Iconic Santa Monica Chess Park may be closed due to homelessness and drug use – NBC Los Angeles

The once iconic Chess Park on the Santa Monica Boardwalk may close soon due to problems with the homeless, drugs, and prostitution.

Neighbors have been documenting the problems in Santa Monica’s Chess Park for five years, taking photos and videos of the homeless and the mentally ill screaming, using drugs, exposing themselves and threatening people.

In one video like this, a man can be heard saying, “I’ll get a hammer and come back and hit you two on the head!”

The city is expected to intervene on this issue. Vikki Vargas will report for NBC4 News on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.

Neighbors say the once famous park at the foot of Santa Monica Pier has crumbled.

“It’s turned into a dump and garbage can. It’s beautiful beachfront property and nobody wants to come here,” said owner Robert Zohoury.

The massive chessboard on the floor is empty, the large chess pieces are locked in a cage.

The tabletop chess boards are now littered with graffiti.

The city says it has sheltered more than 260 homeless people since its relief program began in January, but tonight the fence is up – and they have all been cleared. Beverly White will report for NBC4 News on October 15, 2021 at 11 p.m. O

After numerous break-in attempts, neighboring buildings fenced off their property.

“My bike was stolen from my terrace and a man jumped on my balcony and tried to get into my apartment while I was there,” said resident Tami Gendel.

Now the city’s park and recreation commission has voted to recommend closing the chess park – at least temporarily – while the city works out a better use for it.

“The city has been notified – the community is upset,” said councilor Phil Brock.

Brock says the full council will consider the recommendation to close Chess Park, but may also decide to simply remove the long tables and benches often used as beds by the homeless.

The city could also put up a fence and cordon it off at night.

“I’m asking to get more LA County psychologists. I also ask for a stronger police presence to enforce the parking times, ”he said.

The residents are relieved that something is finally happening.

You want the Chess Park to be turned into a community garden or outdoor fitness center. The city council is expected to look into the issue in the coming month.

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