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Illegal parties on the rise result of COVID-19 lockdown

Homeowners can face prosecution

Isabell Rivera OW Contributor | 7/2/2020, midnight

Although the hospitality industry has essentially vanished since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so-called “party people” became more creative and found ways to work around the policies that closed down L.A. County’s entertainment venues, bars and clubs.

As the Los Angeles Times recently reported, hot spots like the Hollywood Hills have become a favorite destination for party promoters—some even from out of town—to rent spacious rentals for a weekend in order to host illegal parties.

The LAPD warns homeowners will be held accountable for illegal parties. One of the biggest house parties occurred on May 16. When the LAPD crashed the party of more than 100 guests, they then heard gunshots and found a man with an accidental, self-inflicted wound.

Since the Hollywood Hills is a rather quiet neighborhood in comparison to the surrounding area, many residents complain about the constant noise, large groups, public intoxication and urination.

A member of the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, Sheila Irani, told the LA Times that “cabin fever” is to blame for the unrest.

“We tried to get them to wear a mask. They’re walking down our streets in crowds,” she said. ”By the time anything happens, they are up and gone,” she said. “We have houses here with 12 people floating in the pool all day.”

The police department in charge of the area told the LA Times that they saw a surge in phone calls about house parties on Memorial Day weekend, about 15 to 20 percent more than usual for that holiday weekend.

The popular vacation-rental marketplace Airbnb also alerted guests to not host parties during the pandemic and said they will ban any customer violating these guidelines from its platform and will cooperate with the police for further investigations.

Before COVID-19 hit the economy, rules were a bit more lenient.

“Under typical circumstances, Airbnb empowers our hosts to set house rules on events and parties that are appropriate for their communities,” the company said in a news release. “However, these are very different times, and public health must come first.” 

According to CBS News, Airbnb removed 28 listings which the LAPD discovered to be “chronic party houses.” But not every property on the list was an Airbnb listing, according to the business.

The 911 calls about noise and disturbances in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood is especially daunting for the LAPD to address.

“It is taking up a lot of officers’ time,” Captain Steve Lurie told the LA Times.

According to the LA City Attorney’s office, homeowners who have a track record of renting to party hosts might not get away without any consequences.

“If police are called to the location of a party, there will be consequences,” Ethan Weaver, the Hollywood-area prosecutor for the city attorney’s office said. “The consequences can range from a citation up to criminal prosecution and six months in jail. Those consequences don’t just apply to the person throwing the party; it can apply to ... the homeowner. If your house has been cited for a party violation in the past, you as a property owner, can be held responsible even if you are not present.”