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Santa Monica Influences Proposed “Party House” Regulation In L.A.:

Los Angeles generally considers itself an influential civic leader in crafting policies that set the standard for similar laws to be emulated elsewhere. Sometimes, the influential policy making actually occurs a few miles to the west in Santa Monica. This week, the Los Angeles Public Safety Committee is weighing in on a motion to regulate “party houses” in the same vein as how Santa Monica regulated the “House of Rock.”

Exactly one week after Santa Monica banned large private parties from taking place at the “House of Rock” on La Mesa Drive in November 2012, two Los Angeles council members began looking into drafting an ordinance to regulate the “proliferation of ‘party houses’” in their city.

More than 20 months later, Los Angeles’ Planning and Land Use Management Committee and Board of Police Commissioners chimed in on the motion introduced by Council member Tom LaBonge and co-sponsored his Westside colleague, Council member Paul Koretz.

The City’s Public Safety Committee is next up in helping draft a “party house” regulation, with the LaBonge-Koretz motion scheduled to be heard today, Aug. 8 at City Hall.

“Party houses” are private residences rented out to promoters for a day or weekend. The promoters in turn advertise the residence as a party venue, many times on a Friday or Saturday. An admission is charged for attending partygoers. According to LaBonge’s motion, these “party houses” could draw thousands of attendees to a home in a residential neighborhood.

Some of the nuisances that the House of Rock in Santa Monica were alleged with were similarly echoed in LaBonge’s motion for an ordinance.

Specifically, LaBonge’s motion said “party houses” are “known for generating excessive noise, parking problems, illicit drug use, and sale of alcohol.”

When the Santa Monica City Council passed an ordinance in November 2012 banning parties of at the House of Rock, City staff stated parties at the La Mesa residences posed safety issues to the neighbors and disrupted the neighborhood’s “quietude.”

Thanks to the House of Rock, Santa Monica now has an ordinance on the books that reads: “No person shall operate a single family residential property for a commercial purpose including, but not limited to, as an event facility.”

The ordinance goes on to define an “event facility” as a place used for commercial gatherings of 150 people or more at one time. Even more, the City does not issue licenses or permits allowing private residences to be used for large commercial events.

Newport Beach in Orange County also banned “large or unruly gatherings” at private residences.

A similar law was enacted in Malibu, though a permit can be granted for some special events.

Over in Los Angeles, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and the Board of Police Commissioners recommend the City’s leaders move forward with an ordinance regulating “party houses.”

“Based on past experience, research, and consultation with interested stakeholders, it would be beneficial to enact an ordinance to address ‘party houses,’” a fact sheet issued by the Los Angeles Police Department’s chief of detective stated. “The ordinance language should be crafted in such a way as to include a variety of locations and dwellings, as nuisance party locations are hosted in apartments, storefronts, warehouses, parking lots, and a variety of other venues.”

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office reportedly recommended potential penalties include community service, landowner fines, and property liens.

“Commercial ‘party houses’ have historically had a host of negative affects on residential communities,” the LAPD fact sheet continued, adding any ordinance enacted by the City Council should incorporate the best practices of the similar ordinance in Santa Monica.

Unlike Santa Monica, one of those negative impacts involves large parties on narrow and windy residential streets in a hilly neighborhood.

“Large private homes, often on narrow hillside streets, are often rented out to promoters who charge admission to parties which can draw several thousand people per night,” the LaBonge-Koretz motion stated.

It could still take quite some time before a proposed ordinance comes before the Los Angeles City Council. Should a law against “party houses” ultimately be put into the books in Los Angeles, it appears Santa Monica would have played a significant role in its intent and execution.

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