Officials Knew Unsafe Conditions at Parking Garages
Overnight addicts and predators leave behind waste, pools of urine, vomit, uneaten food, needles, syringes and lighters
July 15, 2021
by Alyssa Erdley
News with Attitude
For 19 months prior to last week’s rape attempt, carjacking, and violent assault in Santa Monica's Parking Structure 8, property owner John Alle had been sounding the alarm to public officials and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. about unsafe conditions in the parking garages that line the Third Street Promenade. In emails to Kathleen Rawson, CEO of DTSM, to the city council, and to Henry Servin, Traffic and Parking Manager for the City of Santa Monica during this time period, Alle begged for help in solving a multitude of building maintenance and security issues.
According to Alle, who walks the alleys and parking garages frequently, individuals have been camping out in the garages, either in their cars or using the dumpster rooms, elevators, and stairwells as bedrooms. "The overnight addicts and predators leave behind their feces, pools of urine, vomit, uneaten food, needles, syringes and lighters," says Alle. One night, the 3rd level of Garage 3 was taken over for a rave party. Those camping in the structure have started multiple fires in the dumpsters.
It does not help that entire floors of the garages are missing lights, and exit signs are missing or broken. Gang graffiti is spreading in the stairwells. Elevators aren't working. To top matters off, the pay turnstile in Garage 3 is broken, creating a long line of cars attempting to exit.
Alle says that not only did none of his concerns get addressed over the past year, but matters have gotten worse. In a June 14 email to Servin, Alle wrote, "The number of people setting up tents, bedding and sleeping bags, and taking over the garages has increased since I began documenting all this 19 months ago." With unfortunate prescience, Alle added, "We have a safety and security issue that is placing our citizens at risk."
Alle had asked Mayor Sue Himmelrich to walk the garages and alleys with him to see for herself the state of the city-run garages. She declined to do so. Himmelrich also declined to answer our request to explain why she did not respond to the warnings of unsafe conditions.
Henry Servin, the manager of the parking garages, also declined to state why he has not addressed the many maintenance and safety issues in the garages.
Kevin Herrera, Senior Marketing and Communication Manager for DTSM, told us, "DTSM, Inc. is not responsible for the management of the parking structures." DTSM ambassadors are in fact responsible for cleaning certain areas of the garages. Also, as an agency funded by taxpayers and downtown property owners, DTSM should be doing everything in its power to see that no part of the downtown becomes a haven for drug-addled criminals, thus reducing business profits and putting residents at risk.
Alle says "The only persons who have reached out and tried hard have been Police Chief Seabrooks, Lieutenant Rudy Flores and Lieutenant Robert D'Andrea." However, "their hands are tied due to restrictions and pressure placed on them by our City."
In a segment on Fox 11 News regarding the conditions at the garages, only Santa Monica Councilmember Phil Brock was willing to discuss the problems created for residents by our growing homeless, and often mentally unstable, population. He later added to us that the garages, the "front door" to our city "must be clean, sanitary, and safe and no, it cannot be used as housing for our homeless population." To do so "points to systemic neglect on the part of our city officials."
But the rest of our city officials, both elected and employed, have been completely silent.