The residents of the 300 block of North Lucerne Blvd., in Larchmont Village, are organizing to try to get the City of LA to close down an illegal party house at 310 N. Lucerne that has been the site of countless parties, attracting hundreds of partygoers, since the beginning of January. So far, the neighbors’ efforts have not been successful, and the area is bracing for another party this weekend.
The saga of the house began in March 2015, when the small Spanish style bungalow at 310 North Lucerne was sold for $1,175,000. Shortly after the sale, the house was torn down. (There is no Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) protecting Larchmont Village homes from demolition, though there are efforts to explore one by local residents.) A new, large home that towered over others nearby was built legally, and placed on the market in May 2016, for $3,475,000. The house changed ownership in August 2018 for $3,000,000 though it was never occupied. Instead it was used as a long-term rental, according to neighbors. Currently, the house is on the market for $3,550,000.
Once the rental ended, however, the neighbors found the house listed as a short term rental on AirBnB (using three different accounts), as well as VRBO and Hotpads, using an improper and denied license number, according to staff in the City Planning Department’s Home Sharing Office (the VRBO and Hotpads listings were recently removed). Neighbors were recently informed that a first and second warning letter has been issued to the property owner of 310 N. Lucerne Blvd. by the city, and the matter has been referred to the Department of Building and Safety, which has issued a citation.
Initially, the short-term rentals resulted in loud, “but not wildly out of scale parties,” according to neighbors who requested anonymity because they’re concerned about harassment by the house party organizers. “LAPD would be called and mostly the parties would be shut down in a timely manner,” they added. (The Buzz spoke with several neighbors who confirmed these events and shared their correspondence with public agencies.)
But starting in January of this year, and accelerating quickly with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation changed dramatically. As the city was shut down by the Mayor’s Stay-At-Home orders to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, activity at 310 N. Lucerne heated up.
Neighbors reported to members of the Larchmont Village Homeowners Association, other residents, and their representatives on the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council seeing “a network of young people either working for or with ownership’s knowledge, and using social media and personal connections to drive business, rather than standard home-sharing sites, turned 310 [North Lucerne] into [a] full-fledged party house with a revolving door of short-term rentals lasting usually a few nights but once up to 30 days,” wrote a nearby resident, who has been watching events unfold. “It is hard to pin down the exact rental durations, since parts of groups remain after initial renters leave and some were interconnected. These rentals have one thing in common: they foster loud, disruptive street behavior day and night, and at night produced parties of extreme size, some as large as 75/100 individuals that last into the early morning hours. During this entire time period, virtually no one entering the house or leaving the house with the exception of food or package delivery people has been seen to be wearing a mask. The upshot is that there has been a de facto COVID-19 Super Spreader House at this location in our neighborhood for as long as there has been a pandemic in Los Angeles.”
Residents have contacted CD4 Councilmember David Ryu’s office for help. Field Deputy Rob Fisher told the Buzz he is working with the various city agencies to address the matter. LAPD has been called numerous times for noise violations, and the prohibition on large gatherings during the pandemic, but neighbors are not aware of any citations issued. Neighbors have been told privately that LAPD would prefer that LADBS or the City Attorney’s Neighborhood Prosecutor’s Program take the lead on enforcement actions. Neighbors have even called the City’s COVID-19 Hotline to report the large gatherings, and were told someone would get back to them within ten days. They haven’t heard anything.
Recently, residents have been advised to direct their concerns to LADBS, the agency charged with enforcing the Home Sharing Ordinance. LADBS has issued citations, but its enforcement process, coordinated with the City Attorney, is a very long process. To date, the only response neighbors have seen is from the city’s parking enforcement office. This past weekend, an officer showed up at the neighbors’ request to issue tickets for cars that were blocking neighbors’ driveways. The photos below were provided by the neighbors, and show the traffic and trash generated by the parties.
Frustrated, the neighbors tell us they dread each weekend fearing what events it will bring.
Finally, we did reach Yuval Ziv, a representative of the company that owns the property, who told us he lives at the house. Ziv denied there were large gatherings and attributed the complaints to a disgruntled neighbor who lives about 15 houses up the block and whom he let live in the house for free for a few nights, while the neighbor’s home was treated for termites. Ziv told us he was investing in additional security cameras and noise “control,” and that no large parties would be happening at the house this weekend. He said he, personally, occasionally entertains small groups of people and he’s only heard from the neighbors once or twice over the last two years.
The poor neighbors to have this happening….as if what all of them are not going through enough now. I hope they get some real help here to shut this down.
The lack of urgency on the part of the Council office is disappointing. An elected official seeking a photo opportunity might respond to the neighbors’ complaints, bringing along relevant enforcement people from the City. We’ve seen enough easy photo-ops from the CD4 office. This matter might be a good opportunity for a tougher one.