LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Pray the gangs away?
Residents of one Long Beach neighborhood say an abandoned church has become a haven for gang members and drug addicts.
CBS2’s Rachel Kim spoke to a former church member who is upset about what the church has become.
After it was recently sold, El Dorado Park Church now sits abandoned as it waits for the new owner’s future plans.
She spoke to a man who didn’t want to be identified who used to attend the church.
“The property was once beautiful,” he said, “but now it’s tore up.”
It’s a story that is Only On 2.
The man, she refers to him as “Danny,” says he’s concerned and frustrated that the one time place of worship has turned into a hotbed of sin.
“The sacred grounds have been busted with the drugs, the people coming in use destroying the property, stealing, looting it’s not right, something has to be done,” Danny said.
Danny says local gangs have taken over the building and are even charging the homeless money to stay there. He says there’s a lot of drug activity and prostitution going on inside.
“It’s really frustrating because I have kids that live in this neighborhood. And also for these senior citizens people, their safety,” he said.
There is a senior living facility next door to the church.
The two buildings are separated by a fence, but Danny says he’s seen the people staying at the church go into the senior facility.
“By the time cops get out here, the guys are gone. And even if they’re not gone, the cops will just tell them hey, you gotta go. And five minutes after the cops go, they come right back,” Danny says.
Kim reached out to the property’s owner to ask what they’re doing about the problems. They said:
“Over the course of the last two years we have been working with the city staff and the community on development plans for the property. Since the church vacated the property a few months ago we’ve implemented numerous security measures including daily and nightly patrols, installation of security fencing, and coordination with city police and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to prevent any illegal activity on the property.”
Danny doesn’t exactly concur with their assessment.
“We as a community need to stand up together because if we don’t, we’re just gonna allow this to continue,” Danny said.
Long Beach Police confirm that have been called to the location many, many times, and residents said they hoped an increased presence will keep trespassers away.