Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Two Santa Monicas in Numbers

We do not have a homeless crisis in Santa Monica. We have an enforcement problem, a transient addict problem, and a mental illness crisis that won't be solved by apartments

Alyssa Erdley

Our public parks are unusable

I want to thank our police department for their work in apprehending this felon (picture below). Great work in catching up to him within 24 hours of his attack-proactive policing at its best. He was on parole in San Bernardino and didn't check in, which is a violation. I don't know what he was originally in prison for, but these days you practically have to kill somebody to go to jail (the last person who attacked me was set free the same day). In Santa Monica, this transient was arrested in 2022 for shoplifting, and in 2023 for public intoxication and assault on an officer-no jail time. He has no known address.

I'd like to address the fiction that we have a homeless crisis in Santa Monica. I've long been saying that we have an enforcement problem, a transient addict problem, and a mental illness crisis that won't be solved by apartments. Here are some numbers to consider:

A public records request from the Homeless Management Information System reveals that Santa Monica has an actual throughput of 6,000 transient homeless people a year. What this means is the average stay in SM for the mentally ill and addicted people we see staggering around on our streets is 2 months. Because data is the enemy of the reality averse, a major non-profit here pulled out and stopped maintaining this system in 2021. Why? Pure gamesmanship and an aversion to oversight.

What this also means is our 'point-of-time' homeless count of between 800-900 people is a pure fiction. And it implies that surely we can just address these poor longstanding Santa Monica residents in crisis. Ha! Something else: LA County took over the homeless count from this city this year. They changed the time to much earlier in the evening, before people are bedded down. How in the world will that be accurate? Do you trust LA County and City, which spend 2 biilion a year on "homelessness," which is 27,000 per homeless person?! How much of that ends up directly helping the homeless and how much goes into administrative salaries? What I do know is that LA county and city do not supply funds to deal with the problem they have created for Santa Monica being a terminal end point for the train (and is why Newsom is trying to wrest control from local agencies with Prop 1). We can't control them, but we can control what happens, to a certain extent, within our borders.


Anthony Romero, 28, arrested on charges of burglary, indecent exposure and intent to commit rape

What does this have to do with the aspiring rapist pictured above? Citing for low-level offenses like public urination, public drug use, etc, then running for warrants, can really help catch felons before attacks happen. Yesterday, walking by Reed Park, 4 guys were sitting on the grass passing a glass straw around and smoking hard drugs. They should be arrested, cited, their drugs confiscated, and run for warrants. The message has to be sent, at the highest and lowest levels, that we will not tolerate transients flooding our city, stealing, doing drugs publicly, defecating wherever, and destroying our Commons, which our residents, living mainly in apartments, deserve to use.

Because within this parade of addicts and the mentally are hardcore dangerous people. I recognize the prison tattoos. We need another 50-100 sworn officers with arrest powers in our community (current hiring is fighting an equally steady retirement wave). The undercover unit needs to be reactivated so we can go after dealers that are embed in my neighborhood, keeping the addicts here. And the tiny, activist do-nothings on the police oversight committee need to be ignored, if not completely disbanded. They do not represent the vast majority of citizens who feel more safe the more police they see. Leave our incredibly professional police department alone to do their jobs. Call me when you actually have a case of police brutality, and aren't simply virtue-signaling to an ideology the rest of the country has moved on from (keep reading for proof).

The reality is that out of 2400 arrests last year, 180 were from Santa Monica. Again, this is because we are being flooded with a throughput of 6,000 addicted and mentally ill transients a year, with between 25-60 coming off the train and buses every day. Gleam Davis says house them all; they are "Santa Monicans." But that's impossible and the faulty thinking behind it needs to be confronted. The numbers are being gamed. For the life of me I don't understand the myopia that supports killing our downtown.

Because the problem is existential for Santa Monica, as this restaurant closing on the promenade demonstrates, citing safety as the primary concern.

The Santa Monica Coalition

Billboard and logo of the Santa Monica Coalition, a group of residents, business and property owners who want to see safety returned to Santa Monica

But the good news is, nationwide, there is some hope. Other deep blue cities like San Francisco, New York and DC have woken up to the crisis, as this Politico article outlines. My fellow progressives should all read it if you need cover to see reality clearly and possibly even change your minds. Anti-enforcement, anything goes, defund-the-police, meet everybody with a social worker and a smile, doesn't work. Not saying we don't need social workers, but we also need zero tolerance policing. New York just put the National Guard in the subway system, something unheard of for a deep Blue state. San Francisco just voted in drug testing for welfare, sick of enabling the disintegration of humans and their commons. DC brought back enhancements to deal with the carjackings. The great and silent middle and working class people, country-wide, has had enough with failed social experiments like needle distribution that caters to the least productive members of society, while ignoring the most. Take your luxury beliefs and run the experiment on your front lawn.

One example of the shift: I was at the farmer's market yesterday and on my way ran into a neighbor near Arizona and 6th. She is a longtime resident, the marketing director for a far left school, and she's had it. Because right in front of us was the tale of two Santa Monicas. One vibrant with people bustling around on a sunny Saturday, going to the market, yoga, etc. And another with 3 addicts passed out within eye view, one twitching badly in the alley. Several more staggered by us, one with prison tattoos up his neck. And one dealer who works our neighborhood wheeled by on a bike, wearing a covid mask to hide his identity. All this within a short conversation! It was so striking that we both mentioned it. The magic and the misery of Santa Monica right now. Sunshine noir. My fellow progressives should all understand people want way more magic. You are not seeing the rumblings of the counter-revolution; they will vote you out.

Bottom line, and what a surprise, is people react to consequences. Time to hold them accountable for their behavior. And time to hold our elected officials accountable. The city, which should be thriving and recovering, is not. There is only one issue people care about right now, restoring our city to a safe and clean place. Everything else waterfalls down from this issue. Make it a priority and watch businesses, tourism, and our quality of life return.


Reader Comments(1)

Bobby writes:

I cannot go downtown with (or without) kids without our local drug addicted homeless population yelling at us or swinging at us at some point during the visit. Meanwhile, our libraries are closed and when they are open are simply hosting homeless drug addicts who smell and make the place impossible for a decent person to stay for longer than it takes to check out a book. Our City has invited these people to come to Santa Monica from around the County to do drugs freely and basically terrorize the tax-paying citizens. The so-called social work organizations are profiting from the anarchy and chaos by receiving millions of dollars with no accountability in how they spend the money. Is this what taxpayers, citizens, and leaders of Santa Monica really want? Why are we being terrorized by City Council and Santa Monica's City Attorney and General Manager - who are making many hundreds of thousands of dollars to hurt citizens. At this point, I don't understand voters or elected government.