A recent employer survey revealed that approximately 25% of Mono County employees live in their cars. However, with a new public works ordinance put in place, these folks will no longer be allowed to park in county parks parking lots.
Public Works Director Tony Dublino presented this revision to the county code to camping at the Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, July 6.
“It’s an item that’s grown out of issues and complaints we’ve seen throughout the county over the last couple of years,” Dublino said.
Dublino elaborated on the issue: Mono County has been seeing people camping in the parking lots of their county parks – i.e. rolling up to the parks in the late afternoon/evening, and then sleeping in their vehicles overnight.
He viewed this as being inconsistent with not only road safety, but also with “community character.”
His propoal: enact an ordinance to prohibit overnight parking in all county parks parking lots, from 10 pm to 6 am.
In the past, this ordinance included just a handful of county parks facilities – now, it includes all county parks facilities.
The need to accommodate un-housed community members was quickly brought up.
“A lot of people are camping in parking lots because that’s where they live,” said supervisor Jennifer Kreitz, “And unfortunately, it’s because we are in a housing crisis right now, as we know.”
The need for a “safe and secure” parking location for un-housed community members was brought up – an issue which Inyo County has given lip service, but has not acted upon.
“We need a place where it’s safe, you know? I think about the people who park in Walmart parking lots because they know it’s a safe place, it’s acceptable. Where is our safe place? I don’t know if we’ve identified that yet” said Krietz.
Kreitz turned to an employer survey recently administered, which revealed that roughly 25% of Mono County employees live in their cars: “it’s significant, the amount of people that support our economy that live in their cars,” she said.
Supervisor Gardner entered the conversation by saying that he agrees that the county should look for an alternative, safe space for people to park and live, but “we should draw a line somewhere … we do need to look for some way to accommodate those who are living in their cars and have no choice, but I’m struggling with county parks being that.”
He went on to say that the majority of concerns and complaints he has received have been particularly at county parks with playgrounds, “where there are children at play and people pulling up, and the anxiety being created, quite honestly, about the campers that are there and the children playing at the playground, and the mixing there.”
Supervisor Rhonda Duggan was also in favor of the ordinance, stating that, “these parks are day-use only. We all had a vision of what we thought that use was – not something for several hours of parking, of basically living at that spot at that time.”
Mono County Counsel Stacey Simon chimed in to say that the ordinance prohibits parking in county parks, but excludes something like the courthouse parking lot or Civic Center parking lot, or other county-owned parking lots.
However, Kreitz pointed out that the parks are appealing to un-housed residents because they have bathrooms. There are no bathrooms at other county parking lots, such as the Civic Center.
“We just keep squeezing people. It’s what we keep doing with housing. We keep tightening things and not finding solutions first,” said Kreitz.
“It is an equity issue. It’s an equity issue in many cases in both directions, looking out for residents as well as visitors,” said Bob Gardner.
Supervisor Stacy Corless made the suggestion to change the wording of the ordinance, allowing for county parks property to potentially serve as safe places to park in the future. These changes were accepted.
However, as of now, parking overnight at county parks will be prohibited.
The motion for the ordinance passed, with 4 supervisors in favor and Kreitz opposed.
In other news, the Board of Supervisors passed the motion to increase their own salaries, which was introduced during the June 15th meeting, following an increase to the salaries of the county’s some odd 40 at-will employees.
The proposed salary increases:
Board of Supervisors Chairperson: $53,544 to $62,424.
Supervisors: $49,308 to $57,504.
The motion was passed with 3 yes’s and 2 no’s (Gardner, Corless).