Eastside Residents Voice Concerns About Illegal Drug Use in Plummer Park

Syringe found on the pavement at Plummer Park

Residents of West Hollywood’s Eastside are turning up the volume on complaints about drug use and drug paraphernalia found in Plummer Park.

Brian Rubenstein, a local resident who walks his dogs in the park, recently shared with neighbors and several City Council members images of apparent drug users and of drugs and a needle and syringe apparently used to inject illegal drugs.

“I just took the dogs for a quick five minute walk through the park and found a syringe and needle on the ground right behind the Great Hall summer camp,” Rubenstein said in an email message today to City Council members Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister and Mayor John D’Amico and to some of his neighbors. 

“It’s not like I’m out there looking for this crap, it’s just that prevalent,” Rubenstein wrote. “Anyway, considering there are kids at risk, I think it’s important that you all know. Additionally, I would suggest that the counselors and parents be notified of the environment they are placing their kids in so that they can make an educated decision if they want to continue to do so.”

On Wednesday, Rubenstein said he found a bag that apparently contained the drug methamphetamine. “This morning around 8 a.m. as I took my dogs out for their walk, I found this bag of crystal meth right out in the open in the middle of the lawn where everyone in the neighborhood takes their dogs to play.

“More alarmingly, it lay a mere 50 feet from the children’s summer camp in Great Hall, and in the exact area that the kids play soccer and other games. There was quite a bit of it, more than enough to kill a dog or inquisitive child … I do not understand for the life of me why we continue to lay down and surrender our neighborhood to a clique of drug-addicted career criminals who walk around, heads held high, confident that the park belongs to them, that they are above the law and that they have the inherent right to loot our neighborhood with complete impunity.”

Rubenstein also cited incidents where regulars at the park would steal items and hide some of them behind a chain link fence covered with greenery,  which he called a “tailor-made hiding spot to chop up stolen bikes, swap stolen loot and get high in broad daylight without a care in the world.”

Bag of what may be methamphetamine in Plummer Park

Capt. Edward Ramirez of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and City Hall employees responded quickly to the issues that Rubenstein raised and he praised them for doing so.

“We will make a concerted effort for more patrol checks throughout the day and evening as well,” Ramirez said in response to Rubenstein’s complaint.  Kristin Cook, who heads the city’s Public Safety Department, said the Public Safety Commission will review a Plummer Park safety plan at its July 8 meeting. Cook said the city has added two security guards that are starting on July 1 (one of whom will focus on the park) and that additional Sheriff Station patrols of the area began this Spring. 

Steve Campbell, the city’s director of Facilities and Recreation Services Department, in a response to questions from WEHOville, outlined steps that are being taken by his department, the Public Safety Department, the Sheriff’s Station, the Block by Block security ambassadors and security guards from PacWest Security Services, a city contractor:

— City staff and/or contract staff have been trained in the disposal of syringes, drug paraphernalia and related types of items and sharps containers are available throughout city facilities;

— City staff and/or contract staff conduct daily morning sweeps and afternoon sweeps of the park to police for litter and other items such as biohazard materials and drug paraphernalia;

— Park staff walks the park as part of hourly rounds and they are on the lookout for items that may be hazardous to park visitors;

— Recreation Services Division staff that overseeing programs in the park walk the areas to check for items that may be hazardous to program participants; and

— City staff and/or contract staff conduct daily inspections and checks of the playground equipment and playground surfacing.

Soiled bathroom in Plummer Park

Rubenstein’s aren’t the first complaints about apparent vagrants and drug users in the park. Stephanie Harker and Cathy Blaivas, who live near the park, also have expressed concerns. Harker has shared photographs of badly littered restrooms in Plummer Park and of an apparent vagrant inside the parking area of a nearby apartment building.

Rubenstein said that law enforcement officers have told him that their options are limited because of the changes made by Proposition 47, a measure passed in a statewide referendum in November 2014. Prop 47 reclassified certain theft and drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors in response to an effort to reduce overcrowding in California prisons.

While some law enforcement officers cite Prop 47 in saying that they can’t arrest people who possess illegal drugs, in fact, they can. To make a misdemeanor arrest, an officer must get a warrant or have probable cause to believe he witnessed the crime taking place in his presence. Drug possession is an offense that, by definition, is committed in the officer’s presence. So, if an officer comes across an illegal drug while conducting a legitimate search, or asks and gets permission to search, or sees the illegal drug in plain view, he can arrest the suspect. That suspect can be put in a local jail and can be released if he posts bail. If convicted, the suspect can be sentenced to up to 364 days in county jail and be fined up to $1,000. 

Former LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell in the past had argued against Prop 47, saying that there wasn’t enough room to house those convicted of misdemeanors in L.A. County jails. If convicted of felonies, the Sheriff’s Department would be able to move them to state prisons. Some officers have said they prefer to file citations, the equivalent of a traffic ticket, rather than make an arrest because of the extra work that entails.


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FB1
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FB1

It’s all over our city! When are we gong to start to get tough on these quality of life issues? Our leaders are so concerned about being sensitive and afraid to appear to offend anyone. Start offending the drug users! Clean up our parks, our streets, our bus stops our library from these drugged out individuals! We’re turning into a third world country and our leaders are sitting by and letting it happen. Downtown LA – what a disgrace. We have rules and laws for a reason. It keeps certain people in our society from destroying everything that others work… Read more »

Rex Tillerson to the Rescue
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Rex Tillerson to the Rescue

City leaders and law enforcement, marching in place, collecting their salaries and complaining about how hard it is to take responsibility for the job they were hired to do. After reading the transcript of Rex Tillerson’s testimony before congressional foreign affairs committee and understanding the boondoggle he was on his way to eliminating in order to create an efficient and effective state department, surely he could wrap up solutions to West Hollywood’s moronic issues in 30-60 days.

Bill
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Bill

Amen. It’s long overdue.

Awesome Weho
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Awesome Weho

A deputy once told me they don’t pursue any drug dealing or drug use here because our lovely city council doesn’t want them to criminalize meth. The cops are lazy AF about everything else, but I actually believe that one. Has no one here ever heard of the broken window theory? Sorry to inform you, but when you don’t address the small things, the big things are not far behind. Of course car break-ins happen about twice a day, every day. Those guys know our cops are not looking for them AT ALL. We can be socially liberal without being… Read more »

Bill
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Bill

I’ve long suspected part of the problem is the city tacitly approves of meth use with a wink and a nod, can’t interrupt the 24/7 party after all – bad for business. And if true, it would certainly explain at least in part why Ed Buck is still walking around a free man.

Watching Moss Grow
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Watching Moss Grow

Please just read the list of steps voiced by Steve Campbell, Director of Facilities & Recreation. It is tantamount to standing by and watching moss grow while picking up acorns. WE NEED PREVENTION NOT A WINK & NOD PROGRAM! Please send the City Council Members out there at least once or twice a week to do these tasks. It’s called PUBLIC SERVICE and see how quickly they come up with a real prevention effort. By the way, the city council just approved a sizable budget increase of $45,000 to not exceed $135,000 with Jewish Family Services for the front desk… Read more »

Very Concerned Citizen
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Very Concerned Citizen

These issues have been going on and on and on for years. The response from Mr. Campbell and Ms. Cook are always the same. The city is doing this, the sheriff’s are doing that, the security guards are blah blah blah. It is time for actions above and beyond the usual. The bathrooms near the tennis court are atrocious, filthy, and constantly being used for shooting up and who knows what. Perhaps if Mr. Campbell or Ms. Cook needed to use those facilities on a daily basis, things changes might be expedited. We the citizens have asked for years for… Read more »

Larry Block
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Larry Block

Set up an eastside sheriff depot in plummer park. Period. Lets get it done. A visible sheriff depot with cars and officers will act as a deterrent and also be in a position to respond quickly to east sider needs.

James Francis
Guest
James Francis

I have made complaints and made staff aware of disorderly and agressive behavior! Over the last 8 years I have been getting comments hurled at me by the homeless and eratic people with mental health and drug issues who are loitering around and being loud and obnoxious and participating in lewd behavior and harassing and making comments to those of us who are forced to pass by them. I have to walk around the park onto the street level just to go to city and community offices. Plummer Park has 2 security personnel that are contracted with a private security… Read more »

Lock Our Doors
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Lock Our Doors

As far as the rest rooms are concerned, is it possible to lock them with access limited to a code that is changed daily which can be obtained from the receptionist upon proof of residency via license, at Plummer Park Community Building? Beyond that, the city could contemplate fencing Plummer Park in a similar manner, allowing access to residents via ID. I know that sounds extreme but clearly a possibility to keep invasive individuals away from children, residents and the facilities in general. While certainly not for armed compounds, we lock our doors don’t we? If you are a resident,… Read more »

Randy
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Randy

City facilities are not just meant for residents. Especially with the complicated border, and City of LA being just a couple blocks above and below this park.

I do like the idea of controlling who can use the restrooms, however, if they can come up with something.

Josh Kurpies
Guest
Josh Kurpies

Thank you WeHoville staff for taking the effort to present the additional info about Prop 47.
Most media outlets have become so lazy in their reporting and would have reported “law enforcement officers have told him that their options are limited because of the changes made by Proposition 47, a measure passed in a statewide referendum in November 2014” and simply ended there without any challenge or questioning of such a premise.

Manny
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Manny

While the ability to arrest under Prop 47 is possible, the criteria and the clunkiness of the required scenario does nothing, nada, to address what the residents are faced with.

Another example of how governing by Proposition has failed California.

Glenn
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Glenn

When I use Plummer Park, I can never find an available bathroom. They are always being used by vagrants or street walkers. They change in them. They use drugs in them. They feed pets in them. And there are usually a few outside ready to harass anyone who needs to use the facility for the purposes intended.

Eric Jon Schmidt
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Eric Jon Schmidt

Public Safety should be the number one priority of the City. The budget should have allocated more money for Hiring more Sheriff’s Deputies and building a substation on the east side. More Police presence would dissuade illegal activities. If City employees are in fact making hourly rounds in Plummer park there should be a system so that they can verify it at checkpoint stations. Quality of life issues should be the second priority. Residents should be able to feel safe and enjoy public parks which are maintained and monitored properly. If the City can afford that new pool on the… Read more »

mike m
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mike m

Eric I agree . There should be a police substation on the Eastside . People should be able to use the park without harassment or finding drug paraphernalia everywhere.

Duran must go
Guest
Duran must go

For the first time, ever, I agree with you Eric. The sheriff department policy of waiting to respond to incidents must be re-evaluated to actually requiring them to police our community. We are in DIRE need of a visible sheriff presence. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have been cursed out when I am trying to put recycling in my bin and I interrupt the recycling theft! My point is that the homeless that are simply trying to survive should not be punished, but there are certainly more aggressive homeless drug addicts that need help and… Read more »

mike m
Guest
mike m

The East side of Weho should not be neglected…. Drug addiction needs to be addressed. I’ve never seen it this bad .