Richmond council asked to pick site for Safe Parking Pilot Program

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Richmond council asked to pick site for Safe Parking Pilot Program
Of 35 sites, these three emerged as top staff recommendations to launch the Safe Parking Pilot Program for individuals living in their cars. (Images credited to City of Richmond and Google Maps)

Richmond is seeking a location to establish a Safe Parking Pilot Program that will provide a secure place for people who live in their cars to sleep and access services.

On Tuesday, Richmond City Council will be asked to provide city staff with direction on site selection for the pilot program. The ideal site would be able to accommodate about 30 vehicles, including RVs and cars, a temporary trailer or tent for on-site service providers, along with fencing, lighting, and hookups for water and/or electrical, according to the city.

After evaluating 35 public and private sites recommended by City Councilmembers (as shown in the map below), city staff are recommending they choose among these three top-ranked locations: the Lighthouse Building at 1800 Barrett Ave.; the Fire Training Center at Cutting Boulevard and Stege Avenue, and the Richmond Civic Center employee parking lot across from the Main Library at 27th Street and Nevin Ave.

The Safe Parking Pilot Program is expected to cost at least $560,000 for the first year. The funding will come from a $260,000 State Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) grant from Contra Costa County, as well as the city’s in-lieu affordable housing fees charged to developers.

City staff is also recommending hiring Housing Consortium of East Bay (HCEB), which operates several safe parking program sites in Oakland, to operate Richmond’s program.

City Council has made the creation of a Safe Parking Pilot Program a goal since 2017. The need has grown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, during which city staff says there has been “an exponential growth in vehicle dwellers.”

“Staff believes this increase may be due to the loss of jobs, the closing of shelters and other group living quarters, and the increasing costs of housing in the Bay Area Region and California,” the city said. “The Pilot Safe Parking Program would create a safe and secure place for car and recreation vehicle dwellers to park and sleep, increase access to available services, reduce traffic and the number of people living illegally in their vehicles on City streets, decrease enforcement actions and resulting legal costs to homeless individuals, and provide resources to secure permanent housing and economic stability.”

Tuesday’s virtual City Council meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. To find out how to join, click here.