News

25 arrests in Rengstorff cleanup

Police arrested 25 people in Rengstorff Park for gambling and drinking last year, city officials say, in efforts to rid the park of gang members and others who have been causing trouble for regular park users.

As the weather gets warmer this year, police will renew "direct enforcement of the park at night" with a "zero tolerance policy," said police spokesperson Liz Wylie. For those in the park gambling or drinking alcohol after hours there will be "no warning -- you are going to get cited," she said.

In response to the City Council making the park's cleanup a top goal in early 2008, city officials began a "problem solving project" in the park, which involved a task force of city department heads from the police department, the Parks and Recreation Department, the city manager's office and others.

During meetings with neighbors in December, city officials noted several problems: drinking and card playing at the picnic tables, a lack of lighting in certain parts of the park, people loitering in the park after hours and "people who appear to be gang members approaching children," wrote assistant city manager Nadine Levin in a staff report.

For many park users caught drinking, "We will try the friendly ranger approach," said Dave Muela, parks and recreation director, referring to warnings. "Many are not aware of the prohibition of alcohol."

The Community Action Team, or CAT, the closest thing to a neighborhood group for Spanish-speaking neighbors of the park, has been working with city officials to improve the park's safety and cleanliness. The group was formed in 2002 by Castro Elementary School parents and has focused on health, safety and education of the neighborhood.

"We're not as vocal and organized as other parts of Mountain View so we sometimes get serviced at a later date," said member Marilu Delgado. "But it's happening and we're grateful for that."

The increased police presence and arrests at the park are necessary, Delgado says, "so people won't have a sense of fear for their children or their family."

Delgado said Rengstorff Park is the neighborhood's "backyard," and that neighbors want it to look as beautiful as Cuesta Park. City officials say Rengstorff is given the same levels of resources for maintenance as Cuesta, but Delgado points out that Rengstorff is more heavily used, a point backed up by city statistics Levin cited last week. "It gets dirtier," Delgado said.

While park rangers and police have found increased instances of drinking and drug possession in the park over the last few years, serious crimes -- including assaults, vandalism and auto burglary -- have been reduced by 80 percent since 2003.

Officials say maintenance of the park could be improved, but that would likely mean taking funds from other parks. Currently, two full-time employees maintain the park year round, with some extra help during the summer. The city has invested $1 million in park upgrades over the last five years.

Delgado said she was encouraged when it was suggested at last week's City Council meeting that the city's summer concert series include concerts at Rengstorff Park, not just Cuesta Park and downtown. Part of Rengstorff Park's problem is that it's hard for some people to tell who is a gang member and who isn't, she said, and social events could help remedy that.

"It's hard for some folks to distinguish who is who," Delgado said. "Once we start having events and people get to know each other it will break down some barriers."

The eventual goal, Levin says, is to get neighbors to take ownership of the park's problems. That could involve city-sponsored activities like a neighborhood watch program and Community Emergency Response Team classes in Spanish. CERT classes have helped the city's other neighborhoods come together in the name of safety, as they require regular drills and meetings to ensure that the neighborhood is ready for an earthquake or other disaster.

Comments

Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 19, 2009 at 4:22 pm

That is some good news. Anything the city can do to run the gang bangers and taggers out of the parks and out of town is a benefit to all of us.


Posted by Nic, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 19, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Did the ever catch whoever it was who was doing all the pinching? Was it because they weren't wearing green in celebration of St. Patrick's Day?


Posted by Lori, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 19, 2009 at 5:40 pm

That park gets trashed because the people who go there have no respect and throw their garbage all over the place. Why should we have to pay extra for people to clean up other people's garbage. If you learned to respect your community and taught your kids to throw trash in trash cans, maybe your park wouldn't be getting "dirtier". The people at Cuesta and Eagle Park know how to use a trash bin....LEARN HOW TO PICK UP YOUR OWN GARBAGE!!!
Also, the comment about coming to a park and getting to know who is and who isn't in a gang is just ridiculous. Even if the city brought more events to that park, people would not go because they don't want to be involved with the type of people that go there...the ones who play their boom boxes so all you have to listen is THEIR music, the ones who sit around sneering at other people, the ones throwing their garbage all over the place, the ones who look like they just got out of prison, etc., etc. You can keep your park and the rest of us respectable citizens will keep ours.


Posted by MV, a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 20, 2009 at 8:54 am

Castro park needs some cleaning up as well...


Posted by Dave, a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Agreed. maybe this park is lost. Best way to avoid crime is to avoid where it breeds. Too bad police won't just flat out say "stay out of bad areas" rather than the ridiculous "stay aware of your surroundings" and "keep packages in your trunk, out of view"

The gun store in Mt View can barely keep anything in stock. People are tired of waiting for hand wringing city councils to get things done.

However----kudos to Mt View PD for keeping the city enjoyable. The aggressive and obnoxious panhandlers in Palo Alto and Menlo Park make me glad I have a downtown I can visit without being annoyed and accosted.


Posted by Enough!, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 20, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Funny comment, nic

pinched in or pitched in?

v. pinched, pinch·ing, pinch·es

v. tr.

To squeeze between the thumb and a finger, the jaws of a tool, or other edges.
To squeeze or bind (a part of the body) in a way that causes discomfort or pain: These shoes pinch my toes.
To nip, wither, or shrivel: buds that were pinched by the frost; a face that was pinched with grief.
To straiten: "A year and a half of the blockade has pinched Germany" (William L. Shirer).
Slang To take (money or property) unlawfully. See Synonyms at steal.
Slang To take into custody; arrest.
To move (something) with a pinch bar.
Nautical To sail (a boat) so close into the wind that its sails shiver and its speed is reduced.
v. intr.

To press, squeeze, or bind painfully: This collar pinches.
To be miserly.
Nautical To drag an oar at the end of a stroke.
n.
The act or an instance of pinching.
An amount that can be held between thumb and forefinger: a pinch of salt.
A painful, difficult, or straitened circumstance: felt the pinch of the recession.
An emergency situation: This coat will do in a pinch.
A narrowing of a mineral deposit, as in a mine.
Informal A theft.
Slang An arrest by a law enforcement officer.
adj. Baseball
Relating to pinch-hitting or pinch runners: a pinch single; a pinch steal of third base.

[Middle English pinchen, from Old North French *pinchier, variant of Old French pincier, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *pīnctiāre.]


The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.


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