IMACA Held Virtual Community Meeting on Overnight Homeless Parking Proposal

IMACA and the Consortium of Care have been working on a safe place for the homeless to park their cars overnight at a location with access to restroom facilities. What sounds like a no-brainer hasn’t been. Working through issues from the community has been an on-going process and the topic at a virtual meeting last week.

Larry Emerson, IMACA’s housing and planning director, defined the need. According to the homeless count conducted in January, there are 121 homeless in Bishop, including 14 children, 16 veterans and 11 victims of domestic violence. Half of them live out of their vehicles.

Here’s some of the background: the Nazarene Church on West Line Street offered its parking lot as a potential site. Early this year, the Planning Commission approved a Conditional Use Permit for the project. The conditions included a security plan.

The lot would be open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Participants would apply and be screened for one of the 15 available spots. An on-site monitor would walk the area at least once an hour. Cameras would be placed near the restroom and be monitored. Motion-sensitive lights would be placed on the east and west side of the lot. Participants would have the chance to be linked to other available services.

When COVID-19 hit, the Consortium jumped through the necessary hoops to get approval for a temporary overnight parking spot at the old Kmart lot but now wants to transition to a permanent site at the church.

The problem for some Bishop residents: the Church is adjacent to the Bishop Union High School Urban Farm. Like any working farm, the students tend to their animals at all hours of the day and often into the night.

According to Susi Baines, Consortium chair, the written responses were two to one in favor, but more of those against responded during the meeting including a cryptic comment from a former FAA farm student, “you can’t trust people like this.”

The program will still have to the Inyo Board of Supervisors and issues raised at the community meeting addressed in the security plan.

Here’s a run-down of some of the pros and cons raised and observations made:

  • A Los Angeles Police Department veteran said Bishop PD calls dropped when the over-night parking at Kmart was set up.
  • The same mask requirements and social distancing will be maintained at the facility; PPE will be provided.
  • Anyone using drugs on site will be kicked out.
  • The homeless are part of the community and any possible harassment could go both ways—FFA students could harass the homeless.
  • Background checks are conducted to the extent they are legal. Megan’s Law allows for notification of sex offenders.
  • There have been some altercations at the Kmart site. According to Bishop PD Chief Ted Stec there were 20 calls since May 5. Inyo Probation Chief Jeff Thomson explained the disturbances had been minor and were primarily early on as people learned the rules. “The people we talked to were happy they had a place,” Thomson said. “Those that weren’t happy went somewhere else.”
  • That somewhere else includes public lands, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power land, City Park, community streets and parking lots.

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6 Responses to IMACA Held Virtual Community Meeting on Overnight Homeless Parking Proposal

  1. Good riddance September 22, 2020 at 4:50 pm #

    I don’t think I will be donating to iMaca anymore if this is what they do with donation money.

    • Pedro September 23, 2020 at 9:12 pm #

      Misunderstood Pittance,

      Huh, IMACA donates necessities to people in need? Who’d have known?

      Good Kid Dance, You’re good people if donating to the community to begin with. They’re good people, they’ll understand if you choose to help someone else. Just strikes me as funny since housing isn’t a new focus for IMACA. You may be able to direct your donation to another program if you don’t agree with this one. Give them a call and keep giving to a better Inyo/Mono.

  2. Caroline September 22, 2020 at 10:23 am #

    We call the police on homeless and indigent people because they make us feel ashamed. We want them gone because we feel ashamed when we see them. We don’t want to look at them because we are ashamed we are not taking care of them. We are ashamed of how we treat them.

    Trust me, as a former bedside nurse who specialized in addictions, and also as someone who lived without a home (voluntarily) for 6 years, IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. There is only one mishap, one accident, one mistake, one fire or earthquake or illness between you and homelessness (and drug abuse). Be kind. Look at them, take care of them.

  3. M. Anderson September 21, 2020 at 1:38 pm #

    And many of the homeless are children. We should be ashamed.

  4. Susan September 21, 2020 at 12:58 pm #

    Thank you…I agree. I’m highly educated white female living in her car. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t wish homelessness on anyone. Try living homeless for 7 days and see how it is living in your vehicle. Thank you.

  5. Korina September 21, 2020 at 8:36 am #

    It really saddens, even disgusts me, that the FAA farm student said, “we can’t trust people like this.” Trust people like WHAT?!?!? These homeless people could be your classmate, your FAA farm-mate, your former neighbor that’s fallen on hard times. You, none of us, know why anyone has become homeless. We should not be passing judgment. We should not think of a homeless person any less than any other human being just because they are homeless. Everyone needs, should have, a safe place to sleep and have access to a restroom.

    I really hope this can get figured out. The community will benefit from it the sooner it is.

    To directly address the FAA farmers student, why don’t you go try it; living homeless. Living out of your car (if your lucky), trying to find a place to sleep every night, having constant anxiety waiting for someone knocking on your window telling you you have to move, trying to find a place to go to the bathroom, clean up/shower… ya go a head and try it. This difference is, for you, when you get tired of your “experiment” of living like the homeless, you can just run back to your house, with your warm soft bed, hot running water, refrigerator full of food, not having your community looking down upon you, with no worries about how you are going to conduct your next move…just surviving.


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