DWP Can Now Cut Utilities to Properties Hosting Large Gatherings

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Department of Water and Power today will be authorized to shut off utilities to properties of repeat offenders who host large gatherings and parties in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that by tonight he will allow the DWP to shut off utilities to homes and businesses that host “egregious'' gatherings amid the pandemic.

“We're Angelenos, we like to be with each other, we like to be around people, we want to see our friends and family, and I know how tough these months have been for all of us,'' Garcetti said Wednesday, one day after a gang-related shooting at a large party at a mansion in Beverly Crest north of Beverly Hills left a 35-year-old mother of three dead and two other people hospitalized.

“Everything that we are doing, though, everything we individually and collectively are sacrificing depends on each one of us doing our part to reduce infections, hospitalizations and deaths.''

The mayor's announcement came during a week that saw three large-scale parties make headlines -- one at a Hollywood bar, a wedding reception in the Holmby Hills and the Beverly Crest incident.

The Holmby Hills wedding reception occurred Wednesday night, hours after Garcetti made the announcement that the city could shut off utilities to properties that host such gatherings amid the pandemic.

Garcetti said the house parties usually take place at short-term rental homes, but the city's house party ordinance prohibits gatherings that could cause risks to people's health and safety.

That law includes a series of escalating fines on both the party host and homeowner, as well as possible misdemeanor charges for repeat offenders.

“The consequences of these large parties ripple far beyond just those parties; they ripple throughout our entire community because the virus can quickly and easily spread,'' Garcetti said. “While we have already closed all nightclubs and bars, these house parties have essentially become night clubs in the hills.''

Garcetti said if the city's authorities see repeat offenses at a property, the city can shut down that property's utilities within 48 hours of the violation.

“We have the right to be able to make sure that more lives are not lost,'' Garcetti said.

Councilman David Ryu on Wednesday filed a motion asking for similar punishments for people who host large gatherings and parties. At those gatherings, Garcetti said people were seen not social distancing or wearing masks.

Penalties from Ryu's motion could include permit prohibitions or having a certificate of occupancy held or revoked in addition to utility shutoffs.

Ryu's motion seeks to bring the Department of Building and Safety,Department of City Planning , Department of Water and Power, and the Housing and Community Investment Department together to identify code violations that threaten public health and well-being.

The motion further requests the city attorney to draft an ordinance based on the recommendations to hold property owners accountable for illegal parties held at their locations that threaten public health.

Ryu's motion will first be heard by the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

Also railing against large gatherings was Councilman Paul Koretz.

“I am asking that the full weight of the law be brought to bear in addressing these issues,'' Koretz said in a letter dated Tuesday. “The path forward does not include compromise. Rather, the mission must be to maintain order and safety in our residential neighborhoods, especially during one of the most challenging times in our city's history.''

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