One LA warehouse closure since Oakland fire, more may be coming

FILE PHOTO: Los Angeles authorities have shut down one warehouse since a Dec. 2 fire at an Oakland warehouse, pictured here, killed 36 people.
FILE PHOTO: Los Angeles authorities have shut down one warehouse since a Dec. 2 fire at an Oakland warehouse, pictured here, killed 36 people.

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The Los Angeles Fire Department shut down one warehouse — the DIY club Purple 33 near the Culver City border — following this month's deadly Oakland fire. But it may not be the only closing, a department spokesman said Thursday.

The Oakland fire on Dec. 1 killed 36 people, spurring cities nationwide to comb neighborhoods for unsafe structures that are housing people without required permits.

"If we find situations that are presenting life and safety hazard and a risk, we will take enforcement action under the fire code," said Peter Sanders, spokesman for the L.A. fire department.

Sanders said the Purple 33 building had been illegally converted into a performance space with a D.J. booth and dance floor, as well as living quarters. There were "pretty obvious and egregious" examples of fire code violations, such as illegal electrical wiring and lack of fire extinguishers.

Meanwhile, the  Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is re-examining complaints it has received over the last several years regarding people illegally living in warehouses.

Spokesman David Lara said the department wants to "make sure that nothing has happened since then that could put people back in harm’s way."

Lara said the review began in the last week and involves at least a dozen complaints about warehouses.

Authorities said they still need the public's help to find unsafe properties because the city is so big; thousands of commercial buildings are spread across almost 470 square miles.

Lara said since the Oakland fire, his department has "gotten a few (complaints) but it hasn’t been an extreme surge." Those with information about unsafe buildings can call 311 or file a complaint on the LADBS.org website

Last week, City Attorney Mike Feuer convened a task force including public safety and building safety officials to address illegal residences in warehouses. Feuer said the goal is to be more aggressive in addressing problem properties, "as opposed to being reactive."

Two weeks ago, his office filed criminal and civil complaints against a warehouse on Pico Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles. He said tenants lived in the building although it lacked permits allowing residential use. Officials also say the structure had numerous health and safety violations.

Feuer told KPCC that a court hearing is scheduled Jan. 6 on the city's request to appoint a receiver who would take over the Pico warehouse and operate it to rehabilitate the building and protect its tenants.