I talked to a city council apologist the other day. I was told we have tried to limit our homeless population for four decades without success. You know the old story about doing the same thing over and over...
We can’t solve the problem of homelessness on our own but we also cannot continue to be a beacon for homelessness and now, for homeless tourism. Your city council keeps repeating the same failed policies, and failing over and over again. We must dramatically reduce homelessness with fresh ideas! Here is a partial bucket list:
1. Close Santa Monica beach from 12 Midnight to 5:00 AM. Ours is the only major beach in Santa Monica Bay that allows people to remain on it all night. That will reduce the incentive for homeless humans to congregate in our city. Two police beach units and a help team should be assigned to patrol the beaches overnight. There are frequent sexual assaults on our boardwalk and beaches. These will be quelled by the beach closure and the active police and help team patrols.
2. The Chief of Police has said that if we close the beaches then the homeless will sleep on the Pier. We can remove the Pier from access as a public street and lock it up after the bars close. This would provide more safety for the businesses on the Pier and would free police for other duties.
3. Move the Samoshell homeless shelter away from 5th and Olympic. Having a homeless provider next to the Expo Line terminus in the middle of Santa Monica's downtown encourages homeless to gather in that area. While we need to assist the least fortunate within our community, we must not continue to be the repository for those in need from throughout the greater region.
4. There are a few "problem" food & liquor stores in Santa Monica. One of those is the 7-11 at 630 Wilshire Blvd. Amend their CUP so that they can no longer sell "single serve" alcohol. This will reduce crime and diminish criminal activity in Reed Park and on Wilshire Blvd.
5. Work with charitable providers to stop the feeding of our homeless humans in Reed Park. Charities and churches must provide their charitable meals inside the Salvation Army and other welfare facilities that have staff trained to help. Giving people good food at a table where they can obtain needed service is beneficial. Giving them McDonald’s on the ground in a park does not help those in need.
6. We must be Intense advocates for veterans in need. There is hundreds of available acreage at the Veterans Administration. The VA has constantly failed at taking care of our nation's warriors in need. After years of advocacy, still only a few veterans are being temporarily housed on the VA grounds. All vets in need should be housed, even temporarily, on that giant VA property. Step Up on Second and the Elks have teamed up to help house formerly homeless vets (a little over 50) but that's all. That is insane. Every SM city council member must be pushing for the VA to do their job. NO veteran should ever be left on the streets of Santa Monica.
7. LA County has help teams that can be summoned to assist people struggling with homelessness. Cities in the South Bay uses these teams but Santa Monica doesn't? We give millions each year to the People Concern with nebulous results. Let's try a different approach. The region has the problem. Let the region help correct it.
8. Enforce the laws on the books, each and every day. While we are a compassionate group of residents, even compassion has its limits.
9. During the pandemic we have been closing our park bathrooms early each night. The homeless on our streets need bathrooms. There are self cleaning restrooms available to cities that should be installed in strategic points around Santa Monica. Sanitizing stations, soap and water must be available to all those in need during the pandemic.
10. Expand mental health services. It’s cheaper and more efficient to have professionals deal with street issues than SMPD officers. We need our outstanding police officers to do what they do best, reducing crime and making our city safe again. They were not hired to be surrogates for social workers. Our men and women in navy blue are here to ensure our safety and security. Let them focus on their core job of protecting us.
11. Reinstate park rangers or uniformed equivalents in our city parks. Problem parks need a uniformed presence to help our residents feel secure again.
12. Patrol our streets, alleys, markets etc to reduce the incidents of crime in our city perpetrated by bad players.
That’s a start.