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Homeless students could park overnight on college campus if AB302 passes

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Homeless students could park overnight on college campus if AB302 passes

Scott Mazzarano, 46, a Moorpark College photography student from Thousand Oaks, CA, reflects upon the nights he spent curled up in the back seat of his Jeep Cherokee while sleeping at night in the parking lot of the New Hope Lutheran Church, located at 29295 Agoura Rd, in Agoura Hills.  Mazzarano found himself homeless for two months from January 31st to April 1st, 2019, and slept in his car in the church's parking lot.  Mazzarano said that if AB-302 is adopted into law, being able to sleep in Moorpark's parking structure next to the police station would offer a safer alternative than sleeping out in the open in other parts of the community. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

Scott Mazzarano, 46, a Moorpark College photography student from Thousand Oaks, CA, reflects upon the nights he spent curled up in the back seat of his Jeep Cherokee while sleeping at night in the parking lot of the New Hope Lutheran Church, located at 29295 Agoura Rd, in Agoura Hills. Mazzarano found himself homeless for two months from January 31st to April 1st, 2019, and slept in his car in the church's parking lot. Mazzarano said that if AB-302 is adopted into law, being able to sleep in Moorpark's parking structure next to the police station would offer a safer alternative than sleeping out in the open in other parts of the community. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

Scott Mazzarano, 46, a Moorpark College photography student from Thousand Oaks, CA, reflects upon the nights he spent curled up in the back seat of his Jeep Cherokee while sleeping at night in the parking lot of the New Hope Lutheran Church, located at 29295 Agoura Rd, in Agoura Hills. Mazzarano found himself homeless for two months from January 31st to April 1st, 2019, and slept in his car in the church's parking lot. Mazzarano said that if AB-302 is adopted into law, being able to sleep in Moorpark's parking structure next to the police station would offer a safer alternative than sleeping out in the open in other parts of the community. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

Scott Mazzarano, 46, a Moorpark College photography student from Thousand Oaks, CA, reflects upon the nights he spent curled up in the back seat of his Jeep Cherokee while sleeping at night in the parking lot of the New Hope Lutheran Church, located at 29295 Agoura Rd, in Agoura Hills. Mazzarano found himself homeless for two months from January 31st to April 1st, 2019, and slept in his car in the church's parking lot. Mazzarano said that if AB-302 is adopted into law, being able to sleep in Moorpark's parking structure next to the police station would offer a safer alternative than sleeping out in the open in other parts of the community. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

By Cytlalli Salgado

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California Assembly member Marc Berman introduced Assembly Bill AB302 which addresses the issue of homeless students on California Community College campuses.

AB302 would allow homeless students with cars to park overnight on their respective college’s parking lot. This could prove beneficial to Ventura County Community Colleges District as the county has seen a 28 percent increase in homeless people according to Ventura County Continuum of Care’s 2019 Homeless Census.

AB302 was referred to the Committee of Higher Education, who passed the Assembly Bill by a 10-0 vote. The bill will head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee in mid-May.

Associated Students of Moorpark College (ASMC) has met to discuss how AB302 will help students who live in their car find a safe place to park at the college’s parking structures.

“AB302 allows for homeless students who are enrolled at Moorpark College, have paid their fees, and have a good standing, to secure a safe place to park and sleep overnight,” said Kristen Robinson, Moorpark College student activities specialist. “It has been amended that overnight facilities, security, and restrooms are within proximity of parking.”

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Proposed California State Assembly Bill-302 would require community colleges that have parking facilities on campus to allow overnight access of those facilities to any homeless student for the purpose of sleeping in the student's vehicle. Though Moorpark's police station is not typically manned overnight, being immediately adjacent to the campus parking structure still offers a better option to those students in need. Photo credit: Jace Kessler


Scott Mazzarano, 46, a Moorpark College student underwent hardship in October 2018 after losing his home and job as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor. Mazzarano had no other choice but to live in his Jeep till January of this year.

Mazzarano has lived in Ventura County for over nine years and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice forensics and a master’s degree in criminal justice behavior analysis. Currently, Mazzarano is working towards an associates degree in photography.

During the months where Mazzarano was homeless, he spent most of his time seeking job opportunities, balancing his student responsibilities, and driving back to the church where he would park his car for the night.

Mazzarano would park his Jeep at a local church for the night because he felt fewer people would mess with him there. He felt the safest at the church.

“I slept in a fetal position, my Jeep is small and very uncomfortable to sleep in,” Mazzarano said. “I’m 46 years old. I would wake up with back pain or leg cramps.”

MCSV_AB-302_Kessler_20190411_007.jpg

Scott Mazzarano, 46, a Moorpark College photography student from Thousand Oaks, CA, illustrates how he would curl up in the back seat of his Jeep Cherokee to sleep at night in the parking lot of the New Hope Lutheran Church, located at 29295 Agoura Rd, in Agoura Hills. Mazzarano found himself homeless for two months from January 31st to April 1st, 2019, and slept in his car in the church's parking lot. Mazzarano said that if AB-302 is adopted into law, being able to sleep in Moorpark's parking structure next to the police station would offer a safer alternative than sleeping out in the open in other parts of the community. Photo credit: Jace Kessler


If AB302 were available while Mazzarano was homeless, he expressed how it would’ve changed his fear of being disturbed.

“It would’ve provided me a safe place where I won’t get messed with,” Mazzarano said.

Lieutenant Mike Pallotto, an officer at Ventura and Moorpark College explained that since AB302 is still in the early stages where nothing has been passed yet, there are still a lot of decisions to be made.

“There’s not a lot of information right now. Until it’s passed it will be more certain what facilities will be offered,” Pallotto said.

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With street parking restricted and locally enforced on roads like Condor Drive, in Moopark (pictured), proposed California State Assembly Bill-302 offers homeless students a safer alternative as it would require community colleges that have parking facilities on campus to allow overnight access of those facilities for the purpose of sleeping in the student's vehicle. Photo credit: Jace Kessler


Pallotto also mentioned that Moorpark College is not a 24/7 facility and does not know how AB302 would affect students.

“There are no solid numbers for homeless student statistics since AB302 is in the early stages,” Pallotto said. “We are still trying to find out how many students it will impact.”

With AB302 in mind, campus police’s priority is the safety of students whether homeless or not, faculty, and campus property.

Pallotto mentioned Ventura County has a transient problem, and it’s possible people who aren’t students might want to benefit from AB302.

“We are aware and considering we will have to work with the administration and possibly the city police,” Pallotto said in regards to ensuring students are the ones staying overnight on campus. “We have concerns whether they’re bringing alcohol or drugs.”

Although AB302 is in the early stages, students who are currently homeless can reach out to campus security for guidance.

“We can direct them to resources like the food pantry, counseling, or the health center, who also have connections,” Pallotto said.

If you are in need of resources, reach out to the student health center at (805) 378-1413.

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About the Writer
Cytlalli Salgado, Staff writer
Cytlalli Salgado is a journalism student finishing her last semester at Moorpark College. Her passion for writing and sharing moments with others has her very excited to write about student life on campus this semester.
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