At 9AM Thursday morning, 28 January, 36 Sunland-Tujunga & nearby residents braved the perils of Zoom in desktop, laptop, tablet and cellphone to join 2021's first Foothill LAPD Neighborhood Watch meeting! Senior Lead Officers Cesar Contreras (Sunland) and Gloria Caloca (Tujunga) presiding.
Last year, S-T's overall crime was down even though property crimes here have risen sharply. Our Friday political protests increased arrests.
Most important, S-T has very little violent crime or gang violence. Those are higher in Sun Valley and Pacoima, so patrols assigned to S-T may be pulled away to save lives. Even so, a string of TVR gang graffiti recently dirtied walls on Commerce Av. It's our job to report gang graffiti via MyLA311 and inform our SLOs who can inform Gang Units.
Although City rules closed Foothill Station's front desk, operations are becoming more self-sufficient given the stress of COVID-19 and its safeguards. Faddish defunding of LAPD has taken its toll on police equipment and resources. Special units like the HOPE Team (dealing with unhoused) are being disbanded. The Human Trafficking team has been weakened.
Foothill's bilingual Capt. Johnny Smith is very approachable and eager to communicate with public.
NOW! FILE MORE POLICE REPORTS ONLINE!
The list of police matters you can report online has expanded to include harassing phone calls, lost items, vandalism, graffiti, simple theft (e.g., porch pirates), theft from vehicle, and minor hit-n-run: https://www.lapdonline.org/home/content_basic_view/60409
Abandoned vehicles should be reported on the MyLA311 app. The app's first page offers a Search function to access City resources, and a link guides you to "CREATE A Service Request."
HOMELESS, UNHOUSED, TRANSIENTS, et al.
Under new laws and legal constraints, people sleeping in vehicles and tents remain a constant thorn for residents and officers. That population thoroughly understand LA's newly relaxed laws and exploits them adroitly, openly challenging LAPD. Eight to nine live in Sunland Park.
LAPD WANT to help. They work to get the unhoused into shelters, housing and substance-abuse programs. Officers have similar experience in their neighborhoods. Yet the result is often a back-and-forth shuffle between corners and parking lots. Free wi-Fi and outdoor electrical outlets are huge attractants that should be shut off. Officer Contreras recently met with a 7-11 owner who sincerely wants to reduce transients' public drunkenness and crime.
Policing homeless must be limited to verifiable CRIMES, not mere annoyances. A CARE Team visits "Library Man" twice weekly. Officer Caloca continually urges him to seek services. However, thwarting all these efforts, gifts of money, food and bedding from enablers encourage him to stay.
Resident Jim Spishak has been speaking with homeless in Sunland Park. During a recent talk, drug dealers emphatically told Jim to leave. Ofcr. Contreras asked for information on the event, which he'll send it to Narcotics, where it will be investigated with records kept of hours and durations spent doing so.
Eve Sinclair, Deputy to Council District 7, said "We have to build our way out of this" by more shelters and housing. She said the homeless problem is due to court decisions. LA must have beds for 60% of our homeless population, per U.S. District Judge David O. Carter. Our Council District has opened 85 new beds for women, is opening another 60 units, and is underway with more.
County Department of Mental Health is working to compensate for mental institutions that have closed. If people with emotional problems affect your life, business or property, contact City Prosecutor Mark Ross re legalities: [email protected]
OVERNIGHT PARKING, SLEEPING IN VEHICLES
LAPD can't impound a vehicle is someone is sleeping in it. When officers request them to move, overnight sleepers may move on to foster cordial relations, or may resist with impunity. City Council did not renew our previous red/yellow/green parking restriction system.
People residing in vehicles on Woodward and Marnice remain a problem. This area will soon be posted as No Overnight or Oversize Parking, which will help a bit. In December, Officer Contreras requested a burned-out vehicle in Lakeview Terrace be removed; still no joy in late January.
We still have many traffic issues and high-speed collisions. DOT will install left turn phasing at McPherson and another soon at Tujunga Canyon Blvd. At least three more Foothill intersection getting improvements.
Councilwoman Rodriguez got $4 million for many traffic measures throughout CD7. These will include large signs flashing speeds of moving cars, pedestrian red lights, and red lights at our LA Fire Station to enable fast and safe exits. Currently, firefighters have to stand on Foothill Bl. to slow down traffic when ambulances or firetrucks exit!
Street vending is more common now that restaurants are closed. If you think a vendor is a public danger, contact COUNTY Health, who have responded in Pacoima. City Street Services has a similar function that responded a few months ago.
Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council President Liliana Sánchez asked Sinclair what happened to the $150 million defunded from LAPD. Council wanted to fix potholes but Mayor vetoed. Sánchez suggests the money go to mental and social services. Since not all of the 150 million has been used, can some be returned to LAPD's HOPE Team?
With lockdowns slashing City sales tax revenues, the City has a $700 million budget shortfall. All departments were mandated to cut 10%, however accomplished. 46 miles of street resurfacing was planned for CD7; now it's only 30.
WANT TO HELP?
Officers reach out to residents, welcoming your input, videos and sharp eyes. They coordinate with each other throughout Foothill Div to reduce crime. You can arm yourselves with precautions and knowledge of your neighbors and neighborhood.
Criminals and predators attack soft targets, so "harden" your home and vehicles with smart products and practices: NEVER leave keys or your electronic fob in your vehicle. That's a common enabler of theft! In your home, lock up and have safety catches on doors and windows. Install motion lights, hi-resolution video cameras and noisy alarm sirens. These needn't be expensive; see the photo.
SIGN UP AS LAPD VOLUNTEERS!
LAPD Volunteer Community Patrol (VCP) do preventive recon, assist at public and PR events, seek out leads, bring in surveillance videos, operate run radar guns in speeding task forces, or any other task not requiring a uniformed officer. Each volunteer hour you provide gives us one more uniformed hour on our streets.
Contact Officer William De La Rosa at [email protected]. As COVID-19 declines, VCP will expand activities.
Many THANKS for caring about our community!
Stay alert for yourselves, your families and neighbors!
Very best regards,
Jon von Gunten
Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Rep to Foothill LAPD's Neighborhood Watch