(Editor’s Note: This is Part I of a series documenting the struggles of Los Angeles small business owners as they attempt to get help from City Hall to keep their employees safe from aggressive, mentally ill homeless people and unsanitary encampments.)
On Saturday afternoon, a business owner in his 50s was stabbed to death during an attempted robbery on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Two teens were taken into custody. Unfortunately, this type of story has become all too common in the City of Angels, and in this report, we discuss how criminals have taken over formerly safe neighborhoods and businesses.
RedState recently brought you the saga of Sherman Oaks, California restaurant owner Paul Scrivano, whose Blue Dog Beer Tavern has been plagued by aggressive homeless people right outside his business who expose themselves, defecate in the street, and even throw feces at him. Scrivano has long felt that the Los Angeles City Councilwoman who serves his district, Nithya Raman, has done nothing to help.
Sherman Oaks is an upscale area of Los Angeles where the median home price is $1.6 million (a whopping $500 to $800 per square foot!)
Scrivano’s story made national news, but he isn’t the only person experiencing this hell. Take the plight of Angela Marsden, the Los Angeles bar owner who, it seems, the City and County of LA are desperate to put out of business. Why do I say that? Because during the pandemic, they forced her to shutter her doors and her outdoor dining area, yet they let a movie production use the parking lot for catering. Her tear-filled video stunned the nation as it exposed the hypocrisy and deviousness of California’s COVID policies:
Watch this video, folks. Sound on. pic.twitter.com/Oo6LMdmE1p
— Spencer A. Klavan (@SpencerKlavan) December 4, 2020
Since COVID has become endemic and life has largely returned to normal, do you think Angela’s life has gotten any easier? Nope. Now she’s plagued by violent homeless people who harass her patrons and staff while the same local government that’s ignored Paul Scrivano’s challenges turns a blind eye.
“People are afraid to come out,” she told Fox News. “They’re afraid to spend their money here. They’re afraid to come here. We’re losing money. Every single small business in Sherman Oaks is losing money.”
Marsden pleaded for assistance for her staff and customers in a September 10 email (exclusively obtained by RedState) to Councilwoman Raman and others:
I deal with these unsanitary, unsafe, and quick frankly traumatizing events on a weekly basis. To the point that I don’t even go into my bar at night because I don’t feel safe. …I had a bartender trying to get a homeless woman out of the ladies’ bathroom, my bartender was brutally attacked, the woman was biting her, scratching at her eyes and hitting her. The police were called, nothing ever happened to her.
I personally have been attacked physically… I was told [by the police] that there was nothing I could do, they advised me not to try to remove the homeless, as I could get sued…They have defecated right in front of our back door and the hamburger shop next door… One evening a man with a Samurai sword was out front swinging the sword and threatening people, we had to lock everyone in and call the police.…
The people we have in my shopping center are transients, drug addicts, meth dealers, and some mentally ill…I am afraid for the safety of my staff, my customers, and myself. And the extra expense on top of sales going down is making it nearly impossible to survive…
Please start helping us. [Emphasis mine.]
None of these clearly disturbed people faced consequences for their criminal behavior. Marsden’s pleas, like that of her fellow restauranteurs, seemed to fall on deaf ears. Councilwoman Raman was more concerned about bad press than about actually doing something to fix the problem. She complained that after Fox News reported on the Scrivano situation that she became the victim of harassment:
Fox News host Jesse Watters has now attacked me two nights in a row on his show.
Here’s a sample of the messages I received during yesterday’s broadcast. (thread) pic.twitter.com/tXQGinRX5S
— Nithya Raman (@nithyavraman) September 23, 2022
Telling the truth on television—how dare they!
I visited Pineapple Hill on Wednesday and asked a bartender whether she’d been hassled by the homeless. “All the time,” she replied. I also spoke with a man at the bar who only wished to be identified as Mark. He told me about the group of campers that were parked right across the street in the leafy suburban neighborhood, adding that the occupants also seemed to be part of a motorcycle gang who liked to fire up their souped-up Harleys at 5 AM. Could you imagine paying $2 million to live in a pleasant family community only to be blasted out of bed each morning by thunderous engines? He told me:
I witnessed a young man come out of a motor home that’s still parked [across the street…] and he walked over to a lawn area…and he proceeded to take out a little white pill and a piece of tin foil and a lighter and a short straw, and he put the pill on the tin foil, and he lit it from the bottom so it started to vaporize, and then he was sucking the vapors in with a straw… And I was talking with a policeman, and he said, yeah, that’s fentanyl. This place here, this motorhome is dealing…
You can tell, these kids look like they’re nodding out, and they’re stuttering around…
The yellow circle is the Pineapple Grill, the pink line indicates RV encampments and Harleys, while the green line indicates a smaller nearby camp, all within a few hundred yards of each other. Note the surrounding home values.
After I spoke to Mark, I walked over to the corner myself, and sure enough, there was a phalanx of dilapidated motorhomes and a few motorbikes. Able-bodied men loitered around the open door of one of the campers; they didn’t seem down on their luck. Jarringly, as I drove further around the neighborhood, I encountered kids on bikes and moms with strollers, all enjoying the afternoon sun, oblivious to the filth and possible drug deals going down just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
This photo shows only a couple of the campers, but there were at least six. It might not look that dramatic at first glance—but would you like decrepit RVs with no sewage hookups and people living in them permanently parked outside your house? Sherman Oaks is in what’s known as the San Fernando Valley, which has been the bucolic home of families and sitcoms like the Brady Bunch for years. The Brady kids would need to be kept inside if they lived there now.
State and local leaders have allowed San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and even San Diego to descend into chaos, danger, and unsanitary conditions. Councilwoman Raman was offended that RedState’s Jennifer Oliver O’Connell likened LA’s city streets to those in Calcutta. The problem with Raman’s faux outrage is that O’Connell is right—many parts of Los Angeles have become just as bad as slums in developing nations.
California’s leaders have failed small business owners. Angela Marsden and Paul Scrivano are just two of many battling worse than third-world conditions outside their establishments.
@Elex_Michaelson good story about the business owners in sherman oaks dealing with the homeless crisis! My business also losses money! Homeless vandalize us weekly. Spent $1,000s so far. Very frustrated. Love to see more stories like this! Thanks @FOXLA
— Bob Johnson (@L7tothemax) September 27, 2022
It does seem that the government is doing its best to throttle small businesses. The proof is in the fact that many of those owners are getting the hell out of Cali. Those who stay pay dearly to do so.
Part II, coming soon: How California’s laws and regulations are strangling small businesses like Angela’s.