Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Sign on Third Street Promenade Condemning Santa Monica as Unsafe Deemed Unwanted by City Council

Their resolution has no legal impact but allowed them to vent their frustration (and expose a great deal of cravenness)

City Manager David White

June 28, 2024 - The Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously to condemn a sign hung in a storefront on the Third Street Promenade that labels the city as unsafe and accuses City Manager David White of complicity in putting needles into the hands of drug addicts. The resolution has no legal impact and cannot force the store owner to take down the sign.

The sign is sponsored by the Santa Monica Coalition, a group of residents and business and property owners. It says "Santa Methica is not Safe" and adds "Our city manager supports the needle & meth pipe distribution program in our parks and public spaces." The sign is located on a block of the Promenade with multiple empty storefronts.

A resolution was requested by Councilmember Gleam Davis, Mayor Brock, and Vice-mayor Lana Negrete to "reflect the Council's disapproval" of the sign, which they claimed falsely represented White as approving of the Los Angeles County Health Department's "'free needle and meth pipe'" program."

The veracity of the sign is fairly well substantiated, however, by emails obtained by the Santa Monica Coalition between White and officials at the LADPH that clearly show them creating a Joint Statement to help support the needle distribution, "harm reduction" program. The overt goal of the Joint Statement was to persuade the public to accept the program. That statement has since been removed from both the city's website and that of the LADPH after the City Council learned of the program and voted to make sure no city funds went to help in needle distribution in the city's public spaces.

Currently, drug paraphernalia is distributed by Venice Family Clinic teams, contracted by the LADPH, to addicts in Reed Park, Palisades Park, and Tongva Park in Santa Monica. The goal is purportedly to prevent the spread of HIV and other transmissible diseases. Several individuals who have witnessed the program in action have stated that a brochure regarding drug counseling is also passed out, but the VFC workers do not speak to the drug users about their addiction or counsel them in how or where to get help. No other medical or general welfare advice is given.

No evidence was provided at the council meeting to prove the contention that the free-speech sign is preventing businesses from leasing space on the Promenade. The Santa Monica Coalition, however, has extensive surveys from store owners on the Promenade citing an excessive amount of shoplifting occurring very day in their businesses. Police are not allowed to arrest shoplifters under state and local law unless they personally witness the theft.


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