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Homeless Man Responds To Neighbors' Concerns in Grover Beach

GROVER BEACH, Calif. - A meeting in Grover Beach last night allowed frustrated neighbors to voice their concerns about homelessness at Ramona Garden Park. Many feel the park is no longer safe, but one homeless man counters, saying there's nothing to worry about.

"They basically stay out of anyone's way," says Nicky Swain, a local homeless man. "I don't see people out here in the grass conflicting with anybody else or causing any problems."

Swain has been coming to Ramona Garden Park during the day for a while now. He says fellow homeless that gather at the park are mostly harmless.

"Majority of the people here, I would say at least 95 percent, are law abiding people," says Swain. "They just want to have a place to lay down."

A place to lay down, and grab a bite to eat. South County People's Kitchen passes out free meals every day at noon. Some neighbors speculate that has been causing the high number of transients to gather at the park. It's been unsettling to neighbors who complain of trash, noise, and fighting that goes on at the park.
But People's Kitchen president Betsy Ehrler says the majority of people she serves aren't the ones causing problems.

With no permanent place to pass out their meals, the People's Kitchen chose Ramona Garden Park as a temporary spot because of its centralized location in Grover Beach.
"It is a public park, and because of the bus system, because it's close to the beach, this is where a lot of the people hang out," says Ehrler. "So we came to them rather than ask them to come to us."

Betsy feels there is a misunderstanding among neighbors of what her organization does at the park.

"I keep on saying come on down, get to meet the people and you'll realize they are a bunch of sweet people with only a couple of problems," says Ehrler.

The South County People's Kitchen has been searching for months for a permanent spot. They'll continue looking but will remain at the park until something comes up.

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