Crime and Homelessness Leads at Town Council October Meeting

Topanga Town Council President Stacy Sledge with Council Member Alisa Land Hill and Vice President Carrie Carrier. Photo by Annemarie Donkin

Community members expressed concerns about the possible SCE PSPS power shutoffs on Red Flag days; fire safety, homelessness, and school vaccinations.

President Stacy Sledge returned to the head of the table as the Topanga Town Council worked through another full agenda at the Topanga Library on October 9. Vice-President Carrie Carrier, Community Liaison Tam Taylor, and Council Member Alisa Land Hill also reported during the meeting.

Traffic Report: CHP Public Information Officer Weston Haver reported that in September the CHP responded to six traffic collisions on Topanga Canyon Blvd. (SR-27). Two traffic collisions occurred from L.A. City limits south to the two-mile bridge—one was a minor injury due to speed and one was unsafe turning. This was down from three collisions in Sept. 2018. There were two accidents in September from the two-mile bridge south to Pacific Coast Highway with no reports of serious injury. This was down from three accidents in September 2018. Haver said the primary collision factors were unsafe turning movement, speed, and passing on the right. 

“We had one DUI, and one motorist passing on the right over the solid white line,” Haver said. “There was one unique collision; a mountain driver flipped over, complained of pain, but there were no serious injuries.”

To report unsafe driving, call (818) 888-0980; (800) TELLCHP; or e-mail Officer Weston Haver at Weston.haver@chp.ca.gov

Sheriff’s Report: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Winn reported that in August, the last period for which he has statistics, there were no murders, rapes, armed robberies, no strong-armed robbery or assaults in Topanga.

“There were no petty thefts and we are down from five last year,” Winn said. “There was one residential burglary and one theft from an unlocked vehicle. Overall, crime is down 16 percent from last year. We had a transient burglary from a vehicle, a burglary from an open garage door on Topanga Skyline, a bicycle stolen from a house where entry was gained through an unlocked Dutch door. There was a theft on Oakwood, the suspect was a neighbor. There was a burglary from a vehicle on Entrada where the window was smashed and a laptop stolen; and a window smashed on a vehicle and a purse stolen from the seat.”

Winn also warned of cybercrime and said if someone calls, e-mails or contacts you for bank or personal information, call the number on the back of your credit or ATM card, as that is the only number you can trust. 

“What I tell everybody, [cyber thieves] use the real site’s bank information, but cut and paste their own phone number on the bottom,” he said. 

Regarding reports of fires at homeless encampments, Winn spoke of the continuing challenge of policing homeless encampments in the hills of Topanga and gave reasons why unarmed firefighters should not be policing them. He also reported that the Sheriff’s and Fire Departments are continuing to investigate the two illegal fires in Topanga, one at the temporary dwellings located where the legendary Corral once stood. The property is currently owned by Lindsay Hemric aka Moonshine.

County Report: Tessa Charnofsky, West Valley and Mountain Communities District Director for L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, said the Woolsey Fire Task Force will be coming out with their recommendations at a public hearing on Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Agoura High School, 28545 Driver Ave., Agoura Hills, CA 91301. 

Charnofsky also responded to a question about the increase in homelessness in the Canyon.

“Supervisor Sheila Kuehl feels strongly about not criminalizing homelessness,” she said. “We strongly believe people who are homeless come from a variety of factors but the primary reason is poverty. A lot of people are struggling with mental health issues, which we have to recognize; they are still people and maybe they are cold, maybe they are hungry, we have to have compassion. It doesn’t mean we have to sit passively by and do nothing. I’ll tell you what we can do, but I do want to say it’s an enormous problem countywide.” 

Charnofsky offered viable solutions to the issue, such as having concerned residents contact agencies like St. Joseph’s; L.A. Family Housing; People Concern; or LA-HOP, which is an online portal designed to assist people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County with outreach services.

She also suggested attending the Homeless Connect Day on December 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Malibu Court House. 

“Measure H, which is county funded, largely funds services. But building housing is taking a very, very long time…..Last year for every 133 people who were housed each day, there were 150 people who become homeless each day. Go to LA-HOP  to report someone experiencing homelessness and to help them get connected to services.”

Topanga Community Report: Council Member Alisa Land Hill reported that Topanga Charter Elementary School was awarded 1,600 Monarch butterfly habitat plants and invited the community for a planting party at the Topanga General Store on Sunday, Oct. 27. 

Canyon Sages Report: Tam Taylor once again offered a heartfelt plea for more support for the Canyon Sages in Topanga, especially during evacuations for those who have not registered their locations. “It’s really difficult to reach people in the Canyon; we need support,” she said. 

Deputy Mark Winn offered once again, in a fire event, those who are considered “slow load” residents, meaning those who may need help getting into vehicles, including children, those with mobility issues, and the elderly, need to be more proactive in the case of an evacuation. 

“We on the law side have to be careful of medical information due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)” Winn said. “What we’ve been doing for the last couple of years is asking if you need a longer time to load and do you have a caregiver whom we can interest in a Topanga Access Card, so we can track the house according to need and based on who has a caregiver card. That’s how that is working.”

Taylor agreed that this is a delicate issue given that the main problem is getting the word out to seniors to get a Topanga Access Card and/or one for a caregiver. 

For more information on the Canyon Sages, go to: contact@canyonsages.com or www.canyonsages.com.

Town Council Report: Stacy Sledge provided the Town Council Report by suggesting that the community obtain resident and caregiver Access cards. She also urged Topangans to lobby for the ACCESS Paratransit to make stops in Topanga. 

“The one thing we have been trying for decades is ACCESS Paratransit,” Sledge said. “They do not pick up in Topanga where people can’t take public transportation; the criteria is you must have a physical or mental disability that you can’t take public transportation.” You also have to be within three-quarters of a mile from public transportation. ACCESS comes through the Valley to the Westside, but they don’t pick up in Topanga.” 

The next Topanga Town Council General Meeting is November 13, 6 p.m. at the Topanga Library. Meetings are every second Wednesday of the month and is an opportunity to meet your local sheriffs, CHP, and other government representatives and hear their reports.

Topanga Access Card applications are available one hour prior to the meeting; call Lindsay for an appointment at: (310) 569-8931; or purchase online at: topangatowncouncil.org.

For more information: onetopanga.com; contact@topangatowncouncil.org; or (310) 455-3001.

Topanga Town Council (TCTC) was formed by residents in 1977 in response to needs unique to the mountain community and to serve as a liaison with Topanga’s official governing body, the Los Angeles County Supervisor’s Office.

GOVERNMENT CONTACTS

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl office—Contact Tessa Charnofsky at: TCharnofsky@bos.lacountv.gov (818) 880-9416.

State Senator Henry Stern’s office—Contact Jeremy Wolf at: JeremyWolf@sen.ca.gov or (818) 876-3352.

Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s office—Contact Tim Pershing at: Tim.Pershing@asm.ca.gov or (310) 450-0041.

 

Annemarie Donkin
Annemarie Donkin

Annemarie Donkin is a journalist who wrote for The Signal in Valencia, CA and was the Managing Editor for the Topanga Messenger from 2013 to 2016. She is thrilled to write for the Messenger Mountain News to continue the tradition of excellent community newspapers. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel throughout California, read, watch movies and keep bees.

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