For many months, transients have hunkered down in front of the Albertsons supermarket at 2235 University Avenue in North Park. They panhandle for change and sometimes fall asleep on the sidewalk.
After contacting the Albertsons corporate office, I received an email on June 14 from loss prevention district manager Koby Dumas, who offered this reply: “Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience you may have experienced in respect to the transients that hang out at this location. We are looking into this opportunity and working on a solution.”
Lilia Rodriguez, external communications manager for Albertsons in Southern California, said by phone June 15 that “it's a challenge” dealing with the problem. They get many complaints from their customers at other store locations, she said.
Nikki Berdy, president of North Park Community Association, said by email, “I think the transient problem has gotten worse everywhere due to the economy.”
On June 15, I spoke with Belinda Cobb, tagged “Person in Charge” at the Ralphs on 1030 University Avenue. How does Ralphs manage to keep the panhandlers away, while Albertsons cannot? “It's because we have security here in the center,” Cobb said.
As for hiring security, Albertsons’ Rodriguez said the North Park store management has “all options on the table.” Store personnel must be careful about ordering transients off the property, she said, "because we don't want anyone to get hurt.”