Police and members of the Ocean Beach Town Council say they're going to turn up the heat on the property owner who once leased to the former Apple Tree market: they say little is being done to prevent homeless people from taking up residence in a patch of unmaintained landscaping.
The property at the corner of Santa Monica Avenue and Cable Street has been vacant since late last year, when the market lost its lease. A chain-link fence that surrounds the address has attracted homeless people, who find it convenient to lay down their bedding between the fence and a long hedgerow along Santa Monica Avenue.
The property is owned by Elliot Megdal, whose business is based in Los Angeles. The hedgerow is in the public right-of-way, but Megdal is legally bound to maintain it, according to police Lt. Natalie Stone. She said police have been fielding complaints from business owners and the manager of a nearby apartment building about homeless activity, weeds in the parking lot, and graffiti. She said she recently arrested a man for illegal lodging after catching him for a third time.
“Apparently, [Megdal] has not been hearing from the community,” Stone said at the town council's April 24 meeting. Stone said that she contacted Megdal on the 23rd to “tell him he has a problem” and recommended he cut the hedgerow to a height of two feet. If he doesn't do it, the city's Code Enforcement department could trim the bushes and bill Megdal, she said.
Town council president Dave Martin said he would distribute Megdal's number to board members and encourage them to air their complaints.