Overnight parking ban for C Street to start in April

03/13/2019

The overnight parking ban on Point Reyes Station’s C Street will go into effect in early April, following its approval by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The rule will apply to all vehicles between Third and Sixth Streets from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Organizations such as the Point Reyes Station Village Association and the Dance Palace Community Center supported the ban, citing environmental impacts and security risks from people sleeping in vehicles on the road, which borders the town and the Giacomini Wetlands. Others in the community argued that the ban was both unnecessary and an expression of intolerance for the homeless. A permit for the ordinance—which the village association first proposed in 2016 as a nearly town-wide ban—was approved by the Deputy Zoning Administrator in January. Residents had had eight business days to appeal, but Julian Kaelon, a spokesman for the Department of Public Works, said none were filed. In a letter to the county this winter, Bonnie Guttman, executive director of the Dance Palace, and Lourdes Romo, executive director of Papermill Creek Children’s Corner, voiced concerns about the safety of staff and children in the area and expenses occurred by overnight visitors using their water, electrical and garbage facilities. According to Jim Hickey, the West Marin station commander for the county sheriff’s office, C Street has the greatest number of people spending the night inside vehicles of all the town’s streets. “With just three of us on duty at once most days, the right to move people along does help us,” he said. For Ken Levin, a member of the village association, the ban offered a solution to what he believes is a crime problem. “Nobody in town has a problem with people living in their vehicles, per se,” he said. “It’s people shitting in the street, dealing drugs, stealing animals, defacing vehicles, propositioning children, threatening people. These things are very real problems, and the people dealing with them had to find a way to try to solve them.” Longtime West Marin resident Elizabeth Whitney was a leading voice of opposition to the ban and brought her concerns to West Marin Standing Together. In a letter to the Light, a member of the group, Judy Spelman, wrote that she had never felt unsafe in the C Street area. Though she acknowledged that disturbances could occur, “I agree with Elizabeth that it is not a pervasive problem,” Ms. Spelman wrote. “I feel disheartened to see people here trying to push sleepers out of their neighborhood. Instead, how about having a community meeting to discuss a more humane, generous and practical response.” At a meeting on Tuesday, West Marin Standing Together discussed what steps they could take to open a discussion on the issue—unaware that supervisors had voted that morning to move forward with the restrictions. A 2017 enabling ordinance that allows the county to tailor parking restrictions street-by-street opened the door for the C Street ban, which Mr. Kaelon said will go into effect after signage is installed in about 30 days.