My family, with our young kids, walked 3rd street at 9 p.m. quite recently. Most stores are dead. The usual crowd of drug-addicted transients were staggering around and I was afraid for my family’s safety. Because we live in SM we are hardened to this. Tourists must find it hellish.

We stopped to chat with a very nice policeman, who was a joy to talk to. Seeing a policeman talking with a family inspired a nearby busker to crank up his amplifier and begin yelling how the cops are bad etc. This continual stream of abuse kept up the whole time we chatted and made conversation difficult. 

The policeman was charming and incredibly patient, ignoring the busker. If I had been a cop it would have been almost impossible for me to not react physically to his insults. Our police really are the best in the world and are being treated like they are criminals.

The whole experience left me and my family shaken.

And our city council’s response? Instead of backing them 110 percent they create a needless citizen oversight board that will take away their time from policing and lessen their to motivation to get involved.

So, how to fix 3rd street…

End street performing. It may have worked in the past, but the performers that night (playing to an empty street) were overloud and in one case extremely abusive. We should hire professional musicians playing classical and classic jazz on acoustic instruments. Stores could sponsor them, and the tips will make things affordable.

Dramatically improve the lighting at night. 2nd, 3rd, 4th Streets etc were quite dark in parts and added to the feeling of menace

Add some low volume muzak. Go and visit Century city mall. The stores are open, the walkways are packed, people feel safe and it is a joy to visit. We used to visit 3rd street for the Gap, Old Navy etc. Now they are dead so we visit Century city instead. The only reasons they closed here were theft, menace and filth.

Get rid of the police oversight board. Our cops should be out on the streets, not fighting baseless claims from political activists. 

I cannot find the words to express my sadness and frustration and my reluctance to visit 3rd street ever again. 

Make no mistake… this has been made to happen through active political choice. It was not inevitable. And it can be undone if the political will is there.  Do our politicians have that will? So far the answer is a resounding no. 

(At no time did my conversation with the policeman mention any of this – he was the model of professionalism. We merely talked about our respective families and activities, there were no political discussions at all,. These are purely my own conclusions from what I see every day.)

Peter Borresen, Santa Monica