|The Lookout Letter to the editor|
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October 27, 2021
The City Council must stop doubling down on failed solutions and take serious action to solve Santa Monica's homelessness crisis.
Earlier this month, the crisis made national headlines when a reality TV star was one of three victims attacked by a homeless woman in the city. She was stabbed and beaten. Another victim was beaten with metal pipes. Fortunately, their injuries were minimal compared to what could have happened. But other victims haven't been so lucky.
Now, the Recreation and Parks Commissioners has voted to close down Chess Park citing "five years of unsavory behavior and issues around homelessness."
Commission Vice Chair LaGuardia said the park has seen stabbings, serious injuries, and active prostitution. One 13 year old girl won't go back after having her life threatened by someone in the park. Nearby apartment buildings have also suffered, facing trespassing and burglary.
There's hope that the park can be repurposed for a new use. However, if the root cause behind the park's decline isn't addressed, it's just as likely a new public space will suffer the same fate.
These are far from the only people and city areas that have been negatively impacted by crime and vandalism as a result of the city's out-of-control homeless problem. But this should be the last straw.
Our most recent Santa Monica Pulse Poll shows that 90 percent of residents see the latest violent attacks as a catalyst for city officials to reconsider the current approach to addressing this problem.
Increased police patrols in the downtown area and beach, especially at night, along with clearing out homeless encampments were among the top approaches residents thought the city should take. Other residents wrote in suggestions including "constant guarding of parking structures" and hiring more police officers.
The new Police Chief in town could help set the city on a better path, but one thing is certain. If the City Council doesn't take serious action -- and soon -- nothing will change.
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