Westchester residents continue to battle to reclaim Westchester Park and its parking lots. Located at Lincoln Avenue and Manchester, close to the airport, that area of the park also contains a senior center, a library and one of Councilman Mike Bonin’s District offices (7166 W. Manchester Ave.).
Now residents learned that Bonin has hired a private security company, GSG Protective Services, for his offices.
In the parking lot that serves the three buildings, homeless have taken over. Residents have to climb over belongings that are strewn about and also have to deal with some people who may have mental issues just to access the library or senior center.
The parking lot on the other side of the senior center, nearest the airport, is still used for a Safe Parking program site, an 18-month pilot program instituted in 2016.
But in 2021, Bonin sent a letter to Rec and Parks stating the program should be left in place through July 4, 2022. (visit: https://www.circlingthenews.com/safe-parking-effectiveness/)
Residents have sent photos to CTN that show that the majority of the spaces are not used and the guard that is supposed to open and close the area because cars are supposed to exit during the day, is often absent.
The main problem, according to residents, is those living in vehicles park in other areas of the city parking lot, so they don’t have to move their vehicles.
Families worry about the safety of kids and seniors, and today, one resident found out that Mike Bonin must feel similarly.
Most constituents no longer go in person to the Councilman’s offices, because there’s “a really scary homeless person who lives by it.”
Today when the transient was gone, a constituent went to the public office building. It was locked, but there was a guard inside.
The person knocked on the door and the guard opened it a crack. When the constituent asked to see Bonin, the guard told them they needed to make an appointment. The person asked why there was a security detail, and the guard said, “because of all of the homeless.”
CTN contacted Bonin’s office to ask why a private security company was guarding his office, and who pays for the private security. When an answer is received this story will be updated.
LETTER TO PARK COMMISSIONERS:
(Editor’s note: A resident sent the following letter to the L.A. City Recreation and Park Commissioners for its June 2 meeting and shared it with Circling the News.)
Honorable RAP Commissioners,
I am a 30-year resident of Westchester. My husband and I raised our three children here. Over the past few years, we have watched Westchester Park become a large homeless encampment with tent and vehicle dwellers and an LAPD crime hotspot. The park became unsafe for seniors and youth, as well as all others, because of the danger presented.
The tent encampments have been removed from the park, but we still have vehicle dwellers in the parking lots of the park, and we have a Safe Parking program that uses less than 25 of the 50 parking spots of the parking lot next to the ball fields and the recreation pool ( click here) as is reported by LAHSA. That Safe Parking program is underutilized and has eight or fewer cars in the lot each night.
Our community and surrounding communities need these parking spaces, and they need a park that is safe for them.
Please see the hundreds of letters in the attached google drive (the file is too big for email) click here . They reflect the concern of our community, who have been waiting for over two years to be able to safely use the park.
We ask that you deny any request by our Council Office to extend or expand the Safe Parking permit, and that you help in any way you can to help clear the parking lots of homeless vehicle dwellers.
Our Council Member [Mike Bonin] has had two years to find other locations, and now LAX has 50 Safe Parking spots which can be used by the few who use the Safe Parking lot in Westchester Park. Our Councilmember has the staff and authority to find locations for the vehicle dwellers to park as well.
We have recently been informed by an LAPD officer that Bonin has armed security at his office at the park. Therefore, we believe it is clear he recognizes the danger and seeks his own personal safety. We also ask that RAP arrange for armed security for the ball fields, the senior center, and other facilities within the park, such as the tennis courts and recreation pool for our safety, too.
Our community and surrounding communities need our park. Thank you for your consideration.