LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has warned that residents hosting large home gatherings can expect their water and power utilities to be cut, a sharp escalation of the city’s strict Covid-19 measures amid a series of recent house parties.
Starting on Friday, Garcetti said that the city’s Department of Water and Power (DWP) would shut off service to properties where there are “egregious” violations of local health orders, pointing to house parties in the Hollywood Hills and Calabasas in recent weeks, which he said were held in “flagrant” defiance of the law.
“While we have already closed all bars and nightclubs, these large house parties have essentially become nightclubs,” the mayor said on Wednesday, vowing to treat residential homes the same as businesses that skirt health guidelines.
You’re breaking the law. Just as we can shut down bars breaking alcohol laws, in places that are in criminal violation, we can shut them down.
BREAKING: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announces he is authorizing the city to shut off water and power to any houses or businesses that are hosting any parties or unauthorized large gatherings. It will begin Friday night, and LAPD will respond, then contact DWP to cut it off @FOXLA
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) August 6, 2020
If Los Angeles police confirm violations have taken place after “repeat complaints,” law enforcement will contact the DWP to cut service to the home in question, Garcetti said, noting that county health inspectors and other city officials would also be on the lookout for those hosting banned gatherings. Asked about the legality of the move by a local reporter, the mayor insisted it is “rooted in strong law,” saying he had consulted with city attorneys.
“We can actually do the power or water shutoff after a first violation, but we like to educate, not enforce,” Garcetti explained. “We will not act lightly. But we will act.”
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Under the city’s current coronavirus ordinance, any large gathering “which threatens or interferes with the public health, safety or welfare” is prohibited, threatening increasing fines for repeat violations by both hosts and guests, as well as possible misdemeanor charges.
The decision comes on the heels of a number of raging house parties thrown around the city, one of which ended in tragedy on Monday after three people were shot, one woman succumbing to her injuries. The party was hosted at the mansion of an unidentified NFL athlete near Beverly Hills, and police later said they believed the shooting was gang-related. While authorities had responded to a complaint at the mansion prior to the shooting, they did not break up the gathering, which reportedly involved some 200 people.
Though she declined to single out any specific incident, LA County public health director Barbara Ferrer said on Wednesday that the recent parties were a “bad idea,” arguing such gatherings “create a lot of risk for transmission” of Covid-19 while observing that infection rates among younger residents had nearly quadrupled between June and July.
Los Angeles has tallied more than 195,800 coronavirus infections and around 4,800 fatalities, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, making up a large proportion of California’s 528,000 confirmed cases and nearly half of its 9,700 deaths.
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