A Palm Springs business owner is blaming the city's new police program for an uptick in homeless activity that resulted in a terrifying encounter for one of his employees.
Adrian Alcantar, the owner of Adrian Alcantar Hair Studio and Spa, claims that the police's Operation Relentless Sun, aimed at reducing homelessness and visual blights in the city, is contributing to the problem.
The incident occurred Thursday when three people, who appeared to be homeless, tried to break into the salon while an employee was closing up. Stylist Kendall Kalweit described the harrowing encounter, saying, "There's these three guys outside the salon, and they're pulling on the door, and I'm in here alone. I kept thinking, if they gain access to this salon. What's going to happen here? What are they here to just rob me? Are they here to kill me are? Yeah, there was all kinds of incidents going through my head."
Alcantar said his business has been plagued by aggressive transient behavior, and that police have been called there 47 times in the last three months. He says that Operation Relentless Sun, which involves breaking up homeless camps and displacing people, is only exacerbating the problem, causing an influx of homeless traffic in shopping centers and residential neighborhoods.
"What I'd like to be able to do is just operate my business safely," Alcantar said.
Palm Springs Police Chief Andy Mills said the program is having an impact, with police contacting 340 people living in the city last month and arresting 68, the majority on felony charges.
"We are not going to permit the behaviors that are associated with some of the individuals who seek to harm our community," Mills said.
But some residents and business owners, like Alcantar, remain skeptical of the program's effectiveness.
"Unfortunately, I don't think anybody has the answer," he said.
The incident at Adrian Alcantar Hair Studio and Spa highlights the ongoing issue of homelessness in Palm Springs and the challenges facing city officials as they try to address the problem.
"It's time for the city council to figure out what do we do about this craziness that's going on in this town," Kalweit said during a public comment at a recent council meeting. "This town is not safe and secure, and it hasn't been for a long time."