Solution for Downtown SM Problems
December 16, 2021
by John Alle
Santa Monica Property Owner
The following letter was sent to the entire city council, the city manager, and police chief. Chief Batista and City Manager White both replied with thanks to the author. It consists of a short-, medium-, and long-range set of solutions to the crime and vagrancy plaguing Santa Monica's downtown area:
A. SHORT TERM (IMMEDIATE)
Objective: Stabilize safety
1) Remove the requirement to renew the NO SITTING OR LYING IN THE ENTRANCE NOTICE.
2) Deploy pairs of police officers to the 3 blocks of the 3rd Street Promenade, 2nd, 4th and 5th Streets during the day and early evenings.
3) Deploy SMPD Outreach officers and police to patrol the elevators and combined 12 stairwells in the 3rd Street Promenade garages. These areas are where most of the trouble is and remains unseen by officers who drive through the garages.
4) Install see-through gates for all 6 garages that can be closed remotely from 12 midnight to 6 am.This one step will prevent trouble, injuries, fire and camping out inside the parking structures.
5) No parking contract with any parking garage operator should exceed one 3-year period without further review prior to renewal or a new open solicitation of bids.
6) Adjust the days and hours of the Santa Monica Fire Department's new Community Response Unit (CRU) to address behavioral health needs of the homeless from its current daily hours and schedule Monday thru Thursday to start later in the day and to include evenings and weekends, when greater need is required.
7) Adjust work schedules of SMPD Officers to include 12 am to 8 am., during which there is now reduced or no coverage.
8) Reevaluate the + - $475,000 per month Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. spends for its Safety, Maintenance and Hospitality Ambassador Programs.
B. INTERMEDIATE TERM (1 to 2 MONTHS)
1) Establish a 24-hour "navigation center" on City-owned land to give people living on the streets interim and temporary (homeless) shelter and services.
This center can be used as a way to improve the community, not as a place to dump a problem.
One prime interim "test location" would be a portion of the City-owned and under-utilized 2.91 acre former Fisher Lumber property, with a 'ready-to-go' approximate 5,500 square foot secluded building, steps away from the light rail, public transportation, and services.
Since the parks plan was completed, the emergence of urgent safety priorities for Santa Monica justify the temporary reallocation of this resource to enhance the safety of the entire community. Currently, our sidewalks and garages are serving as de facto homeless shelters.
2) The City and SM Police Department currently pay West Coast Care for employing 2-person teams to start at the Beach and try and connect homeless with relatives at home or basic services. Employ officers in uniform to add more credibility to the outreach effort, and security.
3) Have teams from West Coast Care begin their daily outreach from 4th or 5th, Streets, and work their way west to the beach. The team currently starts its day working on the sand, and rarely makes it back east on to city streets.
4) Dedicate and segregate a separate City account specifically for parking revenues to be used solely for preventive maintenance and repairs, so deferred maintenance does not become overwhelming.
C. LONG TERM (3 TO 6 MONTHS)
1) City Manager, Mayor, Police and Fire Chiefs appear together following assaults, catastrophes, robberies and other major crimes, and convey concern or remorse to victims, co-workers and their families. Without this, many residents and business owners feel detached from their city government.
2) Conduct once or twice a year City Town Hall Meetings for residents and business owners to ask questions of the Mayor, Police and Fire Chiefs and City Manager, and for City leaders and residents to discuss the progress or status on homelessness and crime.
3) Mandate police and fire reports be shared with the Mayor and City Councilmembers without delay and, mandate Block-by-Block full incident reports paid for by DTSM Stakeholders be shared by the DTSM CEO with the Police Chief and City Councilmembers.
City Councilmembers had to wait 2 or 3 days to receive any notice of the assault and attempted rape this last July 2nd, that began in Parking Garage 8, and ended with murder an hour later on Colorado Avenue near 2nd Street.