The Public Safety Commission wrestled with several fundamental security issues facing WeHo on Monday night, attempting to address them with urgency while grappling with their sheer scope.
The debate began during public comment, when Bill Karpiak spoke up to ask for a security kiosk at the Ramada Plaza.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in crime and homeless in our location and along Santa Monica Boulevard, and I know you’re very familiar with how it is affecting residents, visitors and local businesses,” he said. “People living on the street can be very aggressive these days and I’ve received numerous complaints from our tenants from some of our hotel customers as well as retail guests as well.”
He was deeply concerned about how the situation is affecting international travelers, whose No. 1 concern is security, he said, and who contribute 50 percent of the revenue generated by West Hollywood hotels.“It’s just our hope that we can provide the safest destination possible.”
The commissioners agreed that a demonstrable increase in crime warranted the establishment of a kiosk on the city’s West Side — but other parts of town were in need of them, too. The debate splintered on where it was needed most urgently.
“I’m not saying that we don’t need (a kiosk) by the Ramada,” said Commissioner Tod Hallman, but “it should start emphatically on the east side.”
“I’m not discounting the need on the East Side,” said Commissioner Robert Oliver, “but I do think that we need to look at numbers. When you look at the numbers, the majority of the assaults run the west side of town. The robberies, the burglaries, the one rape in the city — it was on the west side of town. All of the majority of the crimes happening in the city are happening on the west side of town.”
Commissioner Danny Roman was unconvinced the kiosks would do any good.
“When the vagrant starts going crazy — what do we do? We run to the kiosk and say, ‘Hey Block by Block, go get them!’ And then what is that person going to do? Because the bigger problem here is you can’t do anything to them. It doesn’t matter if Block By Block lock is there, it doesn’t matter if the President is there, it doesn’t matter if there’s seven cops there. There’s a much deeper issue here.”
“I mean, we were burglarized on Monday morning,” he said. “Somebody broke through the front end and stole $10,000 worth of bikes. The cops come, they fill out a report, and everybody goes back to work. I send crazy emails to Council, and no one even responds. And we just keep going.”
“Putting the kiosk at Ramada — It’s not going to do shit.”
The commissioners agreed that the problem was greater than whether or where to place a kiosk. Greater presence by law enforcement and Block by Block ambassadors was needed overall.
“Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but we have to do it all,” said Commissioner Nika Soon-Shiang. “And I think that we need to put together a response that addresses what people have come to expect from this commission and asked us for.”
The commission approved a motion to call a special meeting to continue the discussion.