(Editor’s note: A Westchester resident reported that on January 12 there were nine cars in safe parking and four in the adjacent lot at 5 a.m. “The Safe Parking gate was wide open, which seems inconsistent with the idea.”)
EFFECTIVENESS OF WESTCHESTER SAFE PARKING SITE:
A Westchester resident emailed CTN December 10 and said that a Safe Parking lot had been set up for 25 cars, but there was no oversight: no guard, gates were not closed at night and the fenced-in lot was usually less than half full.
“I drove by at 5:30 a.m. and the gates were wide open and there were 12 cars inside the lot, and one car outside,” the reader said, noting that the only time the gate is closed is during the day, which means residents coming to the park can’t use the lot.
The reader continued to drive by, early and late, to track the lot and reported, “I’m starting to recognize the cars and those that are in Safe Parking at night, move to the other parking spots in the lot when the gate is closed in the morning.”
When CTN wrote a story about former Palisadian actress Hilary Swank, her bio says that after her parents separated, she and her mother moved to L.A. and lived out of their car until her mother had enough money to rent an apartment.
It appears that those in the parking lot, unlike Swank’s mother, are simply living there, moving from space to space.
IS SAFE PARKING SUCCESSFUL?:
In L.A. County, there are 633 Safe Parking spaces in 27 areas, including 10 lots in LA. City. In West L.A. there are three lots providing 100 spaces: Westchester Park (25), West Los Angeles (50) and Sawtelle (25).
CTN contacted Silvia Gutierrez, executive director of Safe Parking L.A., about the program’s operation. She responded in a December 7 email that the total cost of operating at Westchester is $262,000 annually and that $211,000 comes from (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority) LAHSA and the additional $51,000 must come from fundraising.
She noted that Councilman Bonin’s office provides the difference, but this has not yet been verified by his spokesperson David Graham-Caso.
“It costs $28.68 per space [daily] to provide safe parking,” said Guitierrez, who stated that the Westchester lot is full. (Photos from Westchester residents on several occasions show the gate open and ample spaces inside.)
Guiterrez said that in 2021, the Safe Parking program enrolled 400 clients in L.A. and “we placed 109 into stable housing.” Fifty-eight gained employment and 316 received housing and service plans.
“We also help with financial assistance,” Guiterrez said, noting that “financial assistance removes barriers for clients, supports them into housing and maintaining their vehicles in compliance and good working conditions so they continue to park safely.”
About 75 people received financial assistance for vehicle and smog checks ($46,163), 40 got help with insurance ($25,910), 29 had help with vehicle registration ($6,306), two had their vehicles returned from impound ($1,146), 23 got housing help with rent/furniture ($27,057), six had help repairing their credit and gas cards ($4,300), and DACA and other issues for eight people added $1,456. A total of $112,340 was spent in financial assistance, which is in addition to the $262,00 for running the lot.
Westchester has the only Safe Parking program located in a public park — and residents wonder why. They ask why the rules for Safe Parking are not followed at the Westchester site.
CTN also wonders that if the City can put a program into a public area without any public input, why couldn’t the same happen in Pacific Palisades?