yount voiced concerns about the parking program being in a dilapidated area without lighting or hookup’s, and encouraged the county to find another option. He also questioned whether the property use was legal. During the supervisors meeting though, county employees said it was.
But the county said it has no other choice. With the winter weather season just around the corner, they wanted to act fast and said efforts to find a 24-hour location haven’t been successful. This location is on county-owned property.
"We think by selecting this location, we'll be able to test, we'll be able to grow, we'll be able to work out issues and we'll be able to work with our neighbors to figure out how we can either improve the program or, if people have alternative locations we can consider, but it's urgent that we get the program started," said Elliott Robinson, director of Department of Social Services.
It’ll cost the county $150,000 to run for a year. That will pay for private security patrols, case management, portable toilets and a dumpster.
In the meantime, some campers say they aren’t leaving their site.
"Probably none of us will take advantage of this site, simply because it costs us money every day to move,” said Terrell “Turbo” Morris.