The Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners Association welcomed a number of significant local officials to its annual meeting Wednesday. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavksy, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, City Councilman Paul Koretz and LAPD Senior Lead Officer Rashad Sharif each took turns addressing members of the group at the social hall at St. Timothy's Catholic Church on Pico Boulevard.
Concerns from the crowd, which filled the hall, included billboard nuisances and homelessness. Homeowners President Barbara Broide announced the success of last week’s appeal of the cell installation proposal at the nearby Masonic Lodge, long considered a nuisance by group members due to problems with parking, excessive noise and unruly crowds.
A hot topic was the electronic billboards along Wilshire Boulevard and mobile billboards—attached to cars and bikes—throughout the neighborhood. Trutanich said that his office is responsible for removing 1,000 problem billboards in LA.
“We enforce the law,” said Trutanich.
However, he pointed out, the billboards earn $6,000 a month. If the billboard companies get fined $1,000 for keeping the billboards up, they don't have a lot of incentive to remove them.
Trutanich stressed that the companies that do business with the city must follow the law, otherwise they will be arrested or cited for mobile billboards, which are often parked on city streets. He is working with lawmakers in Sacramento to ban the advertisers from merely moving their signage two feet in order to avoid parking citations. Some of the signs are credited with causing a traffic nuisance.
Koretz also chimed in on the issue of billboards, saying in reply to a woman in the audience with a 9-year old daughter, that if a billboard has inappropriate content, his office will try to get the company to
remove the billboard on a case-by-case basis.
“There is nothing legally we can do about the content," Koretz said.
Yaroslavsky brought the community up to date on the Exposition Rail Line, which is expected to open next fall, citing the tax measure funding the line, along with the many jobs it will create.
Sharif ended the meeting cautioning residents about potential burglaries during the summer months. He recommended that residents close their home and car windows, install alarm systems and be more aware in general. Even though the West Los Angeles area still has relatively low crime rates, he said, even leaving your house for 10 minutes to walk the dog could give a burglar an opportunity.
Sharif also addressed the issue of homelessness, pointing out that his officers have limited options.
“[According to] the city attorney’s office, it’s not a crime to be homeless,” Sharif said.
He added that residents can go to the LAPD website and email the department's homeless detail with information about the locations of homeless people. Officers will investigate and determine whether the person in question is doing something illegal, for example blocking the sidewalk, warranting a citation.