Riding by the bathrooms on my bike I heard a horrible noise. I thought someone was being assaulted…echoes of shouting jibberish coming from the bathrooms. I called 911 and the operator could hear the sound of the person in distress in the background as I requested paramedics and police. As I waited, I could see needles on the ground at the base of the bathroom stall, and a crack pipe rolling in and out as the woman writhed on the floor. The fire department responded, and as you can see in the video as soon as she was approached, although incoherent – she was capable enough to do one thing after they wiped the foam and vomit from her mouth: refuse medical treatment. She walked away, only to have two more calls generated within an hour from people who had the same experience with her as I did, in a different bathroom stall down the boardwalk.
I have seen this female transient many times – her name is Sherri. Always dirty and disheveled, spewing jibberish. Pupils pinned. The paramedics assumed by their prior experience with her, her current condition, and the crack pipe plus three needles at her feet that she had shot heroin and smoked crack. All this in the public restroom where the remainders of her broken needles and broken rocks of crack remained. Recreation and parks came by to clean it and bleach the area… but nevertheless this was after 9 a.m. – with tourists, joggers and the morning local crowd getting on with the start of their day.
Without getting into a debate about legalizing marijuana – the proliferation of narcotics at the beach seems to be reaching new levels. Every day along 18th between Speedway and Pacific, pathway to the basketball courts – people exchange drugs, pills, weed and openly smoke pot and drink booze all day long. Even the people who work for Recreation and Parks say people deal right in front of them all day long and the dealers just don’t care… because nothing ever seems to happen. The transaction just happens too fast – and the basketball courts and bathrooms are the main execution points. Having become familiar with the municipal and budgetary challenges that The City of Los Angeles has… I don’t expect a miracle… but something has to give. The amount of tourists on the boardwalk which goes hand-in-hand with the attractiveness and ease of panhandling from them for transients sets the stage for every level of drug sales and use. The cycle here just feeds itself… and as with this female transient, she was finally taken by the fire department to the hospital because after three responses she *finally* displayed behavior that she was a danger to herself. She will most likely be released in hours, straight back to her home on the boardwalk and cycle of addiction.
After she walked away, I went right to the park office and showed them the photos. They sent a team that was already on duty to clean the remains of needles and drugs that the fire department did not remove ( the got most of it ). If I hadn’t made the trip, nobody would have known. The metal needle point would still be there… which is certainly what happens far more often than not. While everyone agrees we need more rest rooms and a better maintenance situation… I don’t know one person that isn’t a hapless tourist or a local transient that would go within an inch of those rest rooms… so who is going to fight for success in changing the situation? Until LAPD truly targets narcotics on the boardwalk and implements any long-term daily strategy at stopping it … all that comes from it will continue including the bio-hazardous medical waste, vomit and daily calls for overdoses. By the way, if you wonder at all where all the drugs come from that feed the hundreds of addicted transients along the boardwalk, it is gangs. Get rid of the drugs, and you get rid of 90% of our problems down here. IMO.