Rats and Vagrants on the Promenade

Dumpster fire set off no alarms in downtown parking structure; it was lucky someone was there to report it and no one was injured

Editor’s note: We received the following letter by Third Street Promenade property owner John Alle to City Manager Lane Dilg regarding unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the once-popular outdoor shopping area in downtown Santa Monica. Edits have been made for space considerations:

Dear Lane,

I have been arriving at my property on the Promenade for the last several days during early morning hours to supervise interior cleaning and maintenance. This last Friday and Saturday this is what I observed.

A fire was started on Saturday by people smoking and sleeping IN the dumpsters and behind them. Someone could have died. The frustrating part of this is that I've sent you, Kathleen Rawson, Steven Welliver and Rob Rader photos and warnings on a frequent basis that this could happen, and now it has.

Friday morning:

1) Rats and mice in the dinosaur topiaries in the center planter area of the middle 1300 block.

2) Food, garbage (even with almost all the restaurants closed), human feces on the cement in the dumpster rooms on the floor walls and in the garage of Structures 3, 5, and 6. Structure 6 was the worst, with one person in his own bodily fluid hidden behind a blue dumpster, two others wrapped in blankets behind a green dumpster, and another person sleeping inside a green dumpster.

3) Lit candles and cigarettes on or next to the dumpsters, food packages, cardboard and garbage.

4) Dumpster room of Structure 4 was taken over by lots of people asleep on cardboard and directly on cement slab next to broken liquor bottles, glass, mashed food and urine that could all be smelled 30 feet away.

5) Toward the end of the alleyway in the 1300 block, a heavy dumpster was left in the center, blocking cars. This could have been a planned 'set-up' for a robbery or car-jacking.

6) In front of Structure 3 there were heavy, broken bags of garbage dragged into and left in the center of the alleyway. The walls had been used as a toilet.

Saturday morning:

1) All the dumpster rooms in every Parking Structure facing the pedestrian alleyways were full of people sleeping, having sex, urinating and defecating, all oblivious to my walking by. Some looked sick, were coughing, and during the day will be mixing with and walking by people who live and work in Santa Monica who are required to wear masks and stay at least six feet apart during this contagious pandemic.

2) The smoke and small blaze were from the dumpster that someone pushed OUTSIDE the dumpster room of Structure 5, near Broadway. The smoke rose to the top of the parking structure, and the wind blew it west 50 feet. Not one single smoke alarm went off in the City garage.

All this threat to life and potential damage to property can be avoided if you and the City get more involved and find the right people to manage DTSM (Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.). The Stakeholders are very upset. They are not heard or represented at the monthly DTSM Board Meetings.

PLEASE have the dumpster rooms locked at night, and lock or block off entrances to the six parking structures adjacent to the Promenade, that also face 2nd and 4th Streets.

Some of the Ambassadors have told me that because of Covid or cost-cutting, they are leaving at 10 pm. But "management" is a 24-7 responsibility. The problems with safety and cleanliness (rats, filthy dumpster rooms, and now a fire,) usually occur during the late evening and early morning hours.

I have notified you many times, in your role of Interim City Manager and Member of the Executive Board of DTSM, about the threat of a fire, and sent you, Kathleen Rawson, Steven Welliver and Rob Rader photos of the dumpster rooms with people asleep right next to candles, garbage, and lit cigarettes. I presented obvious and easy solutions to Kathleen and Steven, then copied you, on behalf of all the Stakeholders I have met and spoken to.

A fire occurred. We are all fortunate nobody was injured or died as a result.

John Alle

EJA Associates, L.P.


Reader Comments(1)

Clarionnudge writes:

The letter that was sent to The Culver City Observer by a business owner on the Promemade needs to be paid attention to. Our beautiful city cannot afford to have this unsanitary disruption 24/7. Those of us who have invested our money and our lives to live in Santa Monica deserve better. It is incumbent that the City Manager, the Mayor and the City Council take immediate measures to move the homeless population out of the center of SM. We need to feel safe. I implore you to take action