Echo Park library branch lot could become “safe parking” site for the homeless

Echo Park - Plans are moving ahead to open a library parking lot overnight for people who live in vehicles - though little has been heard of the idea since it came up nearly a year ago.

This comes as restrictions were recently renewed on sleeping in vehicles on residential streets despite the slow approval of "safe parking lots" where the homeless can park overnight.

Though there are about 180 safe parking spaces in various lots throughout the city, about 9,500 people are living in about 5,700 vehicles in the city, the L.A. Times said.

A spokesman for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell indicated the plan to use the Edendale Library’s parking lot in Echo Park as a safe overnight resting point is in the works.

"The project was put out for bid during the [Request for Proposal] process in April/May 2019 through [the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority]," said Tony Arranaga, a spokesman for the District 13 councilmember, in an email.

It would be the first so-called “safe parking” location in Echo Park. 

The Edendale lot is located near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Alvarado Street, and has about 30 spaces, according to Park Me. The lot is currently gated.

Specifics have not been worked out for opening the lot to people who live in vehicles. But if it follows the pattern of other “safe parking” lots throughout the city, it might open to homeless parking starting one or two hours after the library closed, and ending one or two hours before it opened. It may have an unarmed security guard, as well as access to a restroom. Lots would require a parking permit, but would be free on a first-come/first-served basis. Parkers are usually prohibited from camping, cooking in their vehicle, sleeping outside of their vehicle, drinking or doing drugs.

As for the process of making this all happen, “I should have more info to share very soon,” Arranaga said.

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