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

GWNC Discusses Party House and Other Issues with CD 13 City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez

GWNC board members at last night’s meeting.

As part of his ongoing visits to each neighborhood council in his district, City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez visited the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council last night and discussed a number of local issues – the lengthiest of which was neighbors’ efforts to shut down a notorious party house at 300 N. Plymouth Blvd.

City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez at last night’s GWNC board meeting.

Both GWNC board members and a group of neighbors identifying themselves as the North Plymouth Blvd. Coalition told the Councilmember that they feel their numerous, meticulously documented complaints about the property – which hosts frequent large, loud gatherings that disrupt the neighborhood and appear to violate many city laws regarding noise, parking, alcohol sales, and underage drinking, as well as the city’s party house and short-term rental ordinances – have gone unheard by both Soto-Martinez’s office and the City Attorney’s office. The situation is particularly frustrating they said, because the violations have been so extreme and so numerous. (For example, there were 19 complaints logged with the city for just one recent party with more than 400 attendees.) Both neighbors and board members said the situation is so clear, it should be simple for the city to cite the property owners and shut down the illegal parties.

Soto-Martinez said he shares the neighbors’ desire to shut down the illegal parties, and that if residents are feeling unheard by his office, he wants to know about it. He also assured the board and neighbors that he and his staff are definitely aware of the issues at this particular property, and that when he first heard about it, he contacted the City Attorney’s office right away, and it, too, responded immediately and assigned someone to work on it.

That said, however, Soto-Martinez also said that while various city departments (along with the offices of California State Assembly Members Maria Elena Durazo and Rick Chavez Zbur) are working on the issue, it does take a while for all those involved to coordinate their efforts and to take action. Also, he said, the existing party house law does have some shortcomings that can make enforcement challenging, and although the city council is working to address those issues, he said, legal proceedings that can create the kind of permanent solution everyone wants take time to play out.  But “rest assured,” he said, “I want this to end.”

But that answer didn’t satisfy most stakeholders at last night’s meeting, and many board members and neighbors said faster action is needed…or, as GWNC board member John Gresham put it in medical terms, you need to heal an active wound before you can address the larger underlying disease.

Neighborhood coalition spokesperson Sam Uretsky, who said the group has received much more help from the Neighborhood Council and our two local state assembly districts than CD 13, asked Soto-Martinez if his office could organize a meeting including neighbors and all the necessary city departments, to work out an action plan. Soto-Martinez replied that he’s sorry the neighbors are feeling so frustrated right now, and that he would be happy to organize a meeting to help convey information about the city’s efforts…but he said the plan is actually already in place and being carried out by the city. Finally, he also invited residents to get involved with efforts to strengthen the city’s home-sharing/short-term rentals ordinance, which includes party house rentals. (Read more about about the motion to improve enforcement of the Home Sharing ordinance in Council File 14-1635-S12, and a newer, more specific effort to strengthen party house enforcement in Council File 12-1824-S2.  Public comments can be submitted on both pages.)

Although Soto-Martinez’s time at the meeting was limited, board members raised several other issues of concern, including how proposed revisions to the city’s Housing Element of its General Plan may affect local neighborhoods.  GWNC board member Cindy Chvatal-Keane asked Soto-Martinez why the city appears to be up-zoning various parts of the city to make room for as many as 1.4 million new housing units when the state’s mandated housing targets require re-zoning for only about 255,000 units.  Chvatal-Keane also said that while she has spoken to thousands of people about this issue over the last year and a half, very few are aware of the details of the Housing Element proposal, or its implications for existing neighborhoods.  And it’s even more frustrating, she said, because there is currently no city council file number for the Housing Element, so there is no way for the public to weigh in with comments. “Planning has shut us out,” Chvatal-Keane said.

On this issue, too, Soto-Martinez said that if people feel they aren’t being heard, he wants to address the concerns and would be happy to have his staff come back to the GWNC to “download what’s happening” with the Housing Element.

During the discussion with the Councilmember, several other issues were raised, too, but due to his limited window of availability (he had to speak at another neighborhood council immediately after his GWNC visit), most of those were not fully discussed.

Other Business

In his President’s Report, GWNC president Conrad Starr reported that state Senate Bill 411, which could once again allow neighborhood councils the option of meeting online instead of, or in addition to, their current in-person meetings, has passed both the state assembly and the state senate, and is now waiting for Governor Gavin Newsom to sign it into law.

Sherwin Shamoeil, field deputy for 51st District Assembly Member Rick Chavez Zbur, who voted to support SB411, said that once the governor signs the measure, it will still have to be activated by our local city government, so it will probably be November before our local NCs can resume online meetings.  That said, though, Shamoeil said the law will provide lots of flexibility for individual neighborhood councils.  Only one in-person meeting will be required each year, and the rest could be either in-person or online, or a hybrid of the two, depending on what works best for each group.  The catch, though, Shamoeil said, is that the law will be in effect for only two years, after which it will need to be re-authorized.  (A discussion of more specific online meeting plans for the GWNC had been agendized for last night’s meeting, but to save time, and because the governor has not yet signed the bill into law, Starr postponed the discussion until next month.)

In other discussions, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment representative John Darnell reminded GWNC and community members that the city’s annual Congress of Neighborhoods, which he called “the city’s open house,” where attendees can connect with people from almost every city department, is coming up on September 23.  The event is free and open to all; registration is available at

Next, Committee members were voted in for the GWNC’s Outreach, Quality of Life, and Resilience Committees. GWNC board members Charles D’Atri and Gary Gilbert were elected chairs of the Quality of Life and Resilience Committees, respectively.

No specific land use projects were discussed this month, though Land Use Committee chair Brian Curran reported on the committee’s recent discussion contemplating a neighborhood council initiative asking the Planning Department to require, via inspections, that conditions negotiated by neighbors with developers actually do make it into the built versions of their projects.  No votes were taken, but board members commented that some zoning administrators do enshrine the negotiated conditions in their letters of determination, while others do not, and seem to consider neighbors’ and neighborhood councils’ input as advisory only.

Next, the GWNC board voted, based on a recent speaking request from congressional candidate Mike Feuer, to allow candidates for federal-level offices five minutes to speak at GWNC board meetings.

And finally, because its Ebell of Los Angeles meeting space will not be available on its usual second-Wednesday meeting date next month, the board voted to move its November meeting to Tuesday, November 7, at 6:30 p.m.

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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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  1. Thank you for your informative reporting and interviews regarding the judicial system and the separation of minor children from their parents, and especially addressing racial disparity.


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