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Manhattan Beach security battle

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Super-safe Manhattan Beach may be getting a second neighborhood patrol because two feuding civic groups can’t agree on who should be keeping an eye on ne’er-do-wells in the tony seaside neighborhood — but neighbors say such a move could make it more difficult to patrol the area.

The Manhattan Beach Community Group says it wants to create a second unarmed neighborhood security force to work alongside the 40-year-old Beachside Neighborhood Patrol, claiming that patrol is mishandling its financing — which includes a voluntary $400 per household from neighbors who want to pitch in.

The independently run patrol almost folded last year due to a cash problem, but was saved after an increase in financial support from residents.

In the past, Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman has refused to let the patrol make presentations at his meetings unless it disclosed financial information such as its Tax ID number and the name of its bookkeeper.

The Community Group passed a motion calling for “a committee to explore the formation of a new security patrol.” Zalcman envisions the contracted guards using “state-of-the-art” cameras and other surveillance equipment to crack down on burglars, vandals and loiterers. He wouldn’t specify how much the new force would cost homeowners.

Yet locals say that two perp-prowlers may not be better than one.

“For this to work, the two patrols would need to coordinate with one another to make sure they’re not overlapping each other’s coverage areas,” said resident Stan Kaplan at a meeting on June 15.

And Beachside Neighborhood Patrol president Ted Kleynerman maintains that he is not misappropriating funds and has already addressed all of Zalcman’s financial concerns. He added that he is vehemently against a second neighborhood watch.

“A second security group would fragment the community,” Kleynerman said.

The “exploratory committee” motion did not pass unanimously, as four Community Group members opposed the initiative.

And some say that Zalcman’s Beachside beef has nothing to do with money. Rather, they insist that his issues began when former Neighborhood Patrol president Albert Hasson split from Zalcman’s civic to join the offshoot Neighborhood Association, a Jets-like rival to the Community Group’s Sharks. Since the split, the two civics have bickered over everything from bike lanes to beach barbecue rules.

“They’re being childish and selfish,” said Neighborhood Association member Edmund Dweck, a Beachside supporter. “Civic associations are supposed to put their personal issues aside.”

Beachside was founded by residents around 1970 and currently keeps an eye out for 200 households, who pay annual dues of $400. The group contracts the private firm Bay Ridge Security to provide an unarmed guard and patrol car for nine, eight-hour shifts per week, according to Kleynerman. Guards can’t make arrests, but they often call the cops when they notice shady activities and occasionally “hold down” an alleged perp until Police arrive. In April, residents reported three car break-ins to Beachside, according to Kleynerman.

According to law enforcement sources, Manhattan Beach had only 20 major crimes in 2011, most of which were grand larcenies, which can range from cases of identity theft and car break-ins. In 2010 there were 22 major crimes, though two were felony assaults.

Updated 3:08 pm, October 19, 2011
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