An eye-catching sign posted by some local property owners is causing controversy in Santa Monica.
“We feel the security in the promenade is awful,” said property manager John Alle. “We feel that the city has let addicts and the drug dealing and the needle distribution on the promenade and in the garage get out of hand [sic].”
Members of the Santa Monica Coalition put up a sign that reads “Santa Monica is not safe – Crime, Depravity, Outdoor Mental Asylum.”
All said while the sign might be pushing customers away, the problem is out of control and must be addressed.
“They’re not willing to deal with it and we felt this was a way to get their attention,” said Alle. “There’s controversy as to whether this is good for business or not but we’d rather not let this linger.”
Down at nearby pizzeria employees say they’ve witnessed violent behavior, substance abuse and more.
“I think I have mixed feelings,” said a worker. “We all do, the workers around here.”
The employees say they depend on the foot traffic, especially during the holiday season. However, they are concerned the sign could hurt their bottom line.
“I think it sends the message of don’t come here,” said cashier Denisse Cordova. “And we as workers we want the people to be here … It’s a very beautiful place and we all should feel safe.
A spokesperson for the city said the Santa Monica Police Department recently increased patrols downtown and new private security resources have been added to the area.
“It’s sad a small group of landlords are working against our collective success through signage,” the spokesperson said.
People like tourist Natasha Richards, who traveled from Trinidad and Tobago said she just wanted a safe and pleasant experience along the promenade. She said that she was started by the sign.
“You come here to have a good time so when you see the sign it makes you think,” said Richards. “It’s not good for the publicity.”
The coalition said they’ve seen businesses pull out of the area in recent months and want to see even more police patrols and resources to help address the problems.