Eastside Public Safety Meeting Draws a Large Audience

More than 60 people turned out Thursday night for a meeting at the Plummer Park Community Center to discuss with public safety officers and City Hall staffers their concerns about crime on West Hollywood’s Eastside. 

The meeting was organized by the Eastside Neighborhood Watch group and focused on concerns about homelessne in the area and drug use in Plummer Park. 

 “I’m determined that we’re not going to lose our neighborhood to this epidemic,” said Tod Hallman, who heads the Neighborhood Watch group. Hallman noted that he wasn’t criticizing people for being homeless, but for being “bad actors” who harassed or frightened area residents.

In addition to Plummer Park, residents voiced concerns about disturbing behavior by people in buildings near them, one of which Hallman described as a “homeless Airbnb.” Another resident complained about loud partying from an apartment near his home on Greenacre Avenue – something that he said he has complained about to the Sheriff’s Station and the city’s Code Enforcement Division for months. Residents also asked what the city could do to push developers to more quickly demolish empty buildings that they plan to eventually replace so that homeless people don’t live in them.

Lt. William Moulder of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said he hopes that an increased presence of public safety officers will dissuade some people from engaging in illegal drug use or indecent behavior in the park. Some of that behavior has occurred around a single-use restroom where a wall outside has become a gathering place for homeless people and apparent drug users. Helen Collins, the city’s facilities and field services manager, said the city is looking into ways to remove the wall and develop an interim solution to the bathroom issue while it explores a longer-term solution.

Sheriff’s Lt. William Moulder, left, and Sgt. Jon Klaus

In addition to an increased public safety presence in Plummer Park, Moulder said the station is planning some undercover operations. He noted that the station has a Homeless Outreach Services Team a Mental Evaluation Team that includes a specially trained deputy and a mental health clinician that work to get homeless people into care. Corri Planck, who heads the City Hall division that includes homeless services, noted that that can be a difficult task, given that it can take from 20 to 150 individual encounters with a homeless person to convince him or her to accept help.

Kristin Cook, West Hollywood’s Public Safety director, said the city is considering the installation of public safety cameras in the park. She also said the city is considering using space at 7362 Santa Monica Blvd., directly across from Plummer Park and now used by the Block by Block Security Ambassador bicycle team, as an Eastside branch of the Sheriff’s station. That will go before the City Council for discussion in September, she said.

As to the “homeless Airbnb,” Lt. Moulder said that deputies had investigated complaints about suspicious behavior at that building on Poinsettia Drive and arrested two people there, one on charges that included violating parole. While they have been released from prison pending trial, Moulder says they appear to have moved away.

Moulder also noted the limitations that state and federal law and various court rulings place on what law enforcement officers can do to deal with homelessness and apparent crimes involving homeless people. A person cannot be arrested for being homeless, he noted. And, responding to complaints from the man on Greenacre Avenue about loud partying by his neighbors, Moulder and Sgt. Jon Klaus said they have suggested the man seek a restraining order against the neighbors, noting that they can’t arrest them based on a complaint.

Other speakers explained other complications in dealing with issues raised by some residents. Danny Rivas, who heads the city’s Code Compliance Division, spoke to concerns about buildings being left empty for a long period of time before the owner proceeds with plans to demolish them and begin construction of a new building. Sometimes such building have become places where homeless people gather. Rivas noted that a developer has 180 days from the date he obtains a building permit to begin construction on a project and can seek an extension. That gives the owner of the building a substantial amount of time before it must be demolished. City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, who joined Councilmember Lauren Meister in attending the  community meeting, noted that some property owners don’t want to immediately demolish a vacant building because of the negative impact that might have on the value of the property, which they could sell rather than proceeding with a new development. Rivas said the city is looking into options for addressing that issue.

Rivas and Moulder also noted how important it is for a building owner to obtain a “letter of agency,” which is a document that allows a law enforcement office to enter a building to investigate an issue without going through the complex process of obtaining a search warrant, which typically requires more substantial evidence of wrong doing. Klaus said that if there is a letter of agency, deputies can warn a homeless person to leave the property. If he or she if found there a second time, that person can be arrested.

The meeting wrapped up with a visit from representatives of Lowell Café, the cannabis café that will be opening on the northwest corner of La Brea Avenue at Lexington and will provide security services in the area surrounding the café.


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Takeaway From Meeting
Guest
Takeaway From Meeting

Could Tod Hallman please publish his definitive takeaway from this meeting? A lit of specific commitments and related time line would be a great indicator as to how the city intends to implement what was discussed. and what the residents should and should not do to improve the circumstances. No need for a long narrative, just the facts please.

Vigilant
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Vigilant

If these issues are so important, and personally I believe they are, why is there no substantive follow up? The best time to do something is when you think of it. The city has a way of lulling folks into an eternal timeline.

JF1
Guest
JF1

The meeting drew a large crowd because THIS is the #1 issue residents are concerned about. Governments number one job is to protect the people. The council needs to put their primary focus on this! And not just on the eastside! And we need to start pushing a change in the laws that got us to the place where we are now. Being homeless is not a crime. Doing drugs in public, urinating and defecating in public IS a crime! Blocking public access/right of way SHOULD be a crime. More thinking with just not our hearts but with our heads… Read more »

Joshua88
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Joshua88

I read something recently, which I cannot find now, but it was about taxing vacant properties. There is this article, instead: https://reason.com/2019/01/23/san-francisco-wants-to-tax-vacant-shopfr/

Silos in the Kingdom
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Silos in the Kingdom

Perhaps if the homeless were residing on the door step of any of the city personnel present, they would snap to any find a solution pronto. The city positions present should have “task oriented” assignments requiring timely review. Task, implementation, remedy, reward. Well paid careers rewarding management of one’s desk do nothing more than enable folks to avoid responsibility.

Living Safe Elsewhere
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Living Safe Elsewhere

Many City management employees don’t live in West Hollywood, it’s unlikely their doorsteps are in communities like West Hollywood where there’s a homeless crisis. These managers and directors come to collect a paycheck here, but pay taxes for services and amenities living in cleaner and safer communities.

Silos in the KIngdom
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Silos in the KIngdom

Task oriented solutions should still be paramount. These folks, including the City Manager, presumably serve at the pleasure of the City Council. If any of the council members had a homeless individual take up residence on their doorstep or in their yard, they again presumably, would take action. None of the council members have been visible speaking out on this subject. It should be the No. 1 priority. The city budget is available to afford solutions for the residents. A city forum including the council members and supposed knowledgable staff plus law enforcement, televised in council chambers would shine light… Read more »

Monica Siegel
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Monica Siegel

Wow! A city forum on homelessness. That’s an innovative idea. Actually, the city held one a couple of years ago. Guess you were too busy to attend. Sometimes showing up and speaking up makes more of a difference that posting comments on this site. https://www.wehoville.com/2017/11/27/city-councilmember-meister-will-host-forum-on-homelessness-on-thursday/

Silos in the KIngdom
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Silos in the KIngdom

Rather than taking a shot assuming I was “too busy to attend”, please read some of the comments from folks that know what they are talking about. Showing up, speaking and communicating directly with city council and personnel on issues where I believe I can be effective is something I take seriously. Many people post fruitful comments on Wehoville that folks read and don’t necessarily answer. Information + action can come from anywhere.

Monica Siegel
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Monica Siegel

So you did attend the forum on homelessness? Then why argue that the city should have one if in fact in did have one? I’m confused.

Silos in the KIngdom
Guest
Silos in the KIngdom

Monica, being confrontational is not particularly helpful in this conversation or in problem solving. I looked up the link you included which concerned a meeting I was unaware of having been out of town and out of the loop for an extended period of time. Lauren Meister is applauded for scheduling it requires wide, immediate attention. Some of the comments addressed valid points. This needs to be a city wide forum with a sense of immediacy including city council members, staff and residents in an open setting, not relegated to an agenda item somewhere in the future where incremental ideas… Read more »

Silos in the KIngdom
Guest
Silos in the KIngdom

The comments referred to were on the link to 2017 meeting initiate by Councilmember Meister. The same concerns…….more meetings not translated into significant action.

JF1
Guest
JF1

The laws need to be changed. Until then, there is not much that can be done to the drug addicts, alcoholics and mental ill whose bodies are scattered in squalor around all the west coast cities.

JF1
Guest
JF1

The laws need to be changed. Their hands are tied because the courts have tied them.

Unacceptable
Guest
Unacceptable

Many times illegal activity by an individual is prefixed with “homeless”. This automatic and initially unknown characterization by law enforcement and residents is irrelevant when unlawful activity is taking place and many times stands in the way of effective policing.

The neighborhood watch leader should not have needed to express clarification when insisting to not “lose our neighborhood to this epidemic”……He meant crime, by anybody, nothing else.

The Truth Teller
Guest
The Truth Teller

SES social economic bullying = answer west of Fairfax vs Plummer park. Board members: Russians JFS versus LGBTQ Across from Design Center- West Hollywood 27 Million in renovations, security buzzed in bathrooms at pool, posted physically “ 2 – 6’3 intimidating“park & Recreation contracted security officers. When Sheriff is called they arrive within 5 minutes on foot 2 cars driving on grass through park. Plummer Park east of Fairfax = SES We are now t allowed to harass people in n restrooms. I had a flat tire. I witnessed a women dealing drugs out of one restroom for 3 hours.… Read more »