The fatal stabbing of Tomas “Jose” Mejia, a maintenance worker at the Park La Brea apartment complex, in June, has motivated the Park La Brea Residents Association to begin organizing the nearly 12,000 residents of the historic townhouse/apartment complex to formally request management of Park La Brea make specific improvements to the security of the community. At its meeting earlier this month, the board of the residents association announced it has begun collecting signatures for a petition. The board members assert that security at Park La Brea has been lax over the years, and Mejia’s tragic death has galvanized the group to take action.
According to the petition, the PLBRA asserts:
“Park La Brea residents have noticed a surge in petty crime and lease violations in the development over the past few years, including package theft, trash dumping, loud parties, storage break-ins, car thefts and altercations. This has been capped by at least one armed robbery and two homicides since the beginning of 2020. The tragic event of June 16th, 2021 is leading us to take action.
We, the undersigned, are concerned Park La Brea residents who urge PLB management to take immediate action to strengthen security at the development, including: 1) installing cameras at gates and garages; 2) requiring cars belonging to non-residents to acquire passes to enter; 3) enforcing parking violations; 4) and enforcing action against lease violations, including loud late-night parties in shared spaces in the development. We also request that PLB management reinstitute regular meetings with our elected representatives at the Park LaBrea Residents Association in order to stay informed about residents’ concerns and take action where necessary.”
PLBRA President Bob Shore invited PLB Patrol Head Angelo Dahlia to attend the meeting where the action was discussed, but Dahlia declined to attend. Shore and Vice President Angela Gyetvan reported that LAPD officials advised residents to file police reports even if thefts seem minor – like packages stolen from the mail room or vandalized cars. If reports are filed, LAPD officials will have crime stats and will be able to deploy more resources to assist the residents. Both Shore and Gyetvan expressed frustration that Park La Brea management has not been more transparent or willing to meet with residents on security matters.
The group is also hoping the recent tragedy will increase awareness of the need for security improvements and encourage more residents to join the association. Dues are $15 for an individual or $25 for a family.
“Park La Brea is a such a great community, we’d love to have 1,000 members by January,” said Gyetvan, who has set up a new website as well as an Instagram account get the word out to residents. They are also promoting the Go Fund Me account set up by SEIU-West Meja’s union to help his family. And Gyetvan and other board members are also organizing events to bring residents together – like an electronic waste recycling and prescription drug disposal events. They have also expanded the printed newsletter that is distributed to residents.
“We’ve also recently formed committees on sustainability & fundraising,” Gyetvan told the Buzz. “We are also working closely with CD4 Councilmember Nithya Raman to improve protections for tenants and next week we are meeting Congressman Ted Lieu.”
The PLBRA was started in 1985 when a handful of residents got together to solve a problem in the towers, according to the group’s website. At the time, it was successful in dealing with management on numerous issues. Ownership of the complex changed fifteen years ago, and it is now owned by Prime Real Estate. But leaders of the PLBRA hope they can continue to partner with management to improve security and sustain a high quality of life in this unique residential community with different housing types, which dates back to the 1940s.