Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens rife with crime
September 10, 2012
OPINION By DR. JASON PAMBRUN
I read “Atascadero police accused of illegal searches” and felt compelled to comment directly. It’s really a shame CalCoastNews didn’t find the time to interview some of us who work every day in the Sunken Gardens area. You might have been able to offer your readers perhaps a bit more perspective on why the police were in the Sunken Gardens conducting searches.
In your story, Sgt. Gregg Meyer describes these kids as emulating gang members but not being involved in drugs. While that may have been the case on that day, this is quite a bit different from my own experience with the kids who loiter in the area.
The Sunken Gardens has been rife with alcohol and drugs for some time. Rarely a day goes by where I don’t witness around my office public drunkenness, drug use, public sex, and or public urination in the Sunken Gardens. The area around my office is frequently littered with empty liquor bottles, beer cans, drug paraphernalia, and used condoms.
As my office caters almost exclusively to middle school/high school-aged kids who often walk over from the junior high or high school, clearly this is bad for business. Needless to say, I’ve had numerous parents complain about open drug use around my office, or fear for their child’s safety while walking to their appointments. Just recently, a parent in my practice had to run out and break up a brutal fight right in front of my office.
Another issue is that these kids who loiter in the park are often joined by much older men (and on occasion, women). On one occasion, a parent in my office identified one of these adults as a known sex offender.
The bottom line is that the Sunken Gardens needs to be cleaned up. The current situation in the Gardens is not only bad for my business, but also for families and kids who just want to enjoy or simply traverse the Sunken Gardens without having to put up with the ridiculous behavior of this group of loitering kids, not to mention my employees who often feel threatened just walking to their cars to and from the office.
With what I’ve seen in the Sunken Gardens, and contrary to the assertion of your article, I’d say the police had plenty of probable cause to conduct the searches you reported on.
Jason Pambrun is an Atascadero dentist with an office next to the Sunken Gardens.