Clearly, you had a horrible experience. As any experienced buyer, renter or landlord knows, apartment rentals can pose a potential for shady risk in any area of Southern California.
I write to you about the residential area south of Mountain View Road on Peck Road, which is very neighborhood oriented. Many families have been there for decades. I hear there are several police officers living in the area, too. If it is good enough for them, it must be somewhat safe.
As with any neighborhood, if you are unfamiliar with the local folks, you might step on toes. Yes, there is one main gang in El Monte, but you will find that they will leave you alone if you are courteous. There is a good neighbor policy to maintain with anybody for optimal safety. You never know who owns the house next to yours or even across the street. To be perfectly frank, I have experienced more courtesy from local gang members who may be willing to help you at reasonable rates than some contractors and neighbors. The police in El Monte are impressive and willing to communicate. They really support their local community. The folks at City Hall, Planning and Building are very helpful. They now have a dedicated animal control so that Baldwin Park no longer handles it.
Many Asians are coming to El Monte investing in businesses and homes. They are often seen at City Hall or Home Depot. El Monte is such as vast city. It has so many varied areas. It does need more development and major retailers to come in and invest in the local community. It just depends on where you live because most neighbors are family-oriented and willing to help.
One person's horror story does not represent the entire community. To allow that would short-change the entire City. There is so much potential. This is a great area to develop and modernize considering its huge size and central location. It is such a complex city. You see horses being walked on the street at times. You see mainly Hispanic, Asian and sometimes even African-Americans or Caucasians nowadays. I would love to see more young, modern, trendy, tech-oriented, artsy families and companies come to El Monte. Perhaps that would inspire the environment quite a bit. Changes are slowly coming. Jobs are surely needed in the community because there are many whom have returned home to care for elderly parents and are on public assistance.
El Monte perhaps needs a name change. It's huge and central. There are lots of people that live there. It's got its own airport, just like Santa Monica. In many ways, it's kind of like Santa Monica in size and socio-economic differences. You've got the dirt poor areas in Santa Monica along with the more affluent ones.
Before listening to a negative review, do the full research. Find out what an area has to offer. Santa Monica offers a local college, technology companies, a promenade, pier and the beach. El Monte offers, Whittier Narrows Legg Lake, Valley Mall, near proximity to several desirable cities, surrounded by all major freeways, and more.