Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he has authorized the shutoff of utilities at a home in the Hollywood Hills where several large parties were held in violation of the city’s COVID-19 social distancing orders. Garcetti said the city’s action comes after multiple warnings from law enforcement were issued.
Garcetti wrote on Twitter: “Today I authorized the City to disconnect utility service at a house in the Hollywood Hills to stop the large parties held there in flagrant violation of our public health orders. Parties like these can quickly and easily spread the virus and put our communities at risk.”
The mayor announced on Aug. 5 that he would authorize the Department of Water & Power to shut off utilities to homes and businesses that host “egregious” gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we have already closed all bars and nightclubs, these large house parties have essentially become nightclubs,” said the mayor in early August. He then indicated he would hold homeowners to similar scrutiny: “The same thing we would do with businesses.”
Asked about the legal standing for his action Garcetti said, “You’re breaking the law. Just as we can shut down bars breaking alcohol laws,” he said, “in places that are in criminal violations, we can shut them down.”
He said that city legal experts had vetted the measure and found it to be on firm legal ground.
“We will not act lightly,” Garcetti said, “But we will act.”
Addresses of at least three homes that allegedly were the site of parties during the coronavirus pandemic were recently forwarded to Garcetti’s office to be considered for utility shut-offs.
The Los Angeles Police Department responded to complaints of noisy gatherings and issued citations at 13 homes last weekend, according to the Los Angeles Times. The hosts received warnings that their water and power may be cut if they continue to have parties.
The addresses of two of the homes were forwarded to Garcetti’s office for utility shut-offs to be considered, The Times reported. One of the homes was given an additional warning later that same night after guests failed to disperse.
The other home is “linked to” TikTok star Bryce Hall, and videos of parties were posted online, where guests are seen not wearing masks or following social distance guidelines, according to The Times. The house, which is in Hollywood, continued to be the site of parties after the LAPD warning.
The other 11 addresses were not sent to Garcetti’s office because the guests dispersed after the warning and there have not been additional parties there, The Times reported. However, they have been added to a list of homes that have been warned, and parties continue to be held there, they may be subject to a shut-off.
Garcetti’s office also received a third address of a home that was the site of a party before last weekend, according to The Times.
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.
The LAPD officers’ union pushed back against the potential use of officers in Garcetti’s efforts to shut off utility service at homes where large parties have occurred.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, tweeted its opposition to using officers in utility cutoffs.
“Mayor Garcetti wants to reimagine policing. He should send his civilian staff to turn off people’s electricity & cut off their water,” the
union tweeted Aug. 9.
“Let officers deal with the rise in shootings and killings in LA. We need a leader and not a political contortionist.”
City News Service contributed to this report.