DEAR WEHO 📬 House fires were eerily similar

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Laura Grenfell of the Sunset Square Neighborhood Association shared her correspondence with the city of Los Angeles about a fire that destroyed an empty home in her neighborhood, and the incident’s similarity to a recent fire in West Hollywood.


Hello Brandon,

I’m writing to you based on this recent article that you wrote:

WeHo knew this house was a fire hazard https://wehoonline.com/2023/11/24/weho-knew-house-fire-hazard/ 

A vacant 1547 N Sierra Bonita burned to the ground on 10/18.  You can see the correspondence about the property below.  Everything you wrote about 1030, you could slot in 1547, and it’s the same situation.  Just two streets to the east, vacant 1601 N Vista burned to the ground on 7/1.  The intensity of these fires in a small radius and short time window seems to defy the odds. 

On one hand, we are staring to seriously wonder if there is an arsonist targeting vacant structures in this area.  On the other hand, we are mystified that in both West Hollywood and LA we are allowing developers/owners to wreak havoc on their neighbors for years via the dangerous conditions these vacant properties create, not to mention the drain on city resources.  Not only do these developers/owners suffer no financial penalties, in the case of 1547, the developer will increase his profits handsomely because he doesn’t have to preserve a historic home and because he can now split the lot into two lots. 

Just wanted to pass this along in case it’s useful in any way.

— Laura G.

 


 

Grenfell’s letters to the city of Los Angeles and to developer Daniel Aspen sent in October.

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Hi Ethan,

After two+ years of negligence on the part of the developer who purchased this home to flip it, 1547 N Sierra Bonita has now tragically burned to the ground.  You can see our initial communications with the developer, Daniel Aspen, on 12/9/21, and my email to him this morning. 

First, is there any recourse that you as city attorney have to hold this developer accountable?  He was the steward of a magnificent historic resource, and now it is gone (see old pic at the bottom).  If you pull the police and fire department records, you will see the amount of city resources that have been devoted to this vacant structure.  Almost zero work had been done at this property, and there has been zero care to protect the neighbors from the ongoing security issues.  This morning’s fire could have been far worse if the police officer’s hadn’t seen the flames from Sunset. 

Second, can someone please enact a vacancy tax in this city?  I know it has been batted around previously, but this is a policy that has the potential to make a giant difference here.  If developers/owners were facing escalating financial penalties to hold properties, then we wouldn’t have so many creating their multitude of resource-sucking safety issues, and we would have more supply of much needed housing.  In addition, anyone holding a vacant structure should be billed for police and fire calls to the property, and these billings should escalate with each subsequent call. 

Please let us know if there is anything you can do or anything we can do.  The others on this email are neighbors who woke up to police officers pounding on their doors at 4:30 am. 

Just to put a fine point on it, Ethan, that’s an inferno.  And the developer (who has done almost nothing for two+ years) has already filed for and received a demo permit.  Please let us know what the city is doing to investigate.  The neighbors could have died, sustained serious injuries, and/or lost their homes. 

 


 

Hi Daniel,

Your house has burned to the ground.  The neighbors are beyond lucky to have their lives and their houses still standing.  Police officers patrolling Sunset saw the flames, called the Fire Department and started ringing bells.  The destructive impact that your decisions have caused is beyond words.

Laura Grenfell


 

Hi all, 

We sincerely apologize for all the inconveniences. We had checked on the house a couple times before and did not see anyone there. Upon seeing your photos from last time, we had ordered the temporary fence. It will be delivered on Wednesday, we will try to expedite it.  

In the meantime, we will put up two outdoor cameras and board up the windows with plywood. We will be visiting the property more often as well. 

We are in process to get permits for remodeling, but as you may know, to get an approval from the HPOZ board review will take multiple months. 

As you are all aware, this situation is unfortunately becoming more common in all neighborhoods in LA. We have a common interest of keeping the neighborhood safe and quiet. 

Below is my cell phone number should you need to reach me. 

Thanks, 

Daniel 

 


 

Hi Daniel–We had a large incident last night at your house. The homeless person we had mentioned had broken into your house and was living in the very back part. Last night he had a loud fight outside the house with his girlfriend where she was screaming for help. Several neighbors called the police and there were about six units here as well as a helicopter to get him out of the house. It went on for about 3 hours.  I have some videos from the night so you can see some of what happened. It also was covered by Citizen.If you could get the security fence up ASAP that would be great.  Also do you know when you’re starting construction?  While it’s empty I’m know as neighbors we would all appreciate a regular security check on the house as well. I had to go out  3 times last night to talk to the police until they finally arrested him around 2 AM. The police also asked for your contact information so I gave them your email address which is all I have.  Would you also give me a contact number as well?—H.S.PS – I’m ccing our neighbors who also witnessed all of this. It woke the whole neighborhood.

 
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hifi5000
hifi5000
2 months ago

Many thanks to Laura Grenfell who share the correspondence with the city of LA regarding a house that burned down recently.I saw the photo at the beginning of the article and if it is the vacant house at 1547 N Sierra Bonita,what a shame it is gone.

The house in an earlier graceful time looked well kept and very majestic.Too bad it couldn’t be restored. Sorry to hear another unimaginative cookie-cutter house will go in its place.

Mike
Mike
2 months ago

West Hollywood is losing Businesses at an Alarming Rate,Soon there will be Abandoned Buildings Everywhere !

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