The National Conference of Christians and Jews, an organization dedicated to interreligious and interracial dialogue, is spearheading an effort to clean up Hollywood.
The New York-based conference has organized about 60 Hollywood residents, businessmen, religious leaders, city officials, television producers and law enforcement officials into the Hollywood Community Criminal Justice Forum.
The conference chose Hollywood because its ethnic minorities know little about how to work with police to reduce crime, said Richard Vega, director of criminal justice for the organization's Los Angeles office.
Hollywood has one of the city's highest crime rates, according to Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Robert Taylor, who chairs the forum. He said the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue is the scene of a particularly high number of arrests. Drug sales take place in alleys, parking lots and small businesses, and prostitutes use residential hotels, he said.
The forum has specifically targeted the Hollywood Bouldvard-Western Avenue area in response to a study on bus crime in Los Angeles completed by UCLA in January, 1985. It concluded that the adult book stores, bars and residential hotels within a block of the intersection contribute to the area's crime problem.
It also found that the intersection was rated as the most dangerous in Los Angeles by the 1,088 RTD bus riders it surveyed. The area also had the third-highest incidence of crimes against RTD bus riders at the 10 stops studied in Los Angeles.
High Crime Area
"We're trying to get control of the corner," said Norris Lineweaver, executive director of the Hollywood YMCA and a forum member. "It's been (a high crime area) for years and I suspect it will take two to three years before we can get control of it."
Members of the forum divided into committees to discuss specific problems: the homeless, inter-cultural relations and street crime.
The committee on the homeless plans to publish a free guide to organizations and services in Hollywood for the district's estimated 2,500 homeless. The education committee is providing information on police relations in a number of foreign languages for ethnic minorities. Another committee is studying solutions to street crime at the Hollywood and Western intersection.
Meanwhile, the NCCJ will end its involvement with the forum in December to allow the group to run on its own.
"We help them to put a workable structure in place so that they can continue when the NCCJ is no longer on the scene," Polling said. "We are not tying to impose any structure or issues on them. The intention going in is for it to be theirs, not ours."
The conference was drawn to Hollywood because of its ethnic diversity, according to Polling. Most of the minorities are Korean, Chinese, Thai, Armenian and Latinos from Central and South America, he said.
"We have immigrants in the Hollywood area who don't know how the criminal justice system works," Polling said. "The more we can bring them into the mainstream, the more likely it is that they will see the criminal justice system is not an enemy, but there for their protection."