Hillside communities face many safety concerns, from tour buses barreling down too-narrow streets, to brush fires and evacuation plans. I've championed legislation to regulate unsafe tour bus routes, elevate the brush clearance standards, shut down unsafe party houses, and worked with our emergency first responders on making every hillside community prepared for an emergency.
In working with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the City Attorney's Office, and our hillside Neighborhood Councils, we found that there were many individuals running party houses out of our hillside communities - renting out private homes as full-time de facto nightclubs, disrupting residential communities and putting neighbors in harm's way. What's worse, there were few effective enforcement mechanisms to stop these professional party house operators from continuing to run all-night events out of these hillside communities.
That's why I introduced an ordinance on loud or unruly gatherings, also known as the ‘Party House Ordinance,’ which penalizes both the party host and property owner with escalating fines and new enforcement tools for the LAPD. The ordinance passed in 2018, and includes fines up to $8,000, and requires those who violate the ordinance to post a public notice for 30 days notifying neighbors of their unlawful conduct. It also bars violators from participating in home-sharing. To ensure enforcement, we secured funding in the City Budget specifically for an LAPD Party House detail, and ensured those officers had the training on how to enforce the new law.
Short Term Rentals
In partnership with LAPD and the Department of City Planning, we were also able to pass a Home Sharing Ordinance in 2018. The ordinance, in conjunction with the Party House Ordinance, has significantly cut down on the number of homes in the hillsides that operate as businesses and party houses.
The ordinance established a legal process for residents to rent their primary residences to short-term visitors, with a stay of less than 30 days. It requires the homeowner to register online, verify that they are the primary resident, ensure that they are not a RSO (Rent Stabilized) listing, and have no enforcement citations from the Department of Building and Safety, Housing Department or the Police/Fire Department. The unit/home will only be allowed to host for 120 days a year. Hosts will also be responsible for providing a Code of Conduct to all guests which will include information on safety and security requirements as well as good-neighbor principles. Additionally, amplified sound is not permitted after 10 p.m. and no evening outdoor congregations of more than 8 people are permitted. The Host may be responsible for any nuisance violations which occur at the property, even if they are committed by guests.
We were able to work with our State colleagues to get local authority to approve an ordinance prohibiting the use of loudspeakers, or any other sound amplifying equipment, on unenclosed tour buses in the City of Los Angeles. I promptly introduced this ordinance and it was approved by the City Council on June 5th, 2018. The Hollywood Hills are not a theme park, and the stream of tour buses with loudspeakers created a constant din in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.
I am currently working with the Department of Transportation on an ordinance banning tour buses from traveling down narrow, unsafe hillside streets that are unable to accommodate their large size and weight. We are expecting this Ordinance to be adopted by the City Council in 2020.
The number one threat to public safety in our hillsides is fire - and addressing this threat means raising safety standards, reducing risk, and ensuring that communities are prepared.
I worked with the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) and my City Council colleagues to increase brush clearance requirements and fire safety in Very High Fire Severity Zones (VHFSZ) throughout the hills, including bans on metal weed whackers and bans on brush clearance during red flag days. We also increased enforcement against smoking in Griffith Park and our hillsides, with fines up to $1,000 and new signs alerting visitors of the rules. We've continued to work with LAFD West to practice evacuation drills throughout the hillsides, and create emergency response plans specific to each neighborhood.
We also fought to protect our most fire-prone hillsides by prohibiting new detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in both the hillsides and Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones unless they meet stringent fire safety rules, including mandatory automatic fire sprinklers. Over development can threaten hillside integrity, increase fire risk, and further endanger communities with limited evacuation routes, and that's why CD4 staff have attended every hearing on the ADUs ordinance to push for this common sense regulation.
Our community is strongest when we work together, and I've been proud to partner with the community and the LAFD to host numerous drills, town halls and meetings. We've focused our efforts on disseminating crucial information on how to prevent fires, and how to prepare yourself for an evacuation. As always, I am proud to support our incredible firefighters and firehouses across Council District Four for their work to keep us safe.