LAPD Cutbacks Threaten Safety on Ballona Creek Trail

12_10_08_ballona.jpg
This Mural by the Overland Avenue Entrance Has Had Its Problems with Grafitti

Tomorrow evening, Councilman Bill Rosendahl will host a town hall meeting with LAPD Chief William Bratton for the community to voice it’s concerns about a plan to cut the Pacific Division police Department by 35 officers or about 15% of the entire force.  The Pacific Division is the one responsible for policing the Ballona Creek Bike Trail, and bike and trail activists are concerned that such major cuts will result in a major setback to the efforts to make the trail more safe for the pedestrians and cyclists that use it as well as those people who live adjacent to it.

If you can’t make tomorrow night’s meeting, please leave a comment below and I’ll forward them to the Councilman’s staff.  To read their media release on tomorrow’s meeting, read on after the jump.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl and Police Chief William Bratton will hold
a Town Hall meeting to discuss the deployment issues of Police Officers
from Westside area police stations.

The deployment will definitely impact us in Westchester,
Playa del Rey and Playa Vista as our Pacific Area station will see a
reduction of up to 35 sworn officers
as the LAPD reassigns
officers from throughout the City to staff up two new LAPD stations in
the West Valley and Koreatown. The NCWP urges everyone to attend this
meeting to voice your concern. The quality of life and safety in our
community depend on it.

Who: Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl Chief William Bratton, Los Angeles Police Department

When: 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where: Felicia Mahood Senior Citizen Center Auditorium 11338 Santa Monica Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90025

What: Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and LAPD Chief
William Bratton will hold a town hall meeting to discuss deployment
issues on the Westside.

The LAPD plans to shift officers from stations around the City to
staff two new police stations opening next month in the West Valley and
Koreatown. Bratton and LAPD top brass will explain how officer
deployment decisions are made and report the statistical crime history
in Rosendahl’s district and how it relates to overall Citywide
operations. Rosendahl will moderate a question and answer period for
the public following LAPD’s presentation.

Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

  • The title of this post is funny, because it implies that the LAPD’s coverage of the Ballona Bike Path is somehow stopping assault and robbery from occurring. Pre-withdrawal of the troops from the Westside, assault and robbery on this trail happen with some regularity!

    The LAPD pulling out of the area are likely going to have no effect on the bike path, as it is a lawless hinterland already.

    When the cops leave, what are we in for? Lord of the Flies, hogs heads on pikes, and cannibalism? We’re practically there already, right? Maybe we need fewer police – that way the underworld can establish a hierarchy which will bring some modicum of peace to the bike path.

  • Brian Treanor

    ubray,

    While you post is clever, you can’t be serious.

    Brian

  • KateNonymous

    The city should be working to make things better on the Ballona Creek Trail, not worse. Seems like a great opportunity for interagency cooperation with Culver City, doesn’t it? (I know, I know.)

    It’s hard enough to find a way to bike on the Westside as it is, unless you’re already experienced at biking through the hazards of traffic. Ballona Creek provides an easy, protected route for novice cyclists and others who want to reach the coast without battling with cars.

    The answer should not be to abandon this area to the criminals.

  • I was only partly serious.

    The LAPD presence has been non-existent on this bike path, correct? So if that changes to … the LAPD presence being non-existent, then where does that leave us?

    Things won’t get better, but will they get worse?

    Maybe looking to law enforcement on this one isn’t going to work – since they are obviously going to move their troops regardless of how many “town hall” meetings Rosendahl holds with Chief Bratton.

    So, what are we, as both cyclists and concerned neighbors going to do? It seems that this bike path has a problem associated with a particular down-on-its luck housing project and surrounding neighborhood. Is there any way to engage residents to improve living conditions that drive young men to loiter and beat up strangers?

    This isn’t an easy path to travel, but neither is the Ballona Bike Path.

  • Joe

    LOL @ Bray’s post… look out for cannibals! Frankly I thought the same thing… the service can’t get much worse than it already is.

  • “So, what are we, as both cyclists and concerned neighbors going to do? It seems that this bike path has a problem associated with a particular down-on-its luck housing project and surrounding neighborhood. Is there any way to engage residents to improve living conditions that drive young men to loiter and beat up strangers?” bray

    Awesome thinking. That is what should be done not slapping a bandaid on a problem (put a bunch of cops along the trail, so they just go somewhere else and becomes another person’s problem,) but go to the root of the problem and put in some after school programs and jobs of course that would take not simply thinking about yourself, but thinking about other people in the long term helps you more than just being me oriented…

    I think that’s what society should really be focused on more broad answers to questions instead of the simple and pointless solution.

    Browne

  • KateNonymous

    “It seems that this bike path has a problem associated with a particular down-on-its luck housing project and surrounding neighborhood. Is there any way to engage residents to improve living conditions that drive young men to loiter and beat up strangers?”

    Very true. It’s not just people on the path who are having problems, after all. The surrounding neighborhood is troubled, and I have no doubt that the majority of people living there are also being menaced by a small minority. Ultimately everyone should be able to live in a safe neighborhood, regardless of income bracket.

  • Damn, you guys are taking me seriously? Um, I don’t know where to go from here …

    What could really be done to get these young men to stop beating people up and taking their things on this bike path and in the surrounding area?

    I think that any ideas should be: super duper CHEAP (i.e. require $0), and also require a minimal amount of time.

    Maybe a mini-flood of guerilla gardening, free bike repair, and some F.U.N. that allows non-white, non-art-scene, people to have some fun and realize that beating up bicyclists is stupid for two reasons: (1) they are making your area nicer; and (2) they are typically broke as a joke.

    That is my 10-seconds worth of thought towards a solution.

    If this is such an important issue to ballona bike path riders, then I’d think a little bit of regular (fun) community work (without political minders, cops, nor politicians around) might help find out who is beating people down and help to put an end to it.

  • The day (or night) I get jumped biking the creek you can bet I’ll eat my words, but until then I’ll just have to respectfully dispute descriptions of the bikeway as a “lawless hinterland” and argue that demoting it as such — be it half serious or full tongue-in-cheek — doesn’t do the place any favors.

    Certainly there have been incidents that have increased its negative profile, but from my perspective of the past four months commuting back and forth on it between Duquesne and Inglewood Blvd without incident on practically a weekdaily basis, Ballona Creek has shown me its kinder, gentler side.

    PS. While the Duquesne mural is often targeted by taggers, the photo leading this post is of the heavily defaced once-beautiful “Postcards from Ballona” mural at the Overland Avenue entrance to the creek bikeway.

  • “Maybe a mini-flood of guerilla gardening, free bike repair, and some F.U.N. that allows non-white, non-art-scene, people to have some fun and realize that beating up bicyclists is stupid for two reasons: (1) they are making your area nicer; and (2) they are typically broke as a joke.” ubray

    Yes, a nonagenda oriented activity for the young men down there I bet that would actually work. I’m sure it would actually work. A completely alturistic program for the people who live in the projects the pouring cops in never worked in the 80s or 90s, so why not try something different this time.

    Even if no one ever gets jacked again, that would still be a nice thing to do.

    Browne

  • I think in LA we have to stop being so reactionary. When a problem arises we should think, “hmmm, what is causing this problem.” And then work on that. In LA too often in the past we treated street crime like a person who has major back problems and then ends up a drug fiend because of all the medication poured down their throat to mask the problem rather than fix the problem.

    The cure in LA has always been COPS and cops in LA have been notorious at being assholes and overreacting and making things worse, maybe just this once when the economy gets shitty we’ll not always go to the LAPD solution. I think the heavy hand of the LAPD always leads to burning, looting and destruction, because every kid that fits the description is going to be harassed to death because of one asshole who is causing problems and everyone is already frustrated at their lack of a job and a future and I don’t think anyone wants that. If we were in a recession in 1992 when certain parts of the city where set on fire what would happen this time when we are in 1930s conditions?

    I call for a kinder and gentler economic collapse this time around.

  • Brian

    My half-hearted poke at ubray, and his (or her) kind response has actually generated some good thoughts here. Nice!

    A few things to add to the mix, coming from someone with family in local law enforcement.

    (1) It is true that many of the folks in the Gardens are also victims here. The projects have long had a “no tolerance policy” that evicts all residents of any unit on which a warrant is served. Thus, many of the bangers have moved to other residences to prevent their families from being evicted. The problem is they still consider Mar Vista Gardens their turf and they still do ‘business’ there even though they live elsewhere. Of course, there are some problem residents in Mar Vista Gardens, but many of the folks there would also, I suspect, consider the various gangs a problem.

    (2) Problematically, perhaps because of tough economic times, perhaps because of random cycles of violence, there has been a significant upswing in serious (e.g., more serious than just a mugging on the path) gang activity in the area. Like Will, I am a regular commuter on the path, back and forth from Culver City at least once, and often twice, a day. My experience has been nothing but positive for the past year. However, from what has happened in the past few months on the path, and what I’ve heard happening in other places in the area, I must admit that I am dreading the proverbial drop of the other shoe.

    I understand there may be another Tour de Ballona in January. I hope you all can participate, and that you will bring the good humor and creative ideas evident on this thread.

    Brian

  • One thing to keep in mind: gangs are as much a part of Los Angeles’ fabric as anything else in this city. View them as bad, or evil incarnate – it really doesn’t matter. They’re here to stay.

    So, why not just work with what we’ve got and try and make living conditions more humane and less likely to lead people to want to beat up strangers on bicycles (and in general).

    I can’t say that I will be able to physically transport myself to this area to regularly work to improve things. However, I don’t think it will be wasted time to do something nice for people in the area. It is, after all in the interest of tracking down the fools who hurt people and making sure that random violence is not an easy thing to commit.

    Systematic violence on the other hand … that is for another thread.

  • Travis Sevilla

    This path is a great asset to the community as a whole and is grossly under policed. It seems to be a problem of the Pacific Division being responsible for the “path” and LAPD as well as Culver City PD are responsible for some of the neighboring communities. This leaves us with a “you get it” mentality where no department wants to deal with the path. A regular police presence would make the path safer for pedestrians, families, cyclists, and bicycle commuters who need to use this path in order to avoid busy/dangerous streets during rush hour. We have a great resource in the Ballona Creek path. Please do all you can to keep it safe and fun for everyone.

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