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  • Safe Streets Now!

    Violence. Noise. Garbage. Vandalism. Prostitution. Speeding Cars. If you've ever lived near a public nuisance, you know how distressing and disruptive its presence can be.

    Many communities are traumatized by public nuisances, such as drug trafficking, and the crime and violence associated with these activities. Open drug markets flourish as neighborhood residents witness and endure the encroaching blight. Unfortunately, there aren't enough police and city resources to pursue every public nuisance in every neighborhood. However you and your neighbors can shut down the whole operation on your own by getting the property declared a "public nuisance" and, if necessary, taking the owner of the property to Small Claims Court.

    What is a Public Nuisance?
    A public nuisance, according to state law, is anything that is:

    1. Injurious to health
    2. Indecent to the senses
    3. Unlawfully impeding free use of the streets
    4. Obstructing free use of property so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property

    Why do we need Safe Streets Now!?
    With Safe Streets Now! the residents come together to de­fine the standards of conduct for their neighborhood and enforce those standards at the neighborhood level. Some people view this as a community policing tool while others see it as a neighborhood and resident empowerment tool.

    Is Safe Streets Now! Going to Make a Difference?
    We believe Safe Streets Now! will be a valuable addition to the ongoing work of the City's Police Department, Prosecutor's Office, Councilmembers and Field Representatives, the Neighborhood Outreach Team, and the Human Services and Recreation Department.   In over 800 cases where the Safe Streets Now! program was used, 80% of the cases successfully closed down targeted properties without going to court. Additionally, all cases taken to court have also been settled in favor of the neighborhoods and the Safe Streets Now! program.

    How does Safe Streets Now! Work?
    Safe Streets Now! is a step-by-step process that residents can use to address public nuisances in their neighborhoods. In Pasadena, Safe Streets Now! will include a part­nership between neighbors, police, city staff, and community-based organization representatives. Safe Streets Now! began in Oakland, California in 1989 and is a nationally recognized program. 

    Safe Streets Now! uses a State of California nuisance abatement law. This law is at the heart of the program. It affirms that residents have a right to fully enjoy the use of their homes in peace. The process for Safe Streets Now! is straightforward and includes the following steps:

    1. Identify property creating the public nuisance.
    2. Take notes on nuisance.
    3. Phone each incidence to the police.
    4. Write 'demand letter' to the property owner and threaten to take the owner to Small Claims Court if he or she does not correct the nuisance. (The majority of cases never make it to court, most landlords voluntarily remove the problem tenants from their properties after receiving the demand letter.)
    5. Take the landlord to Small Claims Court. The plaintiffs (neighborhood residents) file a joint suit. It costs $75 (which can be waived) per plaintiff to file and each plaintiff can sue for up to $7,500. No attorneys may be used by either party in a small claims trial. Court dates are set within 30 days of the filing and judgments are issued within 30 days of the trial. Small Claims Court is swift and inexpensive.

    What About Retaliation? Will I Be Safe?
    Safe Streets Now! is a non-violent, non-confrontational way to rid communities of public nuisances such as drug and gang houses. Residents are safe because they will never confront or contact the gang members or drug dealers directly when documenting the problems. They contact other neighbors and the police by telephone. The demand letter includes a Pasadena Safe Streets Now! address, the name of the facilitator as the contact person, and will is sent directly to the landlord along with the residents' documentation.

    What Do I Do To Participate In Safe Streets Now!?
    Call the Neighborhood Connections Office with the address where there are existing public nuisances. We can be reached at 626-744-7311 (Citizen Service Center). You can be assisted in English or Spanish. Agree to meet a member of the Pasadena Safe Streets Now! Team to set up a problem-solving gathering with neighbors familiar with the nuisances. Follow the Safe Streets Now! step-by-step process with the assistance of neighbors and facilitator.  This program is sponsored by Neighborhood Connections (City of Pasadena Human Services and Recreation Department)

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