Public Safety Commission and Businesses Push Sheriff to Increase Westside Patrols

Micky’s, 8857 Santa Monica Blvd.

The Public Safety Commission and owners and managers of local businesses last night pushed the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to step up its patrols of the city’s nightlife and entertainment district on the west side of Santa Monica Boulevard.

Their concerns were mostly about aggressive behavior by homeless people. Adam Eraminan, general of Micky’s, the popular gay bar at 8857 Santa Monica Blvd., said “the homeless population has gotten out of control.”

Eraminan said Micky’s has been the victim of several lawsuits filed by customers because of harm to them caused by homeless people while they were at the bar. In one case, a homeless person threw a customer’s drink at him, cutting the customer’s face. Like many other bars on Santa Monica Boulevard, Micky’s has an open façade facing the sidewalk and outdoor seating, making it relatively easy for someone on the sidewalk to interact with a customer.

Bill Karpiak, general manager of the Ramada Plaza hotel at 8585 Santa Monica Blvd., where he has worked for almost 30 years, said he has seen the impact of aggressive homeless people on nearby restaurants and other businesses that the Ramada’s guests visit. Referring to the nearby Starbucks coffee shop, Karpiak said “It’s sad to see where it’s going, from its pinnacle to its decline.”

“It’s very intimidating for our international customers,” said Karpiak. “… We try to tell them how great West Hollywood is, until they arrive and they are asked for drugs and money (by homeless people).”

Larry Block, owner of the Block Party store at 8853 Santa Monica Blvd., called out each of the calls to the Sheriff’s Station in the past year from him or one of his employees. They included complaints about a woman smashing his front store window, a person coming into the store swinging a golf club and threatening a staffer, and someone wielding a knife.

Block also criticized the Public Safety Commission for what he said was its lack of action on the homeless issue.  Block said the Commission should ask the City Council for permission to form an ad hoc committee to work with the city’s Human Services Commission to study issues involving the homeless. “The commission isn’t looking deep into the issues,” he said. “If some of you have not walked down the street where the biggest problems in the community are, maybe you should resign.”

Starbucks on Santa Monica Boulevard at Westmount

Marcus Rainford, the Starbucks district manager who oversees the coffee shop chain’s West Hollywood locations, said that he was concerned about the slow response of Sheriff’s deputies to calls from the Starbucks at 8595 Santa Monica Blvd. at Westmount. “I personally am in Glendale, and I get there faster than the Sheriff’s deputies,” he said.

Amanda Laflen, the chair of the Public Safety Commission and the new manager of that Starbucks, said she has shared with Sheriff’s Sgt. Jon Klaus issues about people dealing drugs behind the Ramada Plaza and homeless people apparently camping out in the parking garage on Hancock Avenue at Santa Monica Boulevard, which is near Gym Sportsbar, Five Guys Pizza, and Tender Greens restaurant.

Laflen said she would like to see more foot patrols by Sheriff’s deputies on the westside of Santa Monica Boulevard. “I think we actually need to see people to feel safe,” she said.

Lt. William Moulder of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said he and Capt. Edward Ramirez are focusing more on the Westside entertainment district. He said the Sheriff’s Station is adding patrols in the area and has assigned its entertainment policing team to patrol Santa Monica Boulevard from Robertson Boulevard on the west to the club and bar area on the issue. Moulder said they also are thinking about adding foot patrols during the daytime, given that some of the issues raised by business owners occur during the day. Moulder said Sheriff’s deputies have seen an uptick in violent behavior by homeless people.

The commissioners acknowledged that there are limits on what the Sheriff’s Station can do, given that people who appear to be mentally ill or abusing drugs can’t just be locked up. The Sheriff’s Station has a mental evaluation team staffed by a deputy and a mental health clinician that can respond to issues involving those thought to be mentally ill if summoned by a deputy on the scene or a member of the city’s Block by Block Security Ambassador bicycle team. Adam Eraminan of Micky’s cited those limitations in describing an incident last Friday in which a homeless person threatened one of the bar’s security guards. He had an arrest record and was arrested, but was released and soon back in front of Micky’s.

The Ramada Plaza West Hollywood Hotel & Suites

Commissioner Jeffrey Waack suggested the Sheriff’s Station resume the regular walks with the Sheriff’s Station captain and Public Safety Commission members to local businesses, where they would drop in and here the business owners’ concerns.

Commissioner Kerri Balbone said that another issue is that some business owners and their employees don’t know who to call about issues involving the homeless. She cited concerns raised by employees of the Crossroads Trading store and nearby Joey’s Diner and Hamburger Mary’s bar and restaurant, who have to deal with homeless people tossing trash on the sidewalk and soiling their space.

Public Safety Director Kristin Cook said the City of West Hollywood’s Communications Department is developing a guide that will be mailed to local residents that includes information on who to reach out to about issues involving the homeless.

The commissioners acknowledged the success of the Sheriff’s Stations effort to clean up littering, drug use and other misbehavior by homeless people in and around Plummer Park on the Eastside. That was the result of the Sheriff’s Station increasing its patrols of the park and nearby areas.

West Hollywood in February saw a major decline in serious (Part 1) crimes compared to the same month last year. A report from the Sheriff’s Station shows reports of vehicle burglaries fell from 70 in February 2019 to 34 last month, and incidents of petty theft (theft of items worth $950 or less) fell from 70 in February 2019 to 48 last month. Grand theft incidents, involving items worth more than $950, fell from 32 in February 2019 to 26 last month. However, last month there were 191 misdemeanor arrests, up from 122 in February 2019. Felony arrests increased from 42 in February 2019 to 69 last month.

  1. Governor Gavin Newsom of California made a stunning admission about how he could have dealt with his state’s massive and growing homeless problem a long time ago.

    During a Q & A session with reporters regarding the state’s response to the outbreak, Newsom noted that people 65 and older should stay home while, naturally, he was ordering bars, wineries, and breweries to be closed.

    “We’re working in real-time to secure hotels, motels, and trailers to house our homeless safely
    and protect our communities and the spread of #COVIDー19,” he tweeted.

    During his Sunday news presser, Newsom was then asked what would happen if the people in homeless encampments did not want to be put in a motel or hotel and if he would consider forcing them to go

    His response: “All of these things are hypotheticals and we’ll meet the moment. And we have the capacity to encourage people off the streets. We have existing rules and regulations.”

    Oh, really? Well then, Gov. Newsom, why haven’t you been using them to clean up your cities and streets? Why have you allowed residents of your state to endure the stench, the filth, the rise in crime, the Calcutta-like conditions, and the return of Medieval diseases?

    Just in December, Newsom was blaming the federal government — President Donald Trump, really — for his state’s homeless problem, after the president threatened to take care of the problem for him if he didn’t.

    Did you get that … “We have existing rules and regulations.”

  2. Do the blue hairs of weho realize Starbucks coffee four times a day is a luxury not a necessity?! Seems the older generations who constantly complain about the homeless may need to do some self reflection on their very apparent caffeine addiction. You live in a very large city, of course homeless people are going to be present.

    Stop living in the past of when you bought your condos 30 years ago and obtained two mortgages for your two bedroom condos.

    If you don’t like it, I’m sure silver lake has plenty of cheap condos you can buy and heavily mortgage for another thirty years.

    1. What does this have to do with the issue, Rob s? We’re dealing with a group of people who are often dangerous, who vandalize, verbally assault, urinate and defecate publicly and create filth which attracts rodents, fleas and other species we don’t want to live around.

      You seem to harbor resentment for those people who enjoy and can afford four visits to Starbuck’s a day. What’s that to you? They earned it if they worked hard, planned wisely, and bought their condo 30 years ago. At some point they delayed gratification to have the privilege they enjoy now. In other words, they have lived responsibly. Why is that a problem for you?

      Please explain.

        1. I bought my condo a year ago and have never been in a Starbuck’s, but I’ll pass on your sentiment to those to whom it may apply. I’m sure it will mean a lot to them.

  3. How does BH keep their city safe? Active policing. I always eat out in BH…..but almost never in WH. We would also improve our city…..if the bars on SMB were closed (it attracts the wrong element).

    1. Yep we don’t eat in West Hollywood anymore either we go to Beverly Hills. Clean & safe. West Hollywood has become a real dump.

  4. I walk past city hall and see the same homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk and think to myself “ doesn’t anyone at city hall see that she needs help”. I read an article on wehoville about her being beaten. If you don’t recognize the homeless as individual people how are you going to help them. Start with the homeless that are living at your doorstep. Find out what her story is and help her It may be the key to helping others.

  5. The homeless lobbyist (yes, they have them. Attend a city council meeting) while flood the comments section on articles like this and try to paint themselves as victims and everyone else as an elite, all to pretend we don’t have a huge homelessness crisis that has impacted the quality of life of all citizens. I’m hardly an elite, I work two jobs, have a roommate, live in an apartment and I’ve been assaulted by a homeless person last year in Weho. The problem is real and something needs to be done. Enough is enough and I’m so thankful this site covers this issue and allows open dialogue about it.

  6. Public Safety Director Kristen Cook, is developing a guide to mail out to the public on how to deal with these issues. Perhaps she could send the multitude of these “printed guides” for self delivery to her silo at City Hall. Ms. Cook, with all due respect, you are not getting the message but resorting to poking at a long standing problem with long sticks. Ditto the Sheriff Deputies that show up long after reports of a naked possibly homeless man, encountered in the laundry room of a secure building. They appeared disinterested, wanted know my date of birth. and whistled off into the night.

    Within a week, the man who was found in the laundry room washing clothes in the sink and drying his jeans in the dryer with my sheets, was found dead in his car on Laurel Avenue. He was apparently a well known Playgirl Magazine type possible newly minted meth addict. Wehoville published a story with a picture. A year later, a similar situation occurred with one sleeping in the laundry room. Equally disinterested was the owner of the building.

    Suggestions by a reasonably alert neighboring building owner said, geez, I would want you as a witness and suggested I share the information with the Public Safety Commission. Why I asked, would one share information with a powerless group of chair occupiers? The answer, every man for himself. Be alert and be smart about your travels in and beyond one’s own building. The least the Public Safety Commission could do as a start would be to organize teams of sidewalk washers and participate in the activity themselves, along with city staff. Soap and water, it’s the cheapest thing going.

    1. very few city employees actually live in west hollywood (including the ones at the top who make $300,000-$400,000), so they have no real interest in actually walking where residents have to walk and deal with the horrors that residents have to. they take their paycheck and go back to suburbia.

  7. When I read comments like these on this website, I think I must not being living in the same West Hollywood that these people are (maybe they’re referring to the one in Florida?).

    I walk down Santa Monica Boulevard from La Cienega to Robertson daily. Yes, I see homeless people on the sidewalk there, and all over LA. But I understand why. We are a NIMBY city that doesn’t want to build more housing, so that’s no surprise. We also are a city of affluent elites who don’t want to see poor people (unless they are cleaning our homes or trimming our lawns.)But what I don’t see is human feces, vomit, filthy sidewalks and all the other stuff you guys see. (And I actually look at the sidewalk cause I’m not one of those self-obsessed guys who has to be on his cellphone when he’s walking.)

    I go to the Starbucks on SMB at Westmount several times a week and have been surrounded by great people, many of whom have become friends and business associates. I’ve even met some homeless people sipping their coffee and reading newspapers or books. And yes, occasionally there’s an eccentric one, but no more often than those gay guys you see at Micky’s getting drunk and rowdy or one of those NIMBYs at a city council meeting shouting out against building more housing or explaining why it’s healthy to make room for more air-polluting cars.

    (By the way, now the new Starbucks manager has cut off most of the electrical outlets. I guess to chase the homeless away from charging their cellphones. So me and my screenwriter friends are looking for other places to sit and work and sip coffee and enjoy our community. Miss Melbourne is my new home away from home.)

    I’m anticipating a new novel called “Tale of Two Cities,” that focuses on what the NIMBY elite see and what the rest of us see in West Hollywood. It might be as popular as the one that Charles Dickens wrote way back when. Maybe Vanderpump could spin it into a reality TV show! WeHo the progressive city vs. WeHo the elite.

      1. Dr Arthur Benjamin is my eye doctor. He might be able to help you, however he doesn’t do psychotherapy

    1. Geez, I am surprised you left out commonsense! If you can’t afford to live here that generally means you can’t afford to live here. A lot of people would like to live in Bel Air, but don’t roam the streets and camp out there.
      Elites, NIMBY, affluent…trigger words to place blame instead of where it belongs…the HOMELESS! I heard San Francisco has an opening.

    2. Earl Eason, I don’t know where to begin! Haven’t you seen the group at the Sal G. Park and the fountain where they bathe and do laundry; the several on Olive by Emser Tile and Stampede where there is often human feces, and the one guy who urinates at the curb facing the street; the three or four regulars around CVS and the bus stop lying in their own filth?

      Affordable housing is not the answer. These people are mentally ill and wouldn’t live in whatever home you might give them. Let’s go back to Gov. Pat Brown’s last term in office and undo the laws that release the mentally ill onto the streets (yes, the laws that new Gov. Reagan had to sign).

      1. Reagan didn’t have to sign anything. Stop spreading lies about what happened. The REPUBLICAN governor started this crisis.

        1. Reagan did have to sign it, Weho Adjacent. It was the law as enacted at the end of the previous administration, there was a large Democrat majority in the Assembly, judges had supported it and the ACLU had done its public relations job. Reagan had no choice.

          Now, if you know something different, let’s hear it. You’re giving me your opinion and nothing else. That’s not enough.

          1. You really need to do a couple of Google searches to learn how the federal government works. A president (Ronald Reagan) is not required to sign a bill passed by Congress. The president can veto it. Congress can, of course, override the president’s veto. But Reagan never was required to sign that bill. He did it because he wanted to, just as he wanted to (and did) shut down the federal Community Health Centers program, which is what was keeping the mentally ill off the streets at one point in our history. With the closing of the centers over the year, the problem has grown. (Thanks GOP).

          2. We’re talking about GOVERNOR Reagan here, Earl Eason. Or at least I am!

            Salon is about the most anti-Republican publication you can find, and you can find LOTS of anti-Reagan material on Google. Just keep looking and you’ll find how Gov. Pat Brown’s administration required the release of the mentally ill as a civil right and that he later expressed regret for it.

    3. Are you homeless yourself sir and typing this from a public library? With all due respect, you must be. I’ve physically been assaulted right outside the Starbucks on Santa Monica Blvd twice in the past year by homeless people and the staff there told me it happens all the time. To argue otherwise is flat out lying.

      1. I was assaulted by a mentally ill woman in front of this Starbucks 1.5 years ago. She ran at me, grabbed me by the neck and punched me in the head. I did file I police report. I see her on the street frequently, always acting crazy.

  8. The Public Safety Commission is more interested in photo ops with Sherriffs and amplifying the hysterics of NIMBY neighborhood watch groups than anything else. They propose more patrols, more money to the department, more visible presence as the solution to everything. These are complex problems and unfortunately for the tough on crime crowd, human rights of the unhoused population always take presedence over the inconvenienxe to businesses or the “embarrassment” to residents having to see homeless people. The only thing I agree with Larry Block about is some of the Commission SHOULD resign.

    1. It’s not an inconvenience to have a filthy city –it’s a crime. People who work and pay taxes demand that the city keep our streets safe and clean! It’s the city’s most important responsibility and duty. They are failing. The human rights of the drug addicts and mentally ill are not any more important than the safety and the cleanliness of the city for the rest of the humans that live here!

    2. @”William Seegmiller”…….It’s embarrassing that society now allows individuals to live in squalor, on the street and eating out of the garbage. YES, that should embarrass everyone.

      1. In reply to both, the conditions many people live in are inhumane, and a sense of urgency is appropriate. I’d like to see the Commission enlist the services of mobile programs for showers and offer laundry credits, for a start. The Sherrifs Dept in a WeHo can already offer referral to case management and mental health services without requiring arrest. Of course, public health providers like myself understand the challenge of getting people in crisis to voluntarily enter programs. But let’s expand on dignified approaches that meet people where they are at and reduce immediate harms, and NOT increase policing of nuisance crimes or criminalize being homeless. WeHo can do better!

        1. Folks like yourself are always on the side of the unlawful citizen. You don’t care how tax paying citizens who work hard to pay their bills & contribute to society are impacted by homeless people screaming at them, cursing while we walk children from stores, assaulting and threatening people, turning our city into a garbage can. No, you always side with the person committing the crimes. Well, guess what? No longer will we be silenced. Enough is enough.

        2. When we had increased policing and it was considered unacceptable to lay sprawled out on the sidewalk in a pile of filth we didn’t have the problems we have now. We have allowed this behavior to become “acceptable” and there is no reason for people to seek out treatment. They know they can do whatever they want and they will continue to do so. People that work hard and pay taxes are fed up! We are the ones paying for all these agencies and services and meanwhile the problem gets worse. You can’t enable these people to live on the street and expect things to change. We must change the laws so that local governments can place these people into facilities to get the help they so desperately need. To leave it up to them to decide whether they need help or not is ridiculous as they’re not in their right mind. We’ve done it your way now for years and your way has failed And has even made the problem worse. Time for a change of thought on how to handle this problem. We have compassion but we have no more patience.

  9. BTW, there’s a heavy concentration of homeless on the stretch of S.M. Blvd. between La Cienega & Pavilion’s. Not so, east of La Cienega or West of Pavilions. There’s some great attraction specifically in that area. Not so on the same stretches on Sunset, Melrose, Beverly, etc. just there. And no so at all in Beverly Hills. Just our neighborhood only!

    1. Haven’t you seen the group at the Sal G. Park and the fountain where they bathe and do laundry; the several on Olive by Emser Tile and Stampede where there is often human feces, and the one guy who urinates at the curb facing the street; the three or four regulars around CVS and the bus stop lying in their own filth?

  10. West Hollywood needs to establish its own police department with leadership and officers who are accountable to the residents of West Hollywood.
    I’ve called the Sherrif’s Department twice over the course of the past year to report both erratic behavior of a homeless person as well as to report someone who was laying face down across the sidewalk in front of my home only to be told they were extremely busy and would send a patrol car when one was available. This is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE!

  11. FOOT PATROLS along SANTA MONICA Blvd in the evenings and on weekends! A Sheriff’s booth or kiosk ON the Blvd would be great – remove some of the parklets the have been installed and install Sheriff’s booths. Commissioner Laflen is right, “I think we actually need to see people to feel safe.” The Sheriff’s presence ON the Blvd. will curtail some of this unlawful behavior. And we need to advocate for CHANGING THE LAWS so the people actually breaking them don’t get turned right back on the street. That’s not a solution to the problem.

  12. Seeing more foot patrols by sheriff’s deputies on the streets is key. I walk the stretch between la Cienega & Pavilion’s a lot & there simply is no law enforcement presence – ever. The homeless situation gets more & more out of control & people don’t feel safe on the sidewalks any more. The streets have human excrement, vomit & discarded food splattered all over the sidewalks & stay there for days if not more. There’s a situation on the SW corner of La Cienega & Holloway where a homeless man actually “lives” on a bus stop bench. He does his “business” right there on the sidewalk, has been for months, & the stench is so bad as you approach that you have to plug your nose as you walk by. This & other sidewalks should be cleaned up! If the city isn’t going to take at least some degree of responsibility for the homeless problem, they should at least clean up the messes they leave on the streets. The Starbucks patio on S.M. & Westmont is at times a virtual homeless encampment. Some mornings it’s so bad that the tourists coming from the “Chamberlain” & the “Ramada” won’t sit outside, but simply leave. I know, I’ve seen & heard it happen many, many times. Not the best way to enhance West Hollywood’s image. Star Bucks management does absolutely nothing to help alleviate the problems, only ignores them, no matter what. Sometimes they smoke on the patio & it’s so thick that it’s not tolerable to sit there. (Another unenforced city ordinance.) I know that even mentioning these problems are probably futile as they have been around for so long & so little done that they’ve become practically innate in our culture. Too bad.

    1. I agree, the city needs to do MORE! It’s getting so bad out there. The laws need to be changed so that the people with mental illness and substance abuse issues can be placed into a facility (voluntary or involuntary-they are not in their right mind) where they can get the care they so desperately need. And more money need to be allocated to the building of these facilities.

    2. YES to all of this. the guy at the bus stop needs to be taken somewhere obviously and a damn pressure washer needs to be used with sanitizing detergent. it’s like this everywhere. seems like a year ago there was a lot of discussion here about the fact that the city can’t even get the sidewalks properly cleaned.

  13. I’m sorry I was not able to attend this meeting. This is an issue that needs to be taken seriously by businesses, city staff and the Sheriff. I no longer take out of town guests to the Blvd for a casual walk, dinner or an afternoon cup of coffee because it is embarrassing for me and for our city.

    1. I no longer take visiting family and friends for a stroll on the Blvd. either. If I think it’s disgusting and feel unsafe and can’t image what they would think…they’re not used to it like those of us that live here and have become numb to it to some degree. I take them into Beverly Hills…sidewalks are clean, no addicts or mentally ill wondering the streets, you feel safe…life how it used to be.

      1. I had friends in from Sedona last week – same reactions as I showed them the clubs and restaurants with filthy sidewalks, encampments in closed businesses, getting away from disturbed people yelling and punching doors and trees and patio furnishings. Take a look at the patio northeast corner of SMB and San Vicente – a broken down wreck at the center of our downtown.

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