NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Neighbors had been complaining for years. “My dog kept picking up the chicken bones their customers threw on our lawns.” “They would start at 1 pm and keep going till 1 am.” The 2918 S. Rimpau residence responsible for the community distress was owned by Vincent Bowens and called Dilly’s Kitchen (photo below left). He served Jamaican food which won great online reviews and had a strong following that grew as hipsters discovered it. Dilly’s was even registered with the city. Only one problem. It was a commercial enterprise in a residential zone. It was illegal. Bowens who had a large kitchen facility in his backyard, claimed he only ran a catering business but the customers coming and going all day and the online reviews spoke differently.
Then it happened. In the early hours of a recent Saturday morning there was a shoot out that left 4 people dead and 12 injured. One of the men killed, Robert Davis, also known as Rodigan, was a reputed Jamaican gang leader from Kingston. Two Jamaican men Mowayne McKay, 33 and Diego Reid 25 were booked shortly after and released when prosecutors realized they needed more evidence to file charges. Their attention soon turned to a Jamaican national named Marlon Jones who was immediately put on the FBI's Most Wanted list, the 510th person since the list's creation in 1950. On Dec. 3rd it was reported that they had taken a man into custody believed to be the suspect.
Prior repeated complaints to the police and Building and Safety about the nuisance yielded no results for the neighbors. It took these murders to finally shut down Dilly's. Mr. Bowens is headed back to Jamaica.
In another part of mid-city, several neighbors express distress over another weekly party house with its loud discussions that turn into loud arguments as the booze flows and the evening wears on. Because it isn’t illegal to have a party it is very difficult to prove that money is exchanging hands for either entry, liquor, food or all of the above. Vice needs to be called in, and undercover detectives have to get involved.
But there may be relief for neighbors who have to endure these noisy, relentless, and disrespectful to the community, illegal party houses. Apparently it has been a huge problem in Councilmember Ryu’s District 4 which includes part of the Hollywood Hills where houses are sometimes bought for the express purpose of being rented out for parties. So early in November Councilmember Ryu introduced legislation which was passed unanimously by City Council. It instructed the City Attorney, in consultation with the Los Angeles Police Department to draft an ordinance regulating party houses.
From Ryu’s Motion
“Unfortunately, our current enforcement tools (LAMC 41.57, 41.58, 12.27.1, 112.01(b), and 116.01) are not strong enough. Enforcement by LAPD of the City’s noise ordinance does not provide the police enough tools to discourage the next offense. Additional tools in our building codes are almost impossible to enforce as there is little to no building inspector availability on a Friday or Saturday night when most parties occur. Over the years, the City has attempted to grapple with this problem. Motions have been introduced (CFs 02-2476, 06-1231,07-0184, 12-1824) on multiple occasions over the past fifteen years to deal with this problem, to no avail.”
His ordinance instructs the City Attorney to draft a motion that will return to City Hall for approval. It includes the following:
- Adds additional activities typically found at an unruly party as a ‘nuisance per se’ that LAPD can identify as being associated with a “Party House”;
- Provides for escalating fines for successive violations to both the party host and, crucially, the property owner;
- Requires posting a public notice of violation on the property, that will serve to notify the neighborhood that the property is under a violation period of a set number of days where addition unruly parties will lead to higher fines or even criminal charges for excessive numbers of violations;
- Includes liens on properties for property owners who fail to pay fines;
- Includes additional fines for commercial events or parties held at a residential unit;
- Includes a prohibition on any home-sharing or short-term rental activity during a posted notice of violation period.
Looks like the party's over.
(Dianne V. Lawrence is editor/publisher of The Neighborhood News, a community magazine in Mid-City and is Editor-at-Large for CityWatch Neighborhood Politics.)