LUBBOCK, Texas – Open Door, a local organization aimed to assist Lubbock’s homeless, has been denied a permit to a construct a parking lot on their property near 13th Street.
Chad Wheeler, Executive Director of Open Door, said the organization began planning to construct a parking lot in the early fall. Wheeler said the parking lot would keep cars off the street and to make it easier for members and volunteers to access the campus.
“First Baptist Church, First Christian Church and businesses all up and down 13th Street just south of Broadway have parking,” said Wheeler.
Lubbock’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) sent out notices to Open Door’s immediate neighbors in the South Overton area. Wheeler said initially, they received very little negative feedback on the project.
However, at Thursday’s ZBA meeting, Open Door said nearly 50 people attended the meeting to protest the construction. Wheeler said the individuals were there to “stop anything positive from happening.”
ZBA members voted against the permit’s approval 4 to 1.
“Those who voted against this on the board were ultimately convinced by our opponents and persuaded by people who have influence and power,” said Wheeler. “The issue was not about parking but about homelessness as a big issue.”
Wheeler adds that protesting the parking lot isn’t the solution.
“If we as a community really want to solve this issue and improve neighborhoods, the only way to do it is to put our heads together to figure people out of homelessness and into housing”
Below is a statement from the group of residents protesting Open Door’s request for a permit:
“It’s admirable what Open Door is doing, but we are concerned about safety. The homeless that are placed into housing are not the issue, but the homeless activity around our homes is increasing. South Overton is a historic district and we’d like to keep it exactly that, historic.”