Whistleblower hotline: (213) 785-6098

Monday, November 18, 2013

Homeless Person Attacks Father and Child at Sunland McDonald's; Locals Question Homeless Policy

Originally posted at our sister blog, The Foothills. Observed.

Sign of the Times
While many of us certainly feel compassion for those who are down on their luck and faced with the cycle of homeless, the fact that a large percentage of the homeless population are mentally ill, drug addled and violent offenders creates a huge public safety issue for the residents, families and children of our community. With an establishment, local police force and local government that is seemingly unwilling and/or incapable of dealing with the problem - and in fact may actually intentionally be excaberating it - it is time for the community to take action on it's own.

Information, contact details and an upcoming neighborhood watch meeting is listed at the end of this article. 
Read the following story posted by one of our readers at our Foothills Observed Facebook page:

Tonight I reached my threshold. Done and done.
I’m sharing this post not to start a debate or heated discussion. I share it because tonight, I got first hand experience seeing why things have gotten so out of hand with the homeless population and the effects it’s had on our community and everyone's safety.
I was at McDonald’s tonight on Foothill in Sunland having my child’s parent teacher conference.

A homeless woman obviously high on some sort of narcotic, chased a man and his toddler in the parking lot, kicking him and his car. He ran inside telling the staff to call 911. She followed him in screaming obscenities and yelling about heroine. The situation got extremely heated, the manager called 911, and my daughter’s teacher and I decided it was time to get out of there. I exited the front door only to have the woman follow me and attempt to get into my passenger side door. Thankfully, I was able to hit lock before she could open it. She then went to the rear of my SUV and started pounding on my car calling me names and screaming about heroine. I started my car and she walked across the parking lot to her shopping cart and got a metal baseball bat, banging it on the ground, and came toward my vehicle again. I threw it in reverse and sped off before she got to back to my car. 

I drove back to McDonalds moments later and didn’t see her so I went in to wait with the gentleman who was assaulted, so that I could offer a witness report. The person on the line asked the manager if anyone was hurt. When he said no, but they needed an officer to respond, he was told to ignore the woman and she would go away. We waited… no response. The staff at McDonalds told me that they have to call 911 often because there are homeless people who come in often threatening them with rocks, boulders, and other makeshift weapons, for food and money. 9 out of 10 times, there is no police response to their calls. Some of them are scared to even go to work. The kids eating their dinner in the dining room looked terrified. I left the parking lot once again telling myself, I’ve had it with this place. Wishing I didn’t feel that way.

I came home and called the Foothill Division to express my disappointment at the lack of response. I spoke to an Officer Carlin who blew me off, and told me that if I wasn’t hurt and if it was resolved there was nothing he could do. He then told me that they were too busy for my phone call, and that if I wanted to say something I could drive down to the station. He became more helpful when I asked him for his name, badge number , and supervisor. 

His supervisor Officer Kennedy came on the line and heard me out, apologized and told me that he would send a car out as soon as possible and that he was aware that McDonalds had frequent episodes of this nature. That they do all they can but there is only ONE patrol car assigned to patrol Tujunga regularly. I found that disappointing too. But even the supervisor didn’t ask for my name or contact info in case he wanted to follow up with me or have me offer a formal statement of any kind. 

There are people who’ve said that we should embrace this epidemic and be more understanding. But the situation I witnessed tonight is just one of many, it’s happening more and more and it’s ignored.

Part of me got home and felt like just moving on, that calling wouldn’t make a difference. But after hearing the officer at the field office be so cocky and uninterested I was glad I did, even if I had to hold for 20 minutes to talk to his supervisor. Maybe that is what it will take… people calling and pursuing action all the time, every time.

At the root of much of this appears to be the secret machinations of the so-called "Sunland-Tujunga
The word in Spanish is "BASTA (enough)!"
Homeless Working Group," an organization made up of representatives of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighbohrood Council, Council District 7 staff and other organizations. This was the group who recently held a "homeless resources fair" at Sunland Park, previously home for 50 years to our Watermelon Festival, enticing local homeless as well as those bused in from other communities to receive public assistance, housing, ID cards (paid for by STNC) and free food. Following this event, locals noticed an increase in homeless in the park, dumping of trash and a proliferation of shopping carts.

As writer/blogger Joseph Maiilander noted, the Homeless Working Group does not invite public participation and it's meetings are considered confidential, inclusion is at the whim of CD7 Council Member Felipe Fuentes: 

After three months of pressing the Council office, it has finally been determined: The Sunland-Tujunga Homeless Issues Working Group meets PRIVATELY, by invite of Councilmember Felipe Fuentes ONLY, and the public is NOT invited.

When such meetings that so dramatically affect the future of the community are conducted in private, completely out of community view, with no public review whatsoever--and the Neighborhood Council does not even register any protest that they should be conducted in public--can anyone really still believe that this happens because the Council office, the developer of Day Street, or the people in the group are working in the best interests of the community of Sunland-Tujunga?

When the Neighborhood Council swallows such a private arrangement so gladly, can anyone believe your Neighborhood Council is working in the interest of your community?
You as a community are entirely cut out of that dialog--a dialog that directly affects your community's future, a dialog that is establishing your community as the homeless destination of the Northeast Valley. And yet your Neighborhood Council only seems fine with this relationship, and doesn't even care that these meetings are private!

That's the kind of playing along that government officials just love to hand out certificates for.

As our local officials have failed us, it is time for the community to speak out. It is highly suggested that you contact LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and demand he conduct a full investigation of the Sunland-Tujunga Homeless Working Group and a full review of all policies/actions dealing with the homeless in our community:

500 West Temple Street, Room 869
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-5555
(213) 974-1010 FAX
You can send the Supervisor an email at this link.

Additionally, please contact Council Member Felipe Fuentes to demand he open the Homeless Working Group and all records of it's decisions to the public:

7747 Foothill Blvd.
Tujunga, CA 91042
Tel: (818) 352-3287 | Fax: (818) 352-8563
You can reach Wesly Hernandez, Area Director at wesly.hernandez@lacity.org

You can also speak up at an upcoming Neighborhood Watch Meeting, this coming Tuesday, November 19th, at 7 pm at North Valley City Hall. 

7747 Foothill Blvd.
Tujunga, CA 91042

Reaching out to these elected officials and attending these meetings will not immediately change things. But the more people who speak up, bug the hell out of these elected officials and step up more often to resist the status quo will begin to make a change.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Petra Fried in the City said:

Michael, you've kind of missed a big part of this story in your energetic desire to harp on the homeless situation in our community... and that is the complete and utter lack of Community Policing by LAPD.

PD has all the cash, all the staffing, all the expensive toys, and an almost carte blanche support from our electeds - and they don't provide service any longer. If you point this out, they claim budget problems, which is crazy since they pretty much get the vast majority of the General Fund.

Story after story out there points to one thing: Community Policing is dead with our police force.

This is a big deal.

November 18, 2013 10:00 PM  

Blogger SUSAN ROCHA said:

Senior lead officers are the ones that should be on top of these types of situations. There are good and not so good Senior Lead Officers (SLO's). There absolutely needs to be more than one senior lead officer in every area. Community policing works when the senior lead officer is really involved in the community.
That does not always happen.

Know who your Senior Lead Officer is and how to reach them. LAPD needs more Senior Lead Officers and less paper pushers.

December 08, 2013 8:18 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home