City leaders respond to ongoing downtown violence, drag racing and massive, unregulated parties

Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 9:54 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - After a weekend full of buzzing cars and motorcycles, large gatherings that went unregulated and violent crime, downtown residents said they’re fed up. Those residents reaching out to News 4 for answers, while placing the blame on city leaders.

“I sure would love to see some control,” Diane Arnold said.

Arnold lives off Washington Avenue downtown. She said this past weekend was particularly bad when it comes to the plethora of issues residents are dealing with.

“We need responsible and consistent enforcement of the existing ordinances,” Arnold Stricker said.

Stricker’s one of the nearly two dozen who had his car broken into early Sunday morning. News 4 first told you about this Sunday night, showing surveillance video of four teens breaking into the Printers Lofts garage. We also told you about a suspected illegal party at the Ely Walker Lofts’ rooftop Saturday night.

Now, city leaders are revealing new information about what went down over the weekend.

“A stolen Range Rover gained access to the garage by following another car into the area. The car was later involved in a car accident and recovered the abandoned car on the street,” St. Louis Public Safety Director Dan Isom said.

In a press conference Monday, he said 36 cars were broken into, just downtown, between Saturday night and Sunday morning. However, residents said they have bigger concerns besides car break-ins. Some residents we talked to said they’re concerned with short-term rentals (STR’s) being illegally rented out. Along with massive parties happening in downtown buildings that aren’t regulated.

“There are no legal mechanisms that we know of that we can enforce to control these types of rentals. There are ongoing conversations about potential legislation,” Isom explained.

However, News 4 found many cities across the country like San Francisco and New York have laws in place that restrict Airbnb’s and STR’s. Many of those laws are in place to curb crime.

“Nobody’s paying attention to the quality of life issues here,” Arnold said.

City leaders said they’re addressing some of these issues with those directly involved in STR’s like property owners and managers. They said they’re starting with Ely Walker Lofts.

“The district problem properties unit will be meeting this week with management and team, and has recommendations on how to improve the safety of the property,” Isom said.

Residents said these departments have always existed, but the city has failed to utilize them.

“We need the building department, we need liquor licensing, we need the police department, we need building division, we need problem properties, to consistently enforce the existing ordinances,” Stricker said.

Residents also expressed a concern with the city’s block party on Washington Avenue that’s being hosted on Friday, April 29. Residents saying they’d rather see the more pressing issues like STR’s, massive parties and violent crime addressed before throwing block parties.

News 4 reached out to both Isom and SLMPD’s Chief John Hayden for interviews Monday. Neither were available.