Tag Archives: Homelessness

Temporary Homeless Safe Parking Project Gets the Green Light

Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA) have found a suitable location to implement a Safe Parking Project in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order, which requires counties and cities to provide suitable shelter for the state’s homeless population.


Individuals experiencing homelessness will now be permitted to park in front of the old Kmart building next to Taco Bell. There will be portable toilets and sanitation stations on site to ensure that those staying in the old Kmart parking lot are practicing the recommended sanitation guidelines provided by the California Department of Public Health.


Since the state of emergency was declared by Governor Newsom on March 19, 2020, both IMACA and Inyo County have been scrambling to find a suitable location to shelter the homeless.


According to Assistant Director of Inyo County Health and Human Services, Meaghan McCamman, the county played a supporting role in helping IMACA find a suitable location to shelter the homeless. “IMACA has looked for a long time for a suitable spot. We need to have social distancing available for the vulnerable populations if we are to fully reopen the economy. This is an IMACA project. When the governor put aside 150 million dollars to help shelter the homeless, IMACA, which acts as the Continuum of Care in the area was the recipient of some of those funds. The county has acted in a supporting role,” McCamman said.


McCamman emphasized that the Safe Parking Zone will not be permanent. “This is an emergency parking situation. This is not a long-term situation. I know the Continuum of Care is looking for a long-term situation, but the lease is set to expire with the lifting of the declared emergency,” McCamman said.

The lifting of the state of emergency would come from Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson.


There is a big difference between IMACA’s Safe Parking Project that was set to be implemented at the Bishop Church of the Nazarene and the Safe Parking Project that will be instituted in the old Kmart parking space. Homeless people residing in their cars were only permitted to stay at the Church of the Nazarene from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Now, the homeless who stay in the old Kmart parking lot, must stay in the parking lot unless they are performing essential business.


Housing and Planning Director for IMACA, Larry Emerson, said, “There is shelter in place order, and people parking at the lot are expected to stay there unless they are conducting essential business or if they recreating outside while maintaining social distance.”


Emerson says the parking lot will be patrolled by law enforcement along with IMACA staff. “Yes they [law enforcement] will be present. Additionally, IMACA will have 24-hour monitoring for the spot on site,” Emerson remarked.


There is also no limit to the amount of people who can park near the old Kmart building. The only requirement is that those staying in their vehicles must practice physical distancing. “There is no limit to the number of parking spots. We will expand and contract in order to maintain a safe social distance for those who don’t have a home to go to,” Emerson said.


The Church of the Nazarene Safe Parking Project which was being discussed before the pandemic allowed for up to fifteen vehicles to be on site.


According to the Housing and Planning Director, the number of portable bathrooms and sanitation stations will depend on the amount of people who are staying in the old Kmart parking lot. “This will be driven by how many folks we have using the parking lot. We are starting out with two standard portable restrooms and one wheelchair accessible restroom. Sanitation facilities will be available as well.” Emerson remarked.


With the latest decision to move to “phase two” of reopening society, Governor Newsom has said that local municipalities may be able to open quicker depending on whether or not they meet certain criteria. McCamman said multiple times to KIBS/KBOV News that one of those requirements is finding suitable shelter for the homeless. “The timing right now is really perfect. Local jurisdictions now have more flexibility, which allows them to move faster than the state. Having safe space available for the homeless is a part of the reopening process,” McCamman remarked.


The City of Bishop gave the green light to both the county and IMACA to use the old Kmart parking lot to shelter those without a place to go. Mayor Laura Smith, gave the okay on the plan, and said that if anything goes wrong, Bishop will have the authority to discontinue the Safe Parking Project. “The city has received input on the plan, and I signed off on it. This project is not in lieu of the Church of the Nazarene project. This is only temporary during the emergency declaration. As soon as this period is over, the project is done. Also, if there is any problem and the city does not want it anymore, then it is done,” Smith said.


Because of the declared state of emergency, citizens of the public do not have the opportunity to appeal the Safe Parking Project at the old Kmart parking lot.

Homeless Safe Parking Program Gets the Green Light

Inyo-Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA) is preparing to establish and operate a Safe Parking Project at the Church of the Nazarene in Bishop.

On January 22, 2020, the Inyo County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit, which allows up to fifteen vehicles to park at the church parking lot. County documents state that an IMACA Case Manager will be available to respond to any emergencies that occur on the property. The Parking area will also be monitored by IMACA staff nightly.

The homeless individuals residing in their cars will have access to the restroom facilities at the Church of the Nazarene, and will only be allowed to park at the property from 7 pm to 7 am.

There are concerns that the homeless people who have access to the bathroom may cause problems down the line. These concerns community members have include vandalism, drug use, and theft of property at the church. Because of problems that could occur at the site, IMACA is providing liability insurance that covers theft, vandalism, damage and other losses attributable to the homeless staying at the church.

Additionally, if the Church of the Nazarene decides that the IMACA Safe Parking Program has violated the purpose of the building in the confines of the community, they will be able to terminate the agreement with IMACA. However, if the church decides they want to cancel the arrangement for reasons other than a breach of contract, IMACA will require the church to provide a partial or full reimbursement for any building improvements that benefit the congregation.

Other concerns from Bishop residents include the proximity to the Bishop FFA School Farm, which sits about 100 yards to the Southeast of the church. Some believe the homeless people residing in the parking lot may cause a safety issue for young students.

The parking program may end up being just a test run. Documents from IMACA state the trial period for this program may not exceed one year in time. If deemed successful, the agreement could be extended for a time period acceptable to both the Church of the Nazarene and IMACA.

Funding from this program comes from three sources:

  1. The Homelessness emergency Aid Program (HEAP) in the for of a block grant from the California Business and Consumers Agency.
  2. A grant awarded to IMACA by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
  3. An Emergency Solutions Grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

The organization’s hope is that the program will help homeless people transition into permanent housing, which the community action group says could take approximately two years or less to happen.

IMACA is taking a page out of the New Beginnings Counseling Center in Santa Barbara’s playbook, which has already implemented a Safe Parking Program for the homeless. The program has existed since 2004, and allows for up to 150 parking spaces where people experiencing homelessness can sleep.

Similar programs exist in Seattle, WA, Monterey, CA and San Diego, CA.

According to the University of Southern California’s Homelessness Policy Research Institute, the success of the Safe Parking Programs vary.

“In Monterey, the smallest of all programs studied, 50 out of the 75 program participants have been housed since 2014. The Santa Barbara program has served over 8,800 people since 2004 and cited placing roughly 432 (5%) into housing. In San Diego, 1,725 program participants have obtained housing since 2010, roughly 65%. Seattle cited placing 256 individuals in housing since 2012. Notably, the program was only able to place 40 people into housing in 2016 compared to 119 in 2015.”

For those who wish to file an appeal relating to the issued conditional use permit that will allow 15 people experiencing homelessness to park at the Church of the Nazarene, the deadline to do so is February 5, 2020. If an individual wants to file a protest, one must contact the Clerk of the Board’s Office. The cost is $300 and is non-refundable.

According to the Inyo County Website, “Valid notices of appeal will be forwarded to Inyo County Planning Department staff, who will present the appeal during a public hearing scheduled at the convenience of the Board of the Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors, at the conclusion of the hearing on any appeal filed…may sustain, modify or overrule the action of the planning director or Planning Commission in the matter. The final order of the Board of Supervisors on any such appeal shall be effective forthwith.”

For more information, call the Inyo County Board of Supervisors Office at (760) 878-0373.


What it Means to Move Ahead & Reach for the Stars: Meet IMAH

IMAH’s Sierra Thrift Mall now has a fenced area on our parking lot. This area is for donations that are being made after hours. If you’re donating to IMAH’s Sierra Thrift Mall during regular business hours, please continue dropping your donations off at the back door. BUT – if you’re making donations when the store isn’t open, please put your donations in the fenced area located on our parking lot. This way, if you’re donations are stolen, we can prosecute those who have taken them. For more information cal IMAH’s Sierra Thrift mall at 760-873-8668.

TAGZ !!!!

TAGZ, IMAH’S NEW item store! Tagz stocks only new items with original price tags and is operated by several of IMAH’s awesome adults. Stop by today and see the fantastic array of NEW, never been worn items! Clothing for men, women and children of all ages! That’s TAGZ, Sierra Thrift Mall’s newest addition located at 371 South Warren Street in Bishop. Stop in TAGZ and see what’s NEW!

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"Moving Ahead, Reaching for the Stars".
“Moving Ahead, Reaching for the Stars”

Keep reaching,

#team KIBS & IMAH Stars

IMAH, Inyo-Mono Association for the Handicapped, Non-Profit, Eastern Sierra, Bishop, California, Awareness, Homelessness, Donate, Educate, Serve, Heal