Theft victim finds only frustration, confusion

It was warm, sunny and beautiful on March 12 when, just before 2 p.m., I parked my shiny, like-new, little red folding bicycle — with black fenders and Snoopy bell — in front of the Mar Vista Library at the corner of Venice and Inglewood boulevards, adjacent to the fire station.

After locking my bike securely to the library’s bike rack in the only space left between the other bikes, as an extra precaution I also removed my saddle and took it with me into the library, where I attended a computer class. After all, who’d want a bike without a seat, I thought.

After class, at about 3:30 p.m., I was astounded to find that somebody had stolen my bike.

In shock and disbelief, I went back inside the library to report the theft (on library property). A librarian called the police. After the librarian made her report, I asked her to please pass the telephone to me so that I might speak to the officer myself. She refused, saying I had to go to the police station to file a report.

Feeling victimized, frustrated and helpless at the mercy of such a seemingly ho-hum attitude, I explained to the librarian that the bicycle was my transportation — so how was I supposed to get there? Hearing no suggestions, I walked home.

Back home at 4:30 p.m., I dug out an old telephone book and found a non-emergency number for the LAPD, (877) ASK-LAPD, and dialed. Somebody answered, and my call was forwarded to the Pacific Division. Then the phone rang and rang, but nobody answered. I called the ASK line again. This time, the call was directed by computer to Pacific Division. Again, no answer.

By now it was 5 p.m., and I called again. Finally, a woman answered. “Has my report been filed?” I asked.  She told me, “Someone is on the way.”  I made sure they had my home address as well as the library’s, and I also reminded her that I am now waiting at home.  She assured me that someone was on the way. I waited. And waited. Nobody showed up.

Finally, at 12:45 a.m. — unable to sleep not knowing whether a police report had been filed — I called Pacific again and talked with a very nice officer who managed to assure me that a report had been filed.

The next day, I had a flyer put up at the library and walked across the street to ask whether the fire station security camera might have taken a picture of the theft. I was told there were no security cameras for the library or the fire station.

On March 19, I called the Pacific Division again to follow up. However, an officer could not find a report on file. I went in to the police station and, in my presence, that officer filled out a report form, which I signed, and a copy of same was given to me. He then advised me to call back in 48 hours to get a report number — which I, of course, did do.

The next day, March 20, there appeared in The Argonaut a story about police cracking down on a bike theft ring operating out of the Ballona Wetlands.

According to that article, “a recent sweep of the Wetlands recovered 15 stolen bicycles and four handguns, according to the Sheriff’s Dept. … There have been multiple arrests in connection with the stolen bicycles, but not all details are being made available because the criminal investigation remains active, Sgt. Anthony Earnest said.”

I called the Sheriff’s Dept. and asked, “Could my bike perhaps be one of the 15 bikes that were recovered?”

“I don’t know where they got that information,” the deputy answered.

Renee Aubry
Mar Vista

Support for alcohol compliance unit needed

Last week, the Los Angeles city Planning and Land Use Management Committee continued a discussion about establishing a permanent Condition Compliance Unit that would proactively enforce occupancy conditions the city has placed on outlets that sell alcohol. It’s a decision that will have a direct impact on public health and safety in Venice.

The Condition Compliance Unit would be a team tasked to do proactive work to ensure all bars, restaurants and stores selling alcohol comply with the specific rules established by the city that regulate an establishment’s operational practices, including hours, capacity and parking.

These conditions are crafted to preserve communities’ integrity and safety. They establish specific operational standards deemed to be optimal for the surrounding area. They are not designed to overburden businesses with regulation. Rather, they support businesses and the community by making the areas surrounding an alcohol-related business more appealing for visitors and residents.

Without this Condition Compliance Unit, there is no proactive compliance monitoring system in place in Venice or throughout the city of Los Angeles, for that matter. Current enforcement is complaint-driven, and resources for this are scarce.

We are a community group working to reduce harms related to alcohol in Venice. It is not our contention that alcohol retailers in Venice are bad businesses, or even that they are intentionally violating the terms of their conditional use permits. However, it is a fact that, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s guidelines, Venice has an undue concentration of alcohol outlets. A great deal of research links alcohol outlet density to a range of problems, from violent crime and traffic crashes to public nuisance activities like littering, loitering, vandalism and noise.

Regular compliance checks are proven to be one of the best mechanisms for reducing problems in areas densely populated with businesses that sell or serve alcohol.

The Condition Compliance Unit would provide this form of proactive enforcement. It also would ensure that enforcement is systematic and fair. The result would be a safer and more livable Venice.

To voice your support for the CCU, please email the Venice Neighborhood Council at secretary@venicenc.org.

To contact the Westside Impact Coalition email impact@publicstrategies.org.

Sarah Blanch
Project Manager, Institute for Public Strategies Culver City

Eat like you’re in Eden

TV host Glenn Beck and other stalwarts of the Christian right have attacked the recent blockbuster “Noah” as being “pro-animal” and unfaithful to the Bible. Well, yes and no. The film is both pro-animal and faithful to the Bible, at least to the Book of Genesis, our only source for the story of Noah.

After all, Genesis 1:29 admonishes, “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit — to you it shall be for food.” It is only after the flood, with fruits and vegetables no longer abundant, that humans get permission to eat animal flesh. Even then, the Bible stipulates that lives of only select animals may be taken and always with reverence and minimal cruelty. This is certainly a far cry from today’s factory farm and slaughterhouse practices.

Regardless of how we may feel about the interpretation of the Bible in “Noah,” each of us can recreate the recommended diet of the Garden of Eden in our home by dropping animal products from our menu.

Steve Prosky
Marina Del Rey

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