Some Santa Monica property owners posted a sign in a busy shopping area saying the coastal California city “is not safe” because of crime and homelessness.
“We’ve had enough,” Jessica Rogers, a member of the Santa Monica Coalition, told KTTV-TV about the sign which is displayed on Santa Monica’s famed Third Street Promenade and reads, “Santa Monica is not safe. Crime, depravity, outdoor mental asylum.”
“We’re using free speech as a way to raise awareness and let people know this is actually the truth about Santa Monica,” Rogers added.
Rising crime has been a consistent issue in Los Angeles County in recent years, and while Santa Monica Police figures show that “serious crimes” are holding steady in the upscale beach city, “Part 2” crimes that include simple assault, vandalism and narcotics were up 8% in the first 6 months of this year, according to a report from Santa Monica Daily Press.
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A study released by SafeWise earlier this year ranked Santa Monica as one of the least safe cities in California. The city, home of several high-profile celebrities and tourist attractions like the iconic Santa Monica Pier, placed 224 out of 230 in the ranking.
In April, the United States Postal Service temporarily suspended service to a Santa Monica neighborhood not far from where the sign was posted after several attacks on postal workers.
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“Day and night, the promenade has turned into a mental asylum,” John Alle, also with the Santa Monica Coalition, said about the crime and homelessness on the promenade. “Very very sick people who need to be institutionalized and need medical help. It’s very sad.”
“There’s sex workers here. There’s drug dealing in the open, 8, 9 a.m. in the morning, 10, 11 p.m. at night. We have four to five people dying a month in the alleys from overdoses of fentanyl.”
Not everyone in the area was pleased with the group’s gesture, including Andrew Thomas, CEO of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., who told the outlet that the sign is counterproductive.
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“Putting up signage like that I find to be very harmful to our business community, to our reputation, and really runs counter to the experience that thousands and thousands of people are having when they come visit our downtown every single day,” Thomas said.
The city of Santa Monica also expressed frustration with the sign in a statement outlining the work the city has done to combat crime and homelessness including adding more security officers.
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“We care deeply about the success of Santa Monica businesses. It’s sad that a small group of landlords are working against our collective success through signage at the very moment when small businesses are welcoming holiday customers,” the statement said.
The Santa Monica Police Department, which is facing a record shortage of officers due primarily to a surge in retirements and lack of recruits, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.
Homeless encampments are a common sighting in Santa Monica especially along the beach in the area known as “No Man’s Land” between Santa Monica and neighboring Venice Beach where authorities have recently attempted to clear out the encampments.
A report released in September estimated that nearly 70,000 homeless people are living on L.A. County streets, a 4% increase from 2020.