Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

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By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

"Crime is the number one problem in Santa Monica," says Candidate for City Council Armen Melkonians

"We are spending money on a homeless industry with no result. Everyone should be fired, and made to reapply," he says.

 

September 26, 2022

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Armen Melkonians and supporter Kate Bransfield.

Why do you want to be on the Santa Monica City Council, I asked candidate Armen Melkonians. He said crime and homelessness were out of control problems. The City spends a lot of money on these problems, with no progress.

"Our community has gotten crazy out of hand, in terms of crime cleanliness and quietly of life and we need to turn that around.

"Homelessness has been a problem in our city for a long time, it's gotten a lot scarier with the increased drug use and the prolonged condition of the homeless on the street. There's been more homeless and its gotten worse

The longer people stay on the streets, the more affected they become. The increase in aggressiveness has gotten worse, as it was during the last wave in the 1980s. We're seeing that back again now.

I think it's not Santa Monicas problem to solve we need to work more with the County. We provide a lot of money with no result. We need to fire everyone in the homeless services industry," says Melkonians, "and have them reapply. Then we need to monitor what why're going to do with the money and hold them to some metrics."

"Last year we gave out $15.5 million according to an independent auditor, Moss Adams. What did we get for it? How many homeless people did we house? The answer is: 6 got temporary housing and 8 were permanently housed."

Melkonians said it wasn't clear whether the total was 14 or 8.

"But the best case scenario is we helped 14 people for $15.5 million. We spent another $35,000 in emergency services on each of Santa Monica's 800 homeless persons, says auditor Moss Adams. If you were to take the time Sanitation/Public Safety etc spent on each person, it was $35,000 each,"he says.

"Plus $18,00 in cash on each homeless person spent on homeless services. Plus they get private donations. OPCC for example has an $80,000,000 operating budget. Half of that goes to salaries. People need to make a living, but it becomes an industry. We don't want to get to the point where it is in San Francisco, where's they're just throwing money at the problem with no results," Melkonians said.

"We need to look at Santa Monica as a transfer facility, not an end result. Where homeless people find permanent housing, maybe not in SM but somewhere," he says. "We control the purse strings as a council, that's what we can do."

"Crime is actually the number one issue, which doesn't necessarily involve the homeless. Everyone in SM has been affected by crime, Melkonians says. "My mother in law was assaulted on the street. One car was stolen from in front of my apartment."

"People try to open the front door of my apartment. This happens at least once a month, I hear someone playing with the door. Garages are getting broken into all the time. Mail is getting stolen, the videos are all over the place."

"One of my supporters said he can't have a meet and greet for me because his home just got broken into, and he don't trust anyone anymore."

"We're now the 6th most unsafe city in America according to FBI statistics."

"The chief of police (Ramon Bautista) has been trying, but he said there were 22,000 incidents over 6 weeks. We have just 100,000 residents! That's one in four over six weeks having an incident, as a metric. This is insane! We should have a much safer city than that," Melkonians said.

"We need to increase our police presence. We have to get out and recruit more. We have 221 positions with around 171 officers, so we have a shortage," he said.

"221 police officers isn't enough, it's been the level for 20 years. We've gotten the metro since then, it's become a larger draw for 20 years. We haven't increased our levels in 20 years. The criminal world is aware of this," he said. "Crime is the number one problem in Santa Monica."

"My catalytic converter has been stolen, my car's been stolen, my 20 year old neighbors catalytic has been stolen. From the same 150 frontage of street on the North part of town. This is too much! It's on everyone's mind, it's real. We sometimes hear from people who don't live here "You're gaslighting." It's not true, we aren't there's no getting around the problem."

What's the solution to the crime problem? "Patrol and visibility," he said.

SM Democratic Club interviews Armen Melkonians

"We should have a policy that no call is too small in Santa Monica. Over time this makes the Police more visible, gets them out and into the neighborhoods."

"I worked in Beverly Hills, I see about ten cops during a Half hour lunch. I see private security too. We have to get OUR Police out there, where they can be visible and respond quickly.

Melkonians notes that he has been endorsed by the Santa Monica Police Officers Association (SMPOA) and by the Santa Monica Fire Dept.

Melkonians, 51, is a civil and environmental engineer who has run his own small business since 1998. "I moved here 12 years ago, my wife went to Samohi," he says. He resides with his wife and 4 year old in Wilmont, where he is a neighborhood organization board member.

his website is http://www.votearmen.com

 
 

Reader Comments(1)

PeterD writes:

Good interview, except homelessness and crime are connected. Latest homeless count of about 800 is less than 1% of Santa Monica population, yet SMPD estimated homeless are 40% of arrests.

 
 
 

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