City Planning Director to confront nuisance businesses on Western Avenue


Residents from the Martin Luther King Park neighborhood called upon Los Angeles City Planning Director Michael LoGrande to audit three businesses on Western Avenue that they claim foster criminal activity at the nearby park and library.

Residents presented LoGrande with a letter–signed by more than 300 residents–that requested a report card review of Dan Mar Motel and public hearings for Pinetree Motel and W&W recycling center. LoGrande said he is committed to reviewing the evidence and making a decision about whether to hold public hearings within 30 days. He also promised to send Dan Mar Motel a reminder that it is already scheduled for a city review on November 10.

Community speakers at a meeting on Monday described the businesses as a self-sustaining cycle of crime: offenders find recyclables at the park, cash them in at W&W and use the money for drugs or prostitutes at the motels, park and library.

“How can we make this area really thrive as a flourishing business district?” asked LoGrande. “From a planning point of view, how do we make sure we don’t have a recycling center, a motel and liquor store all next to a school or nursery?”

Residents expressed concern that even though the park was recently renovated with new playground equipment and facilities, the nearby illicit activity could revert the area back to a crime hot spot.


“We want to have a vibrant Western [District],” said Carla Guerrero, communications assistant for Community Coalition. “We want to make this a place where people are proud to live.”

Community Coalition says it is focusing on this specific stretch of Western Avenue as an example of the kind of community action it hopes to see across South L.A. neighborhoods that are troubled by drug dealing, prostitution and other illegal street activity. The group identifies “nuisance businesses” with the aim of mitigating crime by enforcing on-site security, regulation lighting and mandatory closing times.

“By getting the community involved, it kind of puts them under a microscope,” said Pierre Olega, LAPD senior lead officer who oversees the area. He explained that something as simple as informal neighborhood watch teams can discourage crime. “Arresting them doesn’t solve the problem. It’s a temporary fix, but by working with the community and city planning, we can help interrupt the process [of criminal activity].”

Photos by Lisa Rau

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