Here are some crime prevention tips from Senior Lead Officer John Catalano from the North Hollywood division of the LAPD.
What's happening in NOHO lately is no doubt a complaint throughout the city. Narcotic use has and will always be a major factor related to crime. As time goes on, I think it is safe to say we are losing the war on drugs and an increase in crime is starting to appear after a decade of continuous reduction.
Narcotics are a larger issue here than most areas because of a combination of factors. North Hollywood is an area that has seen incredible growth over the years. This is a direct result of the completion of the MTA Red and Orange lines. Along with the incredible amount of people who use public transportation, our area’s residential and commercial community continues to grow.
The good news is the area property values continue to increase. Surrounding areas of the MTA are in great demand. Even with the collapse of real estate market in 2008, small single family bungalows that are in walking distance to the Red Line are being bought up for unbelievable amounts of money by investors and developers, only to be torn down to make room for more high density housing. The continuous building of multi-unit residential projects has no sign of slowing down for many years to come.
The most alarming sign of narcotic activity is directly related to the abandoned properties surrounding the MTA. Along with the numerous vacant buildings, we are discovering a huge amount of discarded needles, illegal squatters and an increase in crime in the neighborhood.
The vacant properties are causing serious problem issues of blight and concerns for public safety in the neighborhood. The vacant properties have not only provided temporary shelter for many of the area transients, but the empty shells have become open “shooting galleries" for people who have relocated from all over the city. We are seeing many new narcotic users and transients from outside the area now ending up in vacant units throughout the NoHo area.
It’s not the current property owners complaining of the "new" squatters. Most absentee owners don't care or are completely unaware until the property is ready to be demolished. It’s the residents, the families residing on the same streets as these properties that are seeing people enter vacant units throughout the day and night for a place to sleep or just to get high. As we search the abandoned properties, the number of squatters and discarded needles is alarming.
Over the last few months, I have made it a priority to work closely with the new property owners as well as the other city resources available to help rectify this serious issue. We have been very successful and the majority of vacant properties has been or will be demolished very soon. This should help clean up the neighborhood blight as well as assist us with crime reduction for the area.
Senior Lead Officer
Los Angeles Police Department
North Hollywood Area
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A Profile on LAPD Senior Lead Officer John Catalano
Since the advent of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which brought the subway to L.A. County in 2000, a change has been on the rise in the NoHo Arts District. On its way to being a transit community, in large part due to the subway bringing in 34,000 people daily, the Arts District is steadily growing with more restaurants, theaters, apartments, dance and recording studios, and even a farmer’s market peppering an area that used to be plagued with gangs and graffiti. But while the ushering in of a well-received arts community has upgraded the popularity and property values of the community, the upgrade has fallen short regarding some of the moral values people have in and around the growing neighborhood.