SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) -- A Santa Monica man is suing the city over conditions in the downtown area due to the growing homeless population.
John Alle, along with other Promenade property and business owners, say they are not getting help from city officials so they're turning to L.A. County Sheriff's Department for answers.
"My goal is to have this return to Santa Monica's living room. Right now, it's a bathroom," said property owner John Alle.
Alle owns three spaces along the Third Street Promenade, which he says are now struggling to keep the foot traffic flowing because of the homeless population.
"The urine, the defecation -- no one should have to pass that," he said. "The bottom line is there's 65% vacancy and a lot of the stores you see here are month-to-month. It's definitely keeping people away. The word spreads."
Alle and others said they've reached out to several leaders, but to no avail.
"I've asked the mayor, I've asked the former city manager and I've asked the current interim city manager to come walk, let's solve this together, but they don't want to. Their main goal is to tear the building down," Alle said.
Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich sent CBSLA a statement saying in part:
"One of the most critical needs right now is permanent supportive housing and we are addressing this need in a number of different ways... including moving forward with a project to convert an outdated parking structure in our downtown into affordable and supportive housing."
To help control the growing crisis, Alle and others are considering hiring off-duty sheriff's deputies to patrol the Promenade area. However, the Santa Monica city attorney and California's attorney general said they don't believe that would be legally feasible.
"They would work for the property owners, move people along, enforce the laws," Alle said.
The sheriff has been assisting with the homelessness crisis in Venice as well, which Alle said gave him the idea to have Sheriff Alex Villanueva survey the Promenade area.
The 2020 Greater L.A. Homeless Count recorded 66,433 people living on the streets of L.A. County, a 12.7% increase from the previous year.
Sheriff Villanueva did not immediately respond to CBSLA's request for comment.
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