The Pico Youth & Family Center town hall meeting was held last week and the center was standing room only. Unfortunately, there was only one elected official present.

Many ideas were shared and much was discussed regarding the organization’s current situation. The value of the organization to the Pico Neighborhood, recent killings, the expectation of more, the cuts in funding, regional collaboration and “out of the box” planning to stay alive were the key talking points.

One very visible and energetic young lady who is an advocate from the Venice area cut right to the chase and described the need for PYFC and other like-minded social service organizations in the Westside to unite. Gang violence cannot be stopped by holding just one end of the rope in Santa Monica. The elected from each municipality must realize this, unite, and, in a sense of urgency, call upon the county, state and federal government to fund a regional base of power (not police), stronger than what the gangs wield.

It appears that the entire Westside is becoming so caught up in the “come look at us” glitz and glory aimed at tourists that the elected are grossly missing the call to invest in a regional-size attempt to stem street terror. The answers are there. Like I said, there was only one Santa Monica elected in the crowd. That is two less than the three city staff sent to monitor the monthly PYFC board meetings and one more than the person our board has asked three times to meet with us — the city manager.

While there may not be a way to keep a young person from self-destructing and taking innocent victims with him, gang violence is more predictable and approachable and PYFC and these other organizations have been asking for the “fix” for years. Basically, that “fix” is education, plain and simple. Ask Father Boyle at Homeboy Industries. But like the young lady said, we have always been forced to “do more with less” all along.

Well, her words ring real true because PYFC has been cut by approximately $100,000 and there is no outcry for fairness to the citizenry who witness this form of street terror, only criticism and bad press of an organization that is trying to build a better city.


Francisco Juarez

Director, board member

Pico Youth & Family Center

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