By Bill Hendrickson
The parking lot at the Senior Center in Glassell Park is set to begin “Safe Parking” in April. That is the name given to programs that provide secure, well-lit parking lots for overnight use by people who live in their cars.
The program is on track after staff from the office of Councilmember Gil Cedillo took action to defuse an outcry from seniors who use the Senior Center. It turned out that no one had told the seniors that the lot had been slated for Safe Parking. When they read about it in the March issue of the Boulevard Sentinel, they felt blindsided.
At a meeting with dozens of seniors on March 14, Tony Ricasa, Assistant Chief of Staff for Cedillo, started out by acknowledging the office had made a mistake by not informing the seniors. He said that the safe-parking plan was an example of Cedillo’s career-long effort to “serve the least of our brothers and sisters.”
Jose Rodriquez, Deputy District Director for Cedillo, took questions from the seniors. He said that parking would be made available to seniors when they go on overnight and weekend trips. He assured them that homeless people would have no access to the Senior Center at night. He also said that any pets brought in by the homeless people would have flee collars.
The seniors appreciated the information and seemed willing to let the Safe Parking plan get underway rather than try to block it.
The lot can fit up to 20 cars overnight, but the Safe Parking program in expected to start with less than that and expand to capacity from there.