From City News Service
LOS ANGELES — City Councilman David Ryu has introduced a City Council motion that seeks to increase penalties against property owners who skirt building and safety rules or city laws, such as the Los Angeles party house ordinance.
Ryu said large house parties have increased in recent weeks, in violation of COVID-19 public health orders and the city’s party house ordinance, which became law in 2018.
“Despite a pandemic that has killed thousands in Los Angeles, some homeowners are choosing to put everyone at risk by renting out their homes to massive house parties,” Ryu said. “This is irresponsible bordering on deadly, and it must be stopped. Whether it takes shutting off utilities or revoking their permits, we must do what it takes to shut these party houses down.”
Penalties could include water and power shutoff, permit prohibitions or having a certificate of occupancy held or revoked, according to the motion.
The city’s party house ordinance prohibits any large and unruly gathering “which threatens or interferes with the public health, safety or welfare of the public, Ryu said.
That law includes a series of escalating fines on both the party host and homeowner, as well as possible misdemeanor charges for repeat offenders.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Aug. 5 that he had authorized the Department of Water and Power to shut off utilities to homes or businesses that host such “egregious” gatherings amid the pandemic.
“We’re Angelenos, we like to be with each other, we like to be around people, we want to see our friends and family, and I know how tough these months have been for all of us,” Garcetti said. “Everything that we are doing, though, everything we individually and collectively are sacrificing depends on each one of us doing our part to reduce infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”
But the union that represents rank-and-file Los Angeles police officers wants no part in being part of the city’s enforcement efforts.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, took to social media over the weekend, saying officers don’t want to be involved in utility cutoffs.
“Mayor Garcetti wants to reimagine policing. He should send his civilian staff to turn off people’s electricity & cut off their water,” the union stated. “Let officers deal with the rise in shootings and killings in L.A. We need a leader and not a political contortionist.”
There was no immediate response from the mayor’s office, and the LAPD declined to comment.
Union officials told the celebrity website TMZ.com that officers are unlikely to call the Department of Water and Power and ask for a utility shutoff if they respond to a home and discover a house party. They indicated officers are already concerned about heightened tensions between the community and law enforcement, and they don’t want the additional burden of being responsible to cutting off people’s utilities.
Ryu’s motion seeks to bring the Department of Building and Safety, Department of City Planning, Department of Water and Power, and the Housing and Community Investment Department together to identify code violations that threaten public health and well-being.
The motion further requests the city attorney to draft an ordinance based on the recommendations to hold property owners accountable for illegal parties held at their locations that threaten public health.
It was not immediately clear which council committee would first hear Ryu’s motion.
“Whether it takes shutting off utilities or revoking their permits, we must do what it takes to shut these party houses down.”
— City Councilman David Ryu