Santa Barbara- S County

Golf Cart Patrol on Santa Barbara's Eastside Makes a Positive Safety Impact

Business owners help with purchase for Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter

Golf Cart Patrol on Santa Barbara's Eastside

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A new golf cart patrol has begun around the Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter on the Santa Barbara Eastside.

The cart was purchased by the Milpas Community Association and business leaders say they have seen a significant difference with fewer people hanging out under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The shelter's security is led by Eddie Parraguirre who is a former Police explorer from Santa Maria. He had been patrolling on foot.  With the cart he can expand his coverage, and deal with more problem people on the streets.

He also takes time to get out, and talk with those who are creating issues, to move them along, and give them a chance to resolve the problem without a police officer.  Sometimes he has to call for a patrol unit, but mostly he says, he handles the issues with his verbal warnings. Many of those on the streets near the shelter, he knows by name.

The shelter says, those who stay at their facility have to agree to a "Good Neighbor Policy" or they will not be allowed back in for food, beds or services.  "Anybody who has a bed here or on a program here has to sign a document that says they will not loiter break the law in the neighborhood or harass any of the local businesses, so it's mainly a way to deter them from doing that if they want to use our services," said Operations Manager Kathleen Wilson.

Parraguirre says he doesn't go at his job with a heavy hand, but he's ready to deal with those who don't want to follow the rules or are breaking the law.

"So I decided to have a relationship with them, become friends with them,  and figure out who they are and how to control them. Every person is different," said Parraguirre.

On a patrol drive to a dumpster area behind a local business he turned the cart to an area that's not easily seen from the street.  "Back here that's where they usually hang out, they're no longer here. Usually they are drinking here in the morning. So you have to come by here in the morning and catch them," said Parraguirre.

It's been a welcomed change on Milpas Street and surrounding areas.
"And anybody we can have with eyes on them, making sure they are being great citizens in the community is fantastic," said Alan Bleeker with the Milpas Community Association.  He says a handful of business owners decided quickly to fund the cart, and bought the first used one in good condition they could find.

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