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

Councilmember David Ryu Suggests Shutting Off Utilities to Crack Down on Illegal Party Houses

310 North Lucerne Blvd. has been used as party house for months despite warnings and city citations. Councilmember David Ryu’s plan would turn of water and power until houses are brought into compliance.

In what seems like a brilliantly simply solution, City Councilmember David Ryu has proposed shutting off utilities to properties that are being used illegally as party houses.

According to a his office, Ryu introduced a motion today to increase penalties and deterrence options against property owners who put community health and safety at risk by skirting building and safety rules or city laws, such as the party house ordinance passed in 2018. Penalties could include water and power shutoffs, permit prohibitions, or having a certificate of occupancy held or revoked.

Party houses have been annoying nearby neighbors for years, and now they also present a serious health hazard as they can become “super spreader” sites during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 in a statement released by his office this morning. “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.”

The City’s party house ordinance prohibits any large and unruly gathering “which threatens or interferes with the public health, safety or welfare.” The law, which also began as a motion introduced by Ryu, includes a series of escalating fines on both the party host and homeowner, as well as possible misdemeanor charges for repeat offenders. However, with other public gathering places closed during the pandemic, large house parties have begun to increase in recent weeks, in clear violation of both COVID-19 public health orders and the existing party house ordinance.

Ryu’s new motion seeks to bring the Department of Building and Safety (DBS), Department of City Planning (DCP), Department of Water & Power (DWP), and the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) together to identify code violations that threaten public health and well being, and provide increased deterrence tools aimed at property owners who violate the laws. The motion further requests the City Attorney to draft an ordinance based on these new deterrence tools to hold property owners accountable for illegal parties held at their locations that threaten public health. And, finally, the motion also goes after violators who own multiple properties, saying “the City should not issue permits at one site when the property owner has open violations at other sites.”

“We all know these property owners are providing a breeding ground to spread COVID-19 when groups of party attendees come from different communities gathered without face covering and social distancing then go back to his/her individual communities,” said Emily Chen, a resident of Beverly Grove who has been working with staff at CD5 to close down two houses on her street that are being used illegally for parties and short-term stays.

“What I have learned from dealing with LA City Planning, the council office and LAPD, is there is no one enforcement agency willing to step forward,” wrote Chen in an email to the Buzz. It’s also frustrating, she said, because the burden is still on residents to get LAPD out to write citations, and even when they do, they can’t always shut down the parties. For example, police were called to a party in Beverly Crest this weekend, but it was not shut down and a fatal shooting occurred hours after the police left.

Chen said she’s glad to see Ryu push for better coordination among the agencies, but she worries that the proposal could take a long time to come to fruition, and in the meantime, partys at the houses continue weekly.

“The LADWP should cut the water and power of these mcMansion/mansion party houses. This will create a temporary stop to COVID-19 breeding ground in local communities,” said Chen, a healthcare worker. “This pandemic has been very hard for everyone. There is no treatment for COVID-19, everything is supportive. Everyone should do his/her job by protecting him/herself. Then the healthcare workers can continue to care for the sick and the injured. I am trying not to think about what may happen when flu season comes.”

In the meantime, Chen said she would like to see the pause of all Home Sharing Ordinance (HSO) permits in the city, during the pandemic, and for the city to stop issuing extended home sharing permits. Prompted by concerns about sanitary conditions in home sharing properties during a pandemic, Councilmembers Koretz and Monica Rodriguez introduced a motion in March 2020 calling for a report on the sanitary conditions or a complete halt on home sharing until the pandemic has subsided. The matter was never addressed by the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

“I appreciate Councilman Ryu’s recognition of the lapses in enforcement tools,” said Sam Uretsky, a resident of Larchmont Village who has been working with CD4 to close down an illegal party house on Lucerne Blvd.  “This motion will provide another arrow for the quiver, but only if and when it is adopted and strict enforcement is implemented.”

Like Chen, Uretsky is concerned about how long implementation might take. He also called for more transparency about why LAPD is not issuing more citations.

“This is part of a good long-game strategy, but only if puts an end to Party Houses regardless of COVID. Unfortunately, the motion will take time to adopt. Working groups take time to form and make recommendations,” said Uretsky. “The real issue for neighborhoods affected is that someone needs to address the problem now. For instance, can the Mayor’s office do so by Executive Order? Neighborhoods need transparency into why existing COVID regulations and the Party House Ordinance are not currently being enforced, and why LAPD Patrol officers do not [enforce the rules] and refuse to cite illegal behavior when they arrive on the scene.”

CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz sent a letter to constituents following the deadly shooting this past weekend.

In his letter Koretz wrote:

“Over the course of the last few weeks, the Fifth Council District has become victim to gang-related violence, excessive house parties, and dangerous drag racing street takeovers. From the beginning, I have made clear my position of zero tolerance for this type of criminal behavior and I have asked for full enforcement by LAPD with prosecutions from the City Attorney. Last night’s house party on Mulholland Drive, which resulted in three individuals being injured and one fatality, adds to the immediacy of our need to restore public safety. There is no room for criminal behavior in our neighborhoods or on our streets. This isn’t politics, people are dying. Neighborhoods are scared. We cannot wait another minute longer.

Koretz also called upon LAPD and LAFD to step up enforcement. And he asked the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety and the Los Angeles City Attorney, to “move quickly and swiftly against violators who break the law by hosting illegal gatherings and misusing their properties.”

Finally, Koretz also asked residents to report party houses to LAPD.  If there is no life-threatening emergency, residents should do so by calling LAPD’s non-emergency number, (877) ASK-LAPD, or filing at report online at

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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