Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Tear Up The Tracks: Santa Monica's Crime Train

It is a veritable pipeline of filth, bringing human wreckage from Skid Row directly to the heart of downtown Santa Monica and her beloved Pier

For quite some time---maybe, even, years---I've been working out in my head a piece dealing with a curse that arrived in Santa Monica at 9:49 AM on May 20, 2016. At that moment---cheered on by people who had had a hand in its gestation and birth, including (now convicted felon) Mark Ridley-Thomas, the now conveniently exiled hapless Eric Garcetti, and last but not least, the now blessedly-disappeared Pam O'Connor, Sheila Kuehl, and Kevin McKeown---the first train from downtown L.A. pulled into the end-of-the-line downtown Santa Monica station, breaking through a ceremonial paper tape. Or should I more correctly say, it arrived at the much ballyhooed, hyped "Colorado Esplanade", a cheesy area of lights strung over the street from ridiculous oversized yellow metal poles, that light shining down on a stupid yellow and black striped sidewalk that seven years later is now predictably stained, ugly and....cheesy.

Moving forward what turned out to be a sad seven years, my cool-of-the-evening downtown walk this evening provided me with that much needed get-the-article-written energy. I became instantly energized as I watched a drugged, zombie, wild animal of a filthy human, his ample male organ fully exposed, weaving threateningly at bystanders including tourists, then proceeded to wash his hair in the drinking fountain. I tightened my grip on the box cutter I now carry with me at all times when in our downright dangerous downtown. This madness transpired as I stood next to the non-functioning wreckage of the no-doubt very, very expensive solar trash compactors bought years ago, now just eyesores that symbolize Santa Monica's steep decline, and the stupidity of her "leaders" past and present.

Santa Monica has seen its fair share of days that will "live in infamy" as Franklin Roosevelt so famously said. There was the Jan. 17, 1994 Northridge quake; the nightmarish July 16, 2003, when an 86 year old man drove his car through the downtown Farmers Market, killing 10 and injuring 63. I still shudder at the memory of seeing a shrouded body still stuck under a car at 2nd and Arizona. Add May 31, 2020 to this list--the day the downtown was sacked and looted by thugs emboldened by the George Floyd incident.

It is only out of respect for the victims of that Farmers Market tragedy that I won't put May 20, 2016 at the very top of the list of Santa Monica Days of Infamy. But I will place it directly under that event, in infamy importance. On that day, a veritable pipeline of filth opened, bringing human wreckage from Skid Row directly to the heart of downtown Santa Monica and her beloved Pier. In the interest of "equity", etc. etc., the fathers of this train didn't even choose to see to it that its users would have to "Tap" (don't you love that cute, cool word ; "tap"). No, they wouldn't have to even pay to use the line, if they didn't want to/couldn't afford to, as it would operate on an honor system with no fare enforcement/penalties for fare avoidance.

Seven years later, the poison this train has brought to poor Santa Monica is on daily display for all to see. The feeling of the city, its very atmosphere, changed dramatically that day, perhaps, forever. It went from being a still-pleasant beachside city, perhaps, not exactly charming upscale Laguna, yet still, pleasant, and relatively safe---to a prime destination for vagrants, druggies, criminals. A destination cool in the summer, mild in the winter, where drug use and anti-social behavior is tolerated and even encouraged by city government (needle exchange, "ambassadors" in place of real cops, etc. etc.). A place of opportunity; the Cloverfield Ralphs, and the now-demolished Vons on Broadway targeted by aggressive, even violent shoplifter criminals, often multiple times per day.

Santa Monica's so-called "leaders"---people like council members Gleam Davis, Jesse Zwick, Caroline Torosis-Halitosis, city manager David White---are if nothing else, virtue-signalers. When the soles of their feet hit the floor in the morning, they are already thinking about what sort of social engineering message they can send that day to a city, county, state, national, even international, audience. Their nightmare is anti-virtue signaling. Like being the first municipality in the country, if not the world, to tear up the tracks, REMOVE a light rail line that has been built in recent years. Which is exactly what I propose be done without delay. I'm totally serious. TEAR UP THE TRACKS. Tear them up at the bridge where they leave Los Angeles and enter Santa Monica. That bridge can be blocked with a big lighted "X" such as is used in aviation to indicate that a runway is closed. Or, that bridge can be totally removed. Just, one way or another, let that train end at the city line. Please.

The absence of that nasty train will be barely noticed, as ridership is low, even off the charts low. But you'll never hear that from its proponents. Just trust your eyes. As it blocks intersections, causing hours of car idling (climate change emissions!!!) as the clanging starts and the gates go down, the train is usually see-through, even at rush hours. Like an aquarium devoid of fish. Those who genuinely need to travel from downtown to Santa Monica and vice-versa still have plenty of other ways to get there. Something called buses, The Big Blue Bus, which worked well enough for decades, and which don't take much more time than the train, if any, to make the trip. But for some reason, buses are less attractive to the drugged criminal vagrant set than the choo-choo.

Santa Monica will reap dramatic, immediate, visible benefits from the removal of this train---this horrible curse upon our city. The virtue signalers won't be happy. But who cares about them. They'll be gone sooner or later, anyway, as time inexorably marches on, and one by one they disappear from the stage, as local pols tend to do. We should care only about returning Santa Monica to its former status as a fun, beautiful, safe, even hip destination for local, national, and international tourists. Removal of that blasted train will be a very important step towards recovery from the nightmare of the last seven years.

One more thing. When the very last train pulls out of Santa Monica's downtown, ensure that Davis, Zwick, Torosis, and White are on it, the loading process overseen, yea, supervised, by police chief Ramon Batista. SMPD personnel will likely be happy to see to it that the perps are properly outfitted for their trip to jail, in orange jumpsuits with matching Crocs, hands cuffed, attached to waist chains, along with clanking ankle chains. The second car will be filled with a number of other figures, past and present, who also need to be railroaded out of town. They should be dressed in black and white stripes with black Crocs. I will name these individuals in an upcoming contribution to the Observer.


Reader Comments(5)

7742 writes:

It people got tickets for not paying on bus or train that would help. Last week I saw two shop lifters ,the manager replied there is nothing We can do the state decriminalized shop lifters. Two days later I told two sheriff about it they replied, even if arrested ,there is no bail and they would be back out on the street doing the same thing. This is very disturbing.

Amen writes:

Oh man ..this is my dream alot these days that that da.. train goes away along with the pain its bought to this once sleepy beautiful town. Great piece of my heart right here that I read.i think so many of us feel this way..

jean writes:

The words chosen to describe people is harsh. Granted the train has issues and this was foreseen before but money must have been the factor. Interesting, I once had a suggestion to bring Ross down to the promenade area and was flatly told we don't want those kind of stores because of element it would bring. Now we have TJMaxx go figure. But that person was all for the train, guess they never took public transportation. The reason for train issues is the same reason for everything else that is wrong here: the people that run it. You can have the train just POLICE IT. The promenade would not be in shambles had the powers that be paid attention to what happened at the Grove and PREPARED for the same thing here during that protest. All they had to do was call the national guard to protect the mall and the promenade. The protesters could have still protested. Give the police the right to PROTECT not have a chill beach job.

SadSantaMonica writes:

Mr. Berg. I concur, and couldn't have said it all better myself. Don't forget to add to the list of affected, Santa Monica residents who have been killed or injured by walking or riding their bikes onto the tracks--tracks that have NO GUARD RAILS. Just more of the same idiocy from our quote leaders. TearUpTheTracks

Amandla1 writes:

Mr. Berg curiously forgot this nugget from Zev's own biography, Mr. Yaroslavsky was the driving force behind several major transit projects, including the hugely successful Orange Line busway across the San Fernando Valley, the Exposition Light Rail line from downtown to Santa Monica which will be completed at the end of 2015, and the subway—Purple Line—extension from Western Ave. to West Los Angeles which broke ground in 2014. Among those he mentions, the duration of Yaroslavsky's career as an elected was eclipsed only by MRT's, and he represented neighborhoods on the Westside for virtually whole time in contrast to MRT.