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What Will It Take for Santa Monica to Wake Up?

March 4, 2021

Dear Editor,

As a resident of the city, I heartily agree with the survey that found 80 percent of residents believe that homelessness is getting worse ("Poll Finds Residents Waiting for New Council to Act on Crime and Homelessness," February 17, 2021).

And I do not agree with the staff report's finding that the current strategy is "working." ("Santa Monica on Right Track Tackling Homelessness, City Officials Say," February 22, 2021).

I remember even a year ago the problem was bad, but not bad enough to deter me from moving to Santa Monica. Since moving here, though, it's become unlivable.

A homeless man sleeps in the alcove of my apartment building several nights a week. He recently defecated about ten yards from my floor-level front door and smokes outside my bedroom window.

I have repeatedly called the police for help but they don't come unless I say "suspicious person" instead of "homeless person." Even if he is confronted by police, the man simply returns after a few nights.

My fiancée has begun calling me to walk her inside my apartment when she parks in my reserved space in the alley behind our building because she feels unsafe.

Nearly every morning I leave for work, there's a homeless person digging through the trash in the alley.

A coworker who lives a few blocks away caught a hooded man peeping through their window while they were home and confirmed this with their personal surveillance footage. Every resident I know has similar stories.

I sympathize that these are people who are down and out and often suffering from drug addiction and mental illness. However, I reject the notion that in order to help them and be compassionate we must necessarily allow our city to be overrun.

It’s not “compassionate” nor helpful to simply allow them to set up shop on our sidewalks, occupy our parks and public spaces, and regularly trespass on private property with zero consequences.

There are ways to help homeless individuals, but in no way does the "current strategy" seem to be doing so. What it is doing is making Santa Monica unlivable and nowhere near worth paying the premium in housing prices.

My family won't visit me anymore because the area is too unsafe, dirty, and run down. How many more businesses need to shutter, tax-paying residents need to depart, and tourists need to avoid us before the city finally wakes up and saves itself?

I won't be waiting around to find out. As soon as my lease ends, I will be moving somewhere safer, cleaner, and hopefully run by officials who care about the fact that their city is literally falling apart.

Taylor Trandahl
Santa Monica

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