Opinion: Transients Are a Serious Eastside Issue, and the City Isn’t Doing Enough

A homeless person with a cart full of belongings sleeping on WeHo's Eastside (Photo courtesy of Roxanne McBryde).
A homeless person with a cart full of belongings sleeping on WeHo’s Eastside (Photo courtesy of Roxanne McBryde).

I want to thank the members of the West Hollywood City Council and of the city’s Public Safety Commission who listened last week as me and my neighbor, Tod Hallman, shared our concerns about the transient/homeless situation on the city’s Eastside.

And I want to take this opportunity on WEHOville to share my perspective on the issue with a wider audience of West Hollywood residents, some of who are also experiencing what we see in our neighborhood. I especially want to share this with people who spoke at the city council meeting after Tod and I left and said that we were exaggerating the issue.

Roxanne McBryde
Roxanne McBryde

Exaggerating? These people have not walked in our shoes on Formosa Avenue, Detroit Street and Lexington Avenue. I’m sure they don’t have the photos that I have taken of crack pipes on my driveway, people openly defecating at the sidewalk, transients jumping over gates, tents pitched right on the sidewalk of Detroit Street and Lexington Avenue, transients sleeping in carports and transients loitering on private property. Then there are the transients doing drugs, sleeping, changing clothes and masturbating in Formosa Park. (If anybody would like to see these pictures and/or videos, say the word. I will happily share them.)

This is an ongoing issue. For example at 8:15 p.m. Saturday night, I had my gate door open for maybe five minutes. I was next door on the sidewalk with a dog. I usually lock the door behind me as I leave, but I had a friend who was stopping over in a few minutes so I left it unlocked and open and kept an eye on my door. In less than three minutes after I stepped out, an African-American transient across the street saw my gate unlocked and crossed the street. He had been at 1212 Formosa Ave, which is where transients now hang out in carports and, in the middle of the night, have sex.

This particular person wasted no time to go inside my gate, which I usually keep locked. I have lived here 25 years and have never experienced anything as bold and brazen as that, although my neighbors tell me about similar incidents on a daily basis. This guy seemed to have been in that carport across the street watching and waiting for the opportunity to go into my property.

Here’s the list of ongoing complaints from our neighbors:

— Transients are using bolt cutters to break into locked gates of apartment and condo buildings. They go onto into building laundry rooms where they turn tricks, hang out, do drugs, steal laundry and trash the area. They also go into private back yards, entering any empty home by breaking windows or door locks and then trashing the place. The new owner of 1207 Detroit St., who bought the property two months ago, has had to call the Sheriff’s Station four times to report transients breaking down doors and windows and gates to go into the property. One neighbor, who spoke at a Dec. 7 community meeting, said the gate to their garage has been cut open every single week for the last several months. Mail packages also are being stolen from front porches and mailboxes are being broken into.

— Transients are hiding their belongings and drugs in bushes of private homes, going onto private porches and sleeping or hanging out. Some of the transients even store their belongings — drugs, clothes, back packs — above the storage lockers in apartment building carports. They are chased away by Sheriff’s deputies and the city’s Security Ambassadors, but then return hours later or the next day.

— Transients have been gathering at Ralph’s, the grocery store on La Brea Avenue. They hide in the stairwell on the store’s Detroit side, where they have sex and do drugs. They also sleep, loiter, defecate and spread trash on the Detroit Street side. There also are transgender transients selling sex in the bathrooms and acting angry when confronted. Steve, one of the managers, told me recently that there has been a huge increase of strange transients coming into the store. Some people have told me that they will not shop at Ralphs at night. Transients also have been camping out at the nearby McDonald’s.

— Transients increasingly are “in your face” — bold and confrontational. They act as if they know you, getting too close to your personal space, trying to taunt your dogs by waving their hands at you and using swear words while simply walking by.

Apparently for political reasons it’s easier for our leaders to not address this issue, keeping the appearance that WeHo is a welcoming and tolerant city that embraces these people because we want to help them. It is much easier to let the law-abiding, tax-paying residents get worn out from complaining, even if that means forcing this situation to be a way of life for the Eastside. Two friends of mine, Jennifer Mintz and Amy Bojanowski, have both moved from the Eastside in recent months because of the scary confrontations and behavior from strange, drug-addled transients.

A meth pipe abandoned under an Eastside tree.
A meth pipe abandoned under an Eastside tree.

Tod Hallman, who is newly appointed to the Eastside Task Force, and I, a Neighborhood Watch Captain, have been fighting this problem for four years. In the last two years it seems to have gotten worse. We, and our neighbors are tired and fed up because it seems that little is being done. We appreciate the great jobs the Security Ambassadors and Sheriffs Station do, but we also know there are not enough deputies to cover the entire city of West Hollywood at all hours. To start, we want more Security Ambassadors in the early morning hours, seven days a week. The city is working on this to implement it, but it is just a temporary band-aid.

The Sheriff’s Station response time is faster on the Westside than the Eastside because that’s where the station is located. Many of our neighbors have given up calling the station because of the interrogation they go through from the person who answers the phone. Then they have to stand around waiting for a deputy to show up. And when one does, the officers often simply talk to the offenders, then let them go, only for us to see the same offenders back in our neighborhood hours later or the next day. Understandably, Prop 47 has had a negative impact on the Sheriff’s Department being able to do their job efficiently, but something’s got to change to protect the residents of the Eastside.

These transients are people who don’t live here but feel entitled to be here because it’s West Hollywood and they know that they will be treated with kid gloves by our Sheriff’s Station as compared to the treatment they’ll get from the L.A. Police Department.

So the City Council passes the baton to the Public Safety Commissioners, yet little is really is being done to correct these scary conditions for the residents. Funneling dollars to different organizations that assist the homeless without *accountability won’t solve this issue. Quite frankly, putting another homeless shelter over here on the Eastside will not solve the issue either. There are already six areas that skirt the Eastside that I can easily walk to in a few minutes for feeding, overnight stays, and help for the transients/homeless population. Rather than help, all it has done has caused an increase into our areas all hours of the day and night. The problem just keeps continuing with no light at the end of the tunnel. Something legitimate has to happen soon, and it’s time that the West Hollywood City Council step up to the plate and do something to solve this problem permanently.

This article is written in memory of Troy Legg who passed away two years ago and fought endlessly over this issue as I continue to carry the baton in his name.

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Barbara Mayo
Barbara Mayo
4 years ago

I am a female who has lived in weho for 7 years now. I’ve noticed a significant increase in transient tweakers this past year. They hav eliterally multiplied. They lay by the memorial fountain sometimes naked and always high or wasted. Ive witnessed people shooting up, pitched tents, tons of littering, etc. The other day around 2pm there was a guy with a stick chasing another man and threatening to hit him. Just as this was going on, a sheriffs suv drove by, looked at the situation and KEPT DRIVING as some of us were waving. Today I accidentally made… Read more »

kab1200
kab1200
4 years ago
Reply to  Barbara Mayo

Barbara, I have no information to give you, but I completely understand your frustration, as I feel exactly as you do. I sometimes go out to the bars on Santa Monica Blvd on Sunday evening, and I can’t tell you how many messed up people I see in corners, sidewalks, by the fountain, by IHop, etc. If Weho wants to do a homeless outreach, they need to come out and walk down the boulevard. We had a homeless person sleeping behind my secure condo building, and the sheriffs did come, but they just made him leave, and told us we… Read more »

Em
Em
6 years ago

It’s the same damn growing problem here in the West Los Angeles. We are constantly blocked by homeless advocates who think all the homeless are helpless and harbor no ill will and are super clean of any drug habits. NO these transients don’t “bother” anyone, they are so nice while they piss on your alley wall, snort or shoot chemicals on private property stairs or kindly shit on the sidewalk near your property or back of your home. Many of these people need accountability – If you are in need of help I would think such folks would welcome it,… Read more »

J
J
6 years ago

I’m not sure that it’s pure NIMBY-ism that is driving anti-homeless sentiment, which I don’t think is anti-homeless so much as it is anti-TRANSIENT MENACE. You might feel a little differently when your expensive bicycle or the front grill to your car has been stolen. Both things have happened to me in the last year and I live near Detroit and Lexington. It took a lot of determination to steal a chained bicycle and to steal a grill off an old Volvo. I am not inclined to fee that sorry for the people who stole those things from Me and… Read more »

kab1200
kab1200
6 years ago
Reply to  J

I totally agree with you!

Oliver Francis
Oliver Francis
6 years ago

Not surprised at how the issue of what to do about a regional homeless crisis has devolved into more NIMBYism in WeHo. And the city has not added 20% more residents as a result of development. The only way out of the housing shortage is to build more housing and luckily in WeHo that brings more affordable housing with it. People are in denial about homelessness. You need more homes to fix it. Look at the Save Tara house! It could have provided 45 people permanent homes. The city owns that house. Why don’t we use that house for a… Read more »

kab1200
kab1200
6 years ago
Reply to  Oliver Francis

He’ll no! What good are shelters if they don’t want to be there?

Brian Holt
Brian Holt
6 years ago

@James Mar gold star for best idea yet. Thank you, Roxanne, for taking the time on our behalf. As an eastsider (not far from this hot mess) I too have seen an increase in this disturbing trend. It makes no sense to beautify and “upgrade” the eastside if we’re not tackling the obvious. Nevermind these folks are a health and public saftey issue – they are often times dangerous criminals. Even with security cameras and a gate with hedge wall – and in broad daylight no less – one of these folks was ballsy (or desperate) enough to climb over… Read more »

Randy
Randy
6 years ago

Dr Love, please don’t make this into a NIMBY issue. The entire Los Angeles region has a severe housing shortage, which is the main reason why rents (and real estate) are so high. We need more places for people to live. And yes, that even includes luxury apartments.

Regarding the businesses not taking up retail space, that is a tough question to answer. One could assume they won’t do it because of the transient problem, but it could also be because rents are too high for them to consider opening a viable business. Its difficult to know.

Robert
Robert
6 years ago

To Johnnie B, I didn’t make this a racial issue, Roxanne did. She chose to use the words “African American” when she could have just as easily made her point without telling the race of the person. Her choice of words speaks volumes. In filing many complaints at the Stanley Mosk Superior Courthouse for years, I can assure you that a persons choice of words make a huge difference. If she had said that in front of a Judge and Jury or even under oath in a Deposition, the case would be thrown out. There is a huge co-relation between… Read more »

Lynn
Lynn
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert

Some excellent points Robert. We could all be less harsh and more mindful about our unconscious descriptives about people. Words and expressions divide even without action. It seems in the city’s quest for revenue the balance has tipped towards making this a transient community in many respects. Transients at 5 star or 0 star level often have no respect or responsibility towards the community they are passing through. We attract the best and the worst but appear oblivious to the downside and exponential issues that the residents are left to endure. This community can have 5 star standards in multiple… Read more »

James Mars
6 years ago

They put the sheriffs station too far west, so they need to put a sub station right in the labrea and Santa Monica blvd area. It’s no coincidence that there is the most crime here as it’s the farthest point from both the Hollywood station and the West Hollywood sheriffs station. Until then, no mobile command unit will work unless it is immobilized. The criminal mind is not that stupid, as they simply jump the lebrea border to which ever side has less heat. Both the LAPD, and the LASD will eventually have to build a joint command center to… Read more »

Dr Love
Dr Love
6 years ago

The fact is there are thousands of new residents that have moved into a half mile square radius of SMB and LaBrea due to development, redevelopment, over development and the developing continues. Yet law enforcement has not increased to handle the influx of thousands. It is irresponsible for any City to develop hundreds of new living spaces and not adjust traffic, parking, law enforcement, code compliance etc to maintain the quality of life that existed before 6,000 new residents moved into the neighborhood. The retail spaces on the ground floor of both The Huxley Building on LaBrea/Fountain and the Dylan… Read more »

V Wolf
V Wolf
6 years ago

We are indeed fed up with the constant barrage of dangerous meth heads and other menaces to our well-being! Is it TOO much to ask that we, taxpayers, homeowners, business owners, CITIZENS are deserving of a safe, civilized place in which to live?

carleton cronin
carleton cronin
6 years ago

Any citizen who reads widely knows that homelessness is not just a local problem, but a national – perhaps international – problem. However, it must be dealt with locally. Consider Los Angeles county and city: They have no idea of how to handle the situation aside from having meeting to discuss it. .If thousands of refugees can be housed in tent villages in such places as Lebanon, why cannot out administrators adopt the same approach as a stopgap measure? At least it would give some relief and allow for clearer thinking about truly addressing the plight of the homeless. Meanwhile,… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

I lived in central/east Weho for 8 years. Left to an equally expensive, but far more peaceful part of LA county because was tired of the extreme body odor, fecal matter, old/decaying bags/clothing, maniacal laughter, Meth pipes, naked body parts, off-kilter comments. I can’t believe people are paying $2500+ a month for a studio at the Dylan and Huxley right in the center of this. Still love Weho and its charm, but only come as a visitor now. Sometimes during the day, there are more transients than professionals on santa monica blvd. It sounds like it is getting worse –… Read more »

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