BAY CITY ARCHIVES — How do you end homelessness in Santa Monica? Lock them all up and “add them to the rock-pile squad.”
That was the plan put forth by the chief of police 100 years ago this month, according to Los Angeles Times archives.
Chief Randall used the acronym “I.W.W.” — short for “I Won’t Workers” — to describe vagrants and he “issued orders to his men to arrest all dissolute loungers,” the Times reported.
Previously, the policy had been to give suspended sentences to the unruly homeless and ask them to leave town. Randall wasn’t having it.
He promised that all “undesirables” would “be taken up on sight” and given “stiff jail sentences,” or forced into hard labor.
“It is also believed to be legal to employ such men on the street work in Santa Monica,” the report said. “There is a lot of repairing to be done on the road between here and Topango.”
Some things do change.
Protesting tree removal in Palisades Park
Other things don’t change.
No less than four articles were written in March and April of 1914 about protests, organized by the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, of a Parks Commission decision to cut down the palm trees in Palisades Park — then called Linda Vista Park.
City Hall wanted to modernize the park but the women’s group called it a “desecration” of the old gardens and a waste of money.
Others said the removal of the trees along the edge of the bluff could open up the possibility of the wealthy landowners “erecting buildings which might obscure the present marine view from the park seats.”
The mayor asked the protesters to withhold judgment and made clear that the work would go on.
Hit-and-run problem? Ban pedestrians
Heres just a few of the Santa Monica automobile injuries reported in newspaper archives in March and April of 1914: A man swerved to avoid a dog and flipped his car. A horse ran into a tandem motorcycle injuring everyone involved. A city employee was killed crossing the street. One driver nicked a curb, causing his car to “turn turtle.” A 14-year-old kid was severely injured after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
Instead of strengthening the speeding law, which “leaks like a sieve,” according to the L.A. Times archive, City Council considered banning pedestrians from crossing several streets.
“The local City Council is not prepared to say that nursemaids ought to be arrested for wheeling their infant charges along the speedway,” an L.A. Times article said. “But the city fathers took the position today that there is plenty of room on the ocean front and other streets without running risk of injury or even death.”
Ye Olde Crime Watch (and firearm failures)
• P.J. Ostergaurd, a rancher who thought he had a chicken thief in the sights of his shotgun, fired off several rounds of birdshot severely wounding what turned out to be his son Elmer. A surgeon fixed young Elmer — who’d been returning home from a party — and noted that his life was saved by his father’s choice to use light rather than heavy birdshot.
• Police found eight sticks of dynamite, percussion caps, and a fuse underneath the Pacific Electric station. The cops believe that Elmer Simmons (no relations to the not-chicken-thief Elmer), a 17-year-old who fled to Mexico, planted the explosives. Simmons was also believed to be behind a dynamite detonation on an abandoned property a few weeks prior. The motive for stealing the dynamite was surmised to be “boyish bravado” with the intent to explode it “just for fun.”
• Cops cracked down on a street gang of 8- to 14-year-old “hoodlums” who terrorized local merchants, stealing bikes and car parts.
• Sergius Apraxin, a wealthy Austrian count, passed a fake check in the city by the sea. Cops didn’t care about his royal blood and locked him in the city jail.
• Arthur Brown, a motion picture actor, was unloading his revolver on the set of an outdoor film studio when he accidentally shot himself in the groin.