From Segerstrom Hall to South Coast Plaza, the Eastside and the Westside, coyotes are in Costa Mesa. And they're here to stay.
The wild canines — specifically, their attacking and eating of domestic animals, such as dogs and cats — were the hot topic of discussion at Monday night's town hall meeting at Woodland Elementary School. The event organized by Councilwoman Wendy Leece had about 50 attendees and was geared toward Eastside residents.
"I cannot sit here and tell you that we're not going to lose another dog or a cat in the city," said Sgt. Phil Myers of the Costa Mesa Police Department. "That would be not an honest answer. But I think with some of the tips that we're going to give you, we can help mitigate and lower some of those loss rates of our animals."
Myers said even if city CEO Tom Hatch gave a direction of not wanting "to see another coyote here by Christmas," it would be impossible and financially unfeasible to relocate, get rid of or trap them.
"From Fish and Game to the United States Humane Society, everybody's in agreement that we have to get along with these coyotes," Myers said. "That's just the way it is, because you will not be able to eliminate them."
His tips included not feeding coyotes because it would make them more accustomed to people, and hazing the animals by yelling at them, dousing them with water and using noisemakers to scare them off. Those actions, Myers said, could help instill the coyotes' natural fear of humans.
He also advised never running away from a coyote or leaving food out, and keeping cats and small dogs inside.
Concerning a possible database or statistics of reported coyote attacks, Myers said the department doesn't have the time to build one.
"To a point, it would be like reporting every stray cat you see," he said, adding that there haven't been reports of rabid coyotes.
He did encourage volunteer groups to make such a database.
There will be also coyote warning signs, hopefully by December, in certain areas of the city, he said.
Costa Mesa resident Christy Roget has been working with Leece on the issue, which she calls the Lucky Project that's named for her pet dog that was lost in a coyote attack.
Eastside crime, CMPD staffing
Cpl. Dale Johnson gave a presentation about Eastside crime statistics, some of which could be attributed to problems derived from the Newport Boulevard motels. As of September, he noted an approximate 17% rise in crime compared to last year.
One common crime in that area, as well as other parts of the city, is stealing from unlocked cars.
"They're just going and checking doors, going inside, pilfering what they find, taking it and leaving," Johnson said.
He called it the "new hot crime" countywide. The stolen items are often traded or sold and used to buy drugs, he said.
Johnson also urged not putting outgoing checks in residential mailboxes because they could be stolen, rewritten or otherwise used for identity theft. Instead, mail them from secured boxes or the post office, he said.
Concerning CMPD staffing levels, Hatch said some full-time sworn positions have been replaced with nonsworn positions such as community service officers, crime scene investigators, park rangers and code enforcement officers.
"Those kinds of nonsworn positions are being added back to, in theory, hopefully have the same approximate number of hours of police service on the street," he said.
Furthermore, Hatch said the department is using an "aggressive hiring process," which includes looking to hire six entry-level sworn officers, two sworn officers coming in from other jurisdictions and eight reserve sworn officers. He said the city is looking to "over hire" the authorized strength of 131 sworn officers to about 141.