If you live in the Melrose/Fairfax district then you’ve probably been affected in some way (or know someone that has) by prolific trespassers and squatters. Some swear that the proliferation of “McMansions” is the chief cause of these encampments. Could the unprecedented amount of homes and apartment buildings sitting vacant for extending periods of time awaiting demolition be harboring unsavory characters in our neighborhood? A majority of neighbors near these properties say resoundingly — yes in fact they are. Some are quick to point out that the new construction of homes — that typically last several months — play a larger role because they offer new, unmonitored premisses, free access to electrical power, portable restrooms, and even brand-new swimming pools,spas, and roof top decks.
Anywhere in the area that a home or building is vacant for a time — chances are — trespassers, transients, squatters etc have either scaled a fence, broken down a door, or smashed a window to gain entry to that property and set up shop.
Neighbors on either side of Melrose Ave say that they’ve seen encampments on top of garages underneath low hanging trees, underneath occupied homes in crawl spaces, behind garages of homes, residing on outdoor furniture at night, living inside vehicles parked along Waring or Willoughby, in the alley ways, hot-wiring electricity in some cases, and so much more.
The bigger question is — are these people dangerous? Are they committing crimes? Using drugs? Having sex on our property? Are they entering our homes when our back doors or windows are open and unattended? Again — the answer more likely is — its very possible. Why? Because this area is a transient urban area and some neighbors have no clue who lives here and who doesn’t. Piling on to the “transient” theme is the phenomenon that so many homes and apartments are now full time Airbnb night-to-night hotel-like rentals and you can see that it only gets more difficult to gain a grip on who’s an actual neighbor and who isn’t.
What can you do to protect yourself? First and foremost — call the police if you see unusual, repetitive activity around properties that are empty, new or old. Notify our community cop — our Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officer Inga Wecker and or our L.A. City Attorney Neighborhood Prosecutor Nooshi Zahiri. Contact the L.A. department of building and safety if homes or buildings under construction are not secured properly when unattended. Always check your property when you return home or before you go to sleep at night. Look for tampering of your door locks, windows or garages. Keep your fences maintained and your trees and shrubs trimmed. Install motion lights in your yards. Have a good security system. Think about a security camera system. Adopt a dog from a shelter for added safety. Try and get to know your neighbors. Keep your car doors locked at all times. Walk the area with your mobile devices hidden. The adage goes “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING”! Be part of the solution, not the problem.
Click on the video (or link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OCpmcYzmho&t=26s) below to see what’s been prowling around yards and homes in the 700, 800, and 900 blocks of Vista St. Be sure to attend our first Meeting on Crime this Tuesday, March 21st at 7:30 p.m. at the Blu Jam Cafe. Click here for more info