City leaders react to ongoing downtown violence, drag races and massive, unregulated parties

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – After a weekend filled with buzzing cars and motorcycles, large unregulated gatherings and violent crime, downtown residents said they were fed up. These residents reached out to News 4 for answers, while blaming city leaders.

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

Arnold lives in downtown Washington Avenue. She said last weekend was particularly difficult when it came to the plethora of issues residents are facing.

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

Stricker is one of nearly two dozen whose car was broken into early Sunday morning. News 4 spoke to you for the first time this Sunday evening, showing surveillance video of four teenagers breaking into the Printers Lofts garage. We also told you about a suspected illegal rooftop party at Ely Walker Lofts on Saturday night.

Now city leaders are revealing new information about what happened over the weekend.

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

At a press conference on Monday, he said 36 cars were broken into, just downtown, between Saturday evening and Sunday morning. However, residents said they had bigger concerns than car break-ins. Some residents we spoke to said they were concerned that short-term rentals (STRs) were illegally rented. With massive parties taking place in downtown buildings that are unregulated.

“To our knowledge, there is no legal mechanism that we can apply to control these types of rentals. There are ongoing conversations about potential legislation,” Isom explained.

However, News 4 discovered that many cities across the country, such as San Francisco and New York, have laws in place that restrict Airbnbs and STRs. Many of these laws are in place to fight crime.

“Nobody pays attention to quality of life issues here,” Arnold said.

City leaders said they are addressing some of these issues with those directly involved in STRs, such as landlords and property managers. They said they were starting with Ely Walker Lofts.

“The district’s problem property unit will be meeting this week with management and the team, and have recommendations on how to improve security at the property,” Isom said.

Residents said these departments have always existed, but the city has not used them.

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

Residents also expressed concern about the city’s block party on Washington Avenue being held on Friday, April 29. Residents said they would rather see more pressing issues like STRs, mass parties and violent crime addressed before they hold block parties.

News 4 reached out to Isom and SLMPD leader John Hayden for interviews on Monday. Neither were available.

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