Council Members Must Denounce Notion City Wants More Homeless

April 22, 2022

Dear Editor,

For anyone wondering if certain City Council members willingly attract more homeless people to our City, note Sue Himmelrich’s recent radio comments.

The Mayor stated she’d “happily house” homeless who migrate here, and that attracting more homeless is “a risk that I personally am willing to take." No word on whether she cares if residents and local business owners aren’t waving pom-poms to support her “personally” cheerleading the risks to the rest of us.

There also was no mention of whether an additional influx of homeless would join those “housed” in locations like Chess Park, Reed Park, Tongva Park, DTSM parking structures, on the Promenade and City sidewalks -- or whether importing more homeless would require demolishing additional downtown parking structures and/or pushing for more developments like the Lincoln/Ocean Park/Gelson’s monstrosity, which Santa Monicans vocally oppose.

All this, despite the abject failure of Santa Monica’s long-running homeless strategy, as thoroughly documented in a scathing recent analysis ("Santa Monica Needs Radical Shift in Homeless Policies," April 21, 2022).

Note, too, the City’s Strategy Pillar #3 for “addressing” homelessness: “Maintain equitable access to safe, fun, and healthy open spaces . . . ensure that our public spaces continue to be safe, clean, and enjoyable for all.” Does that happen soon, or is it yet more evidence of failure?

Imagine our “public spaces” if surrounding communities begin shutting down encampments and those individuals drift to Santa Monica. The most recent published homeless counts show that even one-tenth of LA County’s homeless coming here would increase Santa Monica’s homeless population almost seven-fold.

And let’s be clear: any influx of more homeless is not harmless, either to public safety or public finances.

As a careful reading of Strategy Pillar #3 exposes, homeless drifters spawn crime. According to local reporting and SMPD data, arrests of homeless perpetrators over the past year in Santa Monica cover a gamut of crimes.

They include arson, attempted murder, assault to commit rape, strong-arm robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, hate crime, carjacking, assault, battery, sexual battery, elder abuse, commercial and residential burglary, defrauding an innkeeper, shoplifting, battery on a police officer, public intoxication, urinating in public, defecating in public, public nudity, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a concealed dirk/dagger, brandishing, resisting arrest, trespassing and vandalism.

All this during a time when our police department is historically understaffed ("Santa Monica Police Force Faces Record Shortage of Officers," April 19, 2022).

Meanwhile, the City acknowledges it does not even know how much it spends “addressing” local homelessness, though there is no doubt the total far exceeds the multiple millions the City admits it spends ("Santa Monica Spends Some $5 Million in Homeless Outreach," January 20, 2022).

What can anyone do about this? I suggest the following.

Council members: Steadfastly denounce the reckless notion that Santa Monica wants more homeless individuals to come here. Target our assistance to those who became homeless while living or working in Santa Monica, not to everyone who traverses the City boundary. Create a transparent budget that prioritizes first responders and public safety.

Voters: Unseat Himmelrich and her incumbent allies in the upcoming election. Demand action and accountability from all elected officials.

Residents and business owners: Press the City Council for immediate reform. Spread the word to friends and neighbors.

Media: Continue to investigate and report.

Sincerely,

Peter DiChellis - Unaffiliated moderate
Santa Monica - 90403


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