New docs show downward spiral of Sierra Bonita ‘hell house’

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West Hollywood knew trouble was brewing at the “hell house” at 1030 North Sierra Bonita at least seven months before it went up flames, according to the first batch of materials released by the city in response to WEHOonline’s public records request. 

The batch includes a handful of documents and more than 100 photos of the derelict property that neighbors had reported to the city and sheriffs as a fire hazard and a drug den long before the Thanksgiving Day conflagration. 

City inspectors photographed the property April 20, 2023, to gather evidence of a code violation. Rowan Kelshaw of FMB Development, which owns the property, received notice he had violated the General Vacant Property Standard that same day.

Kelshaw submitted a Vacant Property Registration Form to the city on May 15, 2023. The form noted that the property’s utilities were all off and that it was covered by fire and/or liability insurance. At the time, the property had not been listed for sale or lease. Kelshaw confirmed that his plans were to demolish the house in order to build a five-unit apartment building under Permit #B18-0742.

On the form he wrote, “Property is boarded up. Security company patrolling area. Nightly patrol. Basic maintenance and clean up as and when needed.”

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Code compliance officers visited the site at least six more times between April 20 and November 25, the day of the fire. In their photos, the state of the house and property — full of trash and debris, overgrown with brush, obviously inhabited — shows no measurable improvement over those seven months.

No one was injured in the blaze, but at least two neighbors were left homeless when the fire spread into the apartment building next door. The house was demolished in January. 

Whether additional documents exist that will shed light on the house’s history of neglect — and whether the city will agree to share them — remains to be seen.

FMB Development owns several properties in the vicinity that are in equally concerning shape. The company, owned by Ilan Kelin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for a project in Van Nuys shortly after the Sierra Bonita fire.

 

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Concerned for a year
Concerned for a year
4 months ago

1113 N. Harper is gonna be the next one to end up like this. Me and my neighbors have been submitting complaints to the weho city council/weho app/the sheriffs since last January and nothing has been done. They all refuse to take accountability. “It’s the sheriffs job/it’s the city councils job/it’s housing departments job” and meanwhile the sidewalk next to the building is coated in human feces. But at least we have a dog mayor.

Cy Husain
5 months ago

To think that there are More Vacant Properties than there are unhoused people throughout the country, a solution to both problems should be obvious ❗

Incompetent
Incompetent
5 months ago

Specifically, Vacant Property.
What does that mean? Do any of these city employees know how to write a proper sentence?

And why didn’t the city blank out or redact the address? If I was the owner, I would be calling David Wilson about my personal information being shared online.

Cy Husain
5 months ago

Well maybe some of the Block by Block officers could be trained in Safety and Code Compliance, as they are on patrol they could be authorized to issue citations for violations that they find. Most importantly they need to be like the Drill Sergeant in Full Metal Jacket when dealing with the undisciplined residents of West Hollywood that extends well beyond the unhoused❗

It’s Happening
It’s Happening
5 months ago
Reply to  Cy Husain

I wouldn’t put it past Mr. Rivas to try to make that happen. He seems to absolutely love BxB. Why else would he keep throwing money at them?

Cy Husain
5 months ago

Oh really😲, are we talking costumes and accessories❓

hifi5000
hifi5000
5 months ago

It was sad to see the city bureaucracy not respond to this horror house.With the homeless population out of control,the city needs to be more proactive in dealing with these abandoned homes.Maybe it is time to remove the city director in charge of code compliance and get someone new.

david
david
5 months ago

At the Public Safety Commission’s meeting last night, Danny Rivas and staff, nor the Sheriff’s department could even confirm how many vacant properties were in West Hollywood or if they were in compliance. How can West Hollywood even enforce code compliance if they can’t even simply identify all the vacant properties in the city? Maybe with the 32 million dollar City surplus it is time to hire more code enforcement officers to prevent another Sierra Bonita “hell house”

John Ryan
John Ryan
5 months ago

“Code Compliance” in West Hollywood is non-existent.

JF1
JF1
5 months ago
Reply to  John Ryan

And to think that Mr. Rivas who is the head of code compliance makes over $300k a year (if I’m not mistaken). This city needs an enema.

Had Enough
Had Enough
5 months ago
Reply to  John Ryan

You got that right.

Fire Him
Fire Him
5 months ago
Reply to  John Ryan

…that’s most likely because officers have to get permission from Danny Rivas before breathing. Nothing gets done without him being informed. He will easily blame his staff, ridicule and berate them when anything goes wrong but is quick to take credit when the same staff members do something good.

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