SANTA MONICA, Calif. - A large banner displayed near Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade is drawing the ire of city officials and certain members of the community.
FOX 11 was near the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Arizona Avenue, where the sign that reads, in part, "Santa Monica is not safe" was displayed in the area.
The sign has drawn the attention of both locals and tourists passing the area.
A group of residents and business owners with the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City explained the crime and safety issues have plagued the area so bad, the members of the nonprofit group decided to take matters into their own hands to get local officials' attention.
"We've had enough," said Jessica Rogers, with the Santa Monica Coalition. "We're using free speech as a way to raise awareness and let people know this is actually the truth about Santa Monica."
Rogers adds she carries mace at all times, even during the day.
"There's sex workers here," said John Alle, who is also with the Santa Monica coalition. "There's drug dealing in the open, 8, 9 a.m. in the morning, 10, 11 p.m. at night. We have four to five people dying a month in the alleys from overdoses of fentanyl."
Andrew Thomas, CEO of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., on the other hand, disagrees with the nonprofit's decision to display the banner.
"Putting up signage like that I find to be very harmful to our business community, to our reputation, and really runs counter to the experience that thousands and thousands of people are having when they come visit our downtown every single day," Thomas said.
As for city officials, they were not happy about the sign being propped up. The City of Santa Monica issued the following statement, in part:
"The City of Santa Monica places the highest value on community safety. Our Police Department is successfully preventing and addressing crime in our Downtown every day through increased patrols and the hiring of nearly 30 new officers this calendar year. There are also new private security resources for the Downtown and parking structures. This work is done in partnership with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. and local businesses, and has shown results with Part 1 Crime decreasing even in the last ten days as a result of SMPD’s holiday deployment.
We care deeply about the success of Santa Monica businesses. It’s sad that a small group of landlords are working against our collective success through signage at the very moment when small businesses are welcoming holiday customers."
On the other hand, a study ranked Santa Monica near the bottom of the rankings for safest cities in California.
According to a study released by home safety and security news site SafeWise.com, Santa Monica was ranked 224th out of 230 eligible cities in the state.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: These SoCal cities are among California's least safe: report
According to the report, Santa Monica's rate is 6 violent crimes and 42.6 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
The only other California cities with a higher rate in that research were Compton (#225), Richmond (#225), Stockton (#227), San Bernardino (#229), and Oakland (#230). Those interested in learning more from Safewise.com's study can click here.