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The party's over for LA's party houses

The Los Angeles City Council is cracking down
The Los Angeles City Council is cracking down "party houses" following years of complaints from homeowners in the Hollywood Hills.
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A plan to stiffen penalties on "party houses" in Los Angeles is headed for approval by the City Council after winning the endorsement of two key panels. 

Residents in the Hollywood Hills in particular have complained for years about homes turned into venues for celebrity parties, product launch events and red-carpet gatherings that clog the narrow, serpentine streets with traffic.

Under the proposed regulations approved Tuesday by the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, property owners or those deemed responsible for the party would be hit with fines. First-time offenders would be charged $100 for creating a "loud or unruly" gathering at a residence. With a committee amendment, the penalty would increase with each subsequent offense to $8,000 by the sixth incident.

And for 30 days, a public notice would need to be posted on the front door of the party house that would be large enough to be viewed from the sidewalk. 

Hollywood residents told the council they've been pushing for a crackdown for five years, and lobbied their council member, David Ryu, who introduced legislation in 2016. At Tuesday's planning committee meeting, several residents said they were generally pleased with the proposed ordinance which was modeled after a similar one in Newport Beach. 

"These (parties) are not simply somebody throwing a quinceañera or bar mitzvah or a campaign fund-raiser," said George Skarpelos, vice president of the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council. "They're like a nightclub."

But some other residents wanted the city to get even tougher. Mary Ledding, a member of the Hollywood Hillside Federation, unsuccessfully urged the members of the planning panel to make the first offense $500 as recommended by the City Attorney's office.

"I see no public safety benefit to reduce a fine for a first offense," said Ledding.

The council's Public Safety Committee, which approved the plan at a meeting in October, had recommended making the first offense $100, a change endorsed by the planning panel.

Nick Greif, Ryu's policy director, backed the revision.

"This was added out of the concern that a first-time offender being hit with a $500 fine for what could just be a birthday party that got a little out of control might be seen from members of the public as a little too strong," Greif said. 

Councilman Bob Blumenfield pointed out that some of these properties are advertised on platforms such as Airbnb as "party houses" and questioned whether the renters would be held responsible for past violations at that address. City legal staff said no, but said fines would be increased against renters if they are creating havoc at multiple locations. 

A spokesman for Ryu’s office said a vote by the full council is expected in the coming weeks. 

The City Attorney's office is also targeting party houses. In September, City Attorney Mike Feuer filed criminal complaints related to two properties in the Hollywood Hills.

One case was against the owner of a single-family home in the 7800 block of Electra Drive and the other was against a property manager of a home in the 2600 block of La Cuesta Drive.

This story has been updated.