Community collaborates on Ford Road problems

Members of several city departments attended an impromptu community meeting Wednesday aimed at addressing burglary, drug use, vandalism and other crimes along and near Ford Road in Costa Mesa.

Residents in the Westside neighborhood near The Triangle complained to city officials that homeless people leave their belongings atop garages and carports. They described car and home burglaries, finding syringes, a fear of not being able to leave their cars unlocked as they transfer grocery bags from their trunks to their homes, vagrants living in a nearby storage yard and identity theft.

"I don't want to be in constant fear that my house will get broken into," said resident Lillian Baker, who said she believes there's been an uptick in crime since Christmas.

Complaints by about 10 residents who addressed the City Council Tuesday evening spawned the next-day meeting, which was partially held under a tent city employees set up in an alley off Ford.

Members of the Police and Fire departments, Code Enforcement, Public Services, city clerk's office, Planning Commission, Finance Department and council attended the meeting, according to city spokesman Bill Lobdell.

Resident Kelly Sinclair said nearby motels and proximity to social services attract the homeless and recently released inmates in search of cheap motel housing.

"I think we have a right to keep our neighborhood safe no matter what we're surrounded by," Sinclair said.

While some residents expressed concern that the city couldn't finance improvements, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer assured them that the city could allocate funds from its $100-million budget to address concerns.

City CEO Tom Hatch said the city would organize a neighborhood watch group, call for permit parking and work with police and Code Enforcement officers to improve living conditions.

"There's a lot of little details and Code Enforcement will do a complete sweep of this area," he said.

Police Chief Tom Gazsi said in the spring the department began a problem-oriented policing project in the area, and has since recorded 72 incidents.

He pledged that the department would be "in full force" behind any efforts the city put in place.

Resident Lisa Kier said her car and subsequently her identity were stolen from the neighborhood.

Her car was found under a car tarp in the driveway of a parolee staying nearby, but she said she was denied a job with the School District due to the identity crime committed against her.

"Something really has to be done," she said. "I should not have to live in fear."

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