04/06/06 By JJ Popowich

Over the last year the WNC has been working with stakeholders, the LAPD, Park Rangers, and Recreation & Parks to address problems at Runnymede Park.

LAPD Senior Lead Officer Raigoza has been instrumental in helping the WNC clean the park up. Through her efforts we’ve been able to arrange well over 30 hours of Vice and Bike Patrols. The results have been arrests for gambling and public drunkenness. Stakeholders in the area have noted the improvement as well.

The newest problem to pop up at the park are reports of loitering near the Gifford Street entrance. The Public Safety Committee held a hearing earlier this year and voted to request the entrance be closed. The request has been sent to the Department of Recreation and Parks, but they have expressed some concerns.

The Parks feels that the closure is a drastic measure that should be a last resort. This is an issue the WNC wrestled with in our public hearing. We had hoped that more stakeholders would have attended to express their opinions about the closure. Unfortunately there were only a very few who showed. The problem with this entrance and the loitering is that the LAPD can only do so much. The laws that apply to loitering require the officers to provide a warning first. If the individuals move on, then they can’t arrest them. Those that have been observed loitering always disperse willingly. This is the reason the LAPD recommended we close the entrance.

The WNC will continue to work on this issue and negotiate solutions with the LAPD and Recreation & Parks. However, if you still see issues at this park and are truly interested in resolving the problems then we urge you to come to our meetings and work with us to address the communities concerns. The five committee members can not do it alone.