Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Wilshire Division Captain Clarifies LAPD Procedures for Party House Complaints

310 North Lucerne Blvd., a home in Larchmont Village that has been the subject of frequent party complaints in recent months.

Over the last few months, complaints about party houses have risen both in our own neighborhoods and across the city.  In response, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced that the city would start shutting off utility services to houses that continue to host large gatherings in violation of local party, Safer at Home, and short-term rental rules.

While many aggrieved neighbors have hoped Garcetti’s order would bring a quick end to the problem, however, some people may not be aware that despite the new order, there is still a city procedure that must be followed before a party complaint escalates to the point that utilities can be shut off.   In fact, LAPD Wilshire Division Captain Shannon Paulson wrote in a recent letter to the community that  “I have gotten a LOT of questions about why the utilities haven’t been shut off immediately when officers have responded to a large, unruly party.”

So Paulson went on to explain, in the letter, how LAPD now responds to party house complaints, the process the city goes through before it can shut off utilities at problem properties, and how utility shutoffs are not something the police do when they respond to parties in progress.  We thought her message was worth sharing with our wider community:


“I realize there is a lot of concern and frustrations surrounding the parties and gatherings that are happening in some of our residential neighborhoods. While large parties and occasional inconsiderate neighbors are an issue which exists from time to time, they appear to have become more prolific under Covid. This, we believe, is largely due the emergence of the whole Air BnB, home sharing, short term rental trend, coupled with the fact Covid-19 has caused the closure of nightclubs and bars. Thus, hosting large scale parties in short term rental properties has become a money maker for certain members of our population.

Officers from Wilshire Area will engage in two separate potential avenues to address these parties. One will be the criminal aspect which is pursued in cooperation with our Neighborhood Prosecutors when a problem or nuisance property is identified. This is not designed specifically for party locations, but may be applied under certain circumstances. It has certain requirements regarding documentation, etc. in order to “build” a criminal case against a responsible party.

The second is the highly publicized Mayor’s directive regarding large gatherings during the current declared health crisis. This has gained lots of attention due to the potential ramification of utilities being shut off by DWP. As a result, I have gotten a LOT of questions about why the utilities haven’t been shut off immediately when officers have responded to a large, unruly party.

Please understand the determination to shut the utilities off still requires a process – home owners and responsible parties are entitled to their legal due process, even for an administrative citation like this. Also, please understand the police department has no influence or participation in the determination to shut off someone’s utilities. Consider it similar to a criminal prosecution: officers will make an arrest and complete the appropriate reports, but we have no control over what the courts may or may not do from that point forward.

Under the current guidelines, officers respond and if they see evidence of a significant party/gathering going on at the time of their arrival, they issue an administrative citation to an appropriate person (host, promoter, property owner, renter, etc). They will also post a “notice of warning”. We keep an ongoing record of those properties that have received initial warnings. If/when a second call to the same property is received, even weeks later, we will issue another citation and a “notice of final warning”.

Subsequent to each of these actions, the citations and supporting documentation is forwarded to the City. After the second citation and final notice, the appropriate City authorities (the Mayor’s Office) can review and determine whether orders will be given to the DWP to shut off the utilities.

A couple things that I’d like to make sure everyone understands:

For a citation to be issued and the warning notice posted, the activity must be going on upon officers arrival for them to observe and assess. We recognize there are times our call load pushes these calls lower in priority and it can take some time for us to get there as we handle higher priority calls. But we will respond unless cancelled by the original caller.

Unfortunately, sometimes on a busy night, that delay might translate to the party being over prior to our arrival. This late arrival and lack of first person observation by officers may limit our ability to specifically initiate the Safer LA process, but we will explore other avenues to address the issue if we discover it is an ongoing problem. The record of the call and the officer’s response, regardless of outcome, will be retained for future reference or documentation (ie. to “build a case”).

Officers will make an assessment of what is going on upon their arrival at the call. I expect them to use their judgement in determining what action is appropriate. The focus of both the administrative citation/Safer LA process as well as any criminal/nuisance process are those large “unruly” parties. We will likely not utilize these tools for instances such as a wedding party, a 5 year old’s birthday party, for a loud radio being played by a construction crew, or for a family who is perhaps very excited about Disney’s new Mulan movie release and is playing it too loud on their television.

Even for a very blatant, very unruly, very large party gathering that is still going full steam upon officers arrival, you will not see DWP respond at that precise moment to shut off the utilities. Similarly, my officers do not have the authority to “request” DWP to do this. Please keep in mind this is a process put in place by the elected City leaders, and the police department will fulfill its role in that process as proscribed by that civilian leadership. The final determination and order is up to other government officials.”

So if you have a loud party in your neighborhood, by all means continue to report it to LAPD.  But just keep in mind that while police response is the necessary first step in the city’s response, that larger response for repeat violations is still a process, and it does still take a while to play out through legal and administrative channels.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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