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Santa Monica’s Reed Park Target of Complaints about Drugs and Other Illegal Activities
By Niki Cervantes
April 4, 2018 -- One year after extensive renovation, Santa Monica’s Reed Park is the subject of rising complaints from neighbors alleging drug sales and other illegal activities are scaring visitors away.
Neighboring residents have been taking to social media to document, sometimes with pictures and video, what they see as an increase in homeless encampments and problems with drugs at one the City’s oldest parks.
One mother had bright news to report on Easter, when her family strolled the area and noticed changes in the park across from St. Monica Church.
“My calls and apparently other neighbors’ calls to police and community leaders including St Monica Church led to Reed Park getting cleaned up and being at least for a day a drug dealing free zone," she wrote on the Facebook page of residocracy.org, a site increasingly filled with concerns about crime.
She added that the park was "not as scary as it was over the last two weeks when a bike ‘gang’ (riding bicycles) took the park over,” she wrote.
She warned that after the holiday weekend "some of the them are back" and urged neighbors to be vigilant and "help in taking our neighborhood and Reed Park back.”
A post on Santa Monica Crime, a public Facebook group, said complaints from neighbors had led to and increased patrols and arrest on Monday.
"Arrest made today at Reed Park," Enis Yeneriz wrote. "For those who may not be aware, there has been a criminal element that has been loitering and conducting illegal activities in and from the park throughout the surrounding neighborhoods."
On Wednesday, another member wrote, “Drove by yesterday afternoon at 4 p.m. and they all were back.”
Santa Monica police have increased patrols by narcotics officers and members of its Homeless Liaison Program, said Lt. Saul Rodriguez, the Police Department spokesman.
Some individuals or groups not affiliated with the City have been providing free food in the park, which may be increasing the number of homeless visitors, he said.
"We know there are people coming to feed the homeless," Rodriguez said. "But until we have a better picture, we won't know" if what is going on is criminal.
The 5.2-acre park located between 7th Street and Lincoln Boulevard north of Wilshire Boulevard, was formerly known as Lincoln Park, which became ground zero for homeless encampments, and related problems, in Santa Monica in the 1990s.
The City spent $520,000 and nine months renovating the park before re-opening it in 1995. Three years later, it was renamed Christine Emerson Reed Park, after a late City Council member.
Over the past few years, the park has been renovated in phases, including an overhaul of the playgrounds, added landscaping along Wilshire, new gardens next to Miles Playhouse, new signage and general updates to the park buildings ("Santa Monica Funds Reed Park Improvement Project," May 12, 2016).
Several of the posts on the Residocracy and Santa Monica Crime pages say the residents expect more from a City with one of the highest budgets per capita in the County.
"Every time the topic is broached, it seems like their defense is that they only have so many patrol cars/cops," Faith Rumack wrote on Santa Monica Crime's Facebook page.
"That begs the question, 'Why??' For what we all pay to live here, we should have whatever it takes to keep us all safe."
Jorge Casuso contributed to this report
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