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Residents Urge Stronger Action to Curb Growing Homeless Problem

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June 14, 2023 -- More than a dozen Santa Monica residents took to the podium at Tuesday's City Council meeting to share their personal encounters with the homeless and urge stronger action to curb crime and anti-social behavior.

The speakers -- who provided input on items not on the agenda -- included a high school student who no longer frequents Santa Monica parks after his friend was stabbed and a hotel owner who is losing guests afraid for their safety.

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"Whatever is being done is simply not enough," said John Farzam, the Shore Hotel's co-owner, who shared a letter from a guest who refuses to return.

Farzam said it is not unusual to witness "lewd behavior, open alcohol containers and public nudity" along Ocean Avenue.

The mother of three teenagers said she was driving one of her sons to school when a woman stripped on the corner of 12th Street and Olympic Boulevard.

During lunch that day, her son saw "two people defecating," she said. "You are stifling the development of the children of this city."

A 15-year-old Santa Monica High School student agreed, saying his friends have been victims of crime, including one who was stabbed last week.

"I look over my shoulder every ten seconds," the student said. "I'm terrified. I'm sick of living in a state of fear.

"I don't go to the parks anymore. I don't go to the beach. I don't feel safe."

Janet McLaughlin said she "remembers how safe we used to feel. In Sunset Park we didn't lock our doors."

She said her youngest son and his friends were recently confronted in Tongva Park by a homeless man who demanded that they leave, then stabbed one of the boys in the face and throat.

"Before he was out of the hospital, the slasher was out" of jail, she said. "My youngest son has never known the idyllic life of his (older)siblings."

Resident Jack Levy said a homeless person spit on his wife and dog as they were taking a recent walk.

"It's time to help out people in this city," he said. "The Promenade, the Library, they've turned into absolute hell holes. Now I don't want to take my family there."

"Forget about the bike lanes and plastic straws," he urged the Council. "Stop coddling homeless vagrants and mentally ill. It's not fair to people who pay taxes."

One woman said a homeless person was living in his car across from her home for four weeks, watching her every time she left and returned.

"My husband wants to leave our forever home in Santa Monica," she said.

The City -- which spends some $42.5 million a year tackling homelessness -- isn't taking strong enough action to curb the crime and anti-social behavior, the speakers agreed.

Resident Loraine Foxworth described the scene at the Capital One branch she frequents on Broadway and 15th Street, where there was "food, garbage, feet up on sofas."

Foxworth said she complained to the bank's CEO about "the atrocious situation."

"Two weeks later it was 1,000 percent cleaned up," she said. "Spotless.

"If one person can do it," she told the Council, "you guys can do it."

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