HOLLYWOOD Residents blast city leaders for fire at vacant West...

Residents blast city leaders for fire at vacant West Hollywood home

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Residents in a West Hollywood neighborhood are demanding answers and action from city officials after a massive fire on Thanksgiving Night destroyed a vacant home that’s been the subject of repeated complaints about squatters and trespassers.  

The dilapidated and vacant home on North Sierra Bonita Avenue, which is surrounded by apartment buildings, erupted in flames on Nov. 23 jarring neighbors from gatherings with their loved ones.  

Fortunately, fire officials said no one was injured during the blaze, and while the fire has sent shockwaves through the nearby community, some of the residents tell KTLA that the property was a public safety hazard waiting to happen and that’s why they’re fuming.  

At a West Hollywood City Council meeting on Monday, many residents were speaking their minds.  

“The landlord did not secure his property,” one speaker said.  

“I wish that WeHoans who ask the city for help could actually get it,” another told the council.  

Neighbors say they’ve been complaining about trespassing, suspicious activity, garbage and debris piling up at the vacant house for more than a year, even telling city leaders they feared a fire could break out. 

Just weeks later, that’s what happened.  

  • Residents outraged after vacant home in West Hollywood burns on Thanksgiving
  • Residents outraged after vacant home in West Hollywood burns on Thanksgiving

“It’s literally like we’ve been held hostage by this one developer that has several properties in the area that are not being taken care of, they’re not being developed,” Stefanie LaHart told KTLA’s Chris Wolfe.  

LaHart, who started a website chronicling the vacant property before, during and after the fire, said the Thanksgiving Night blaze damaged a nearby apartment building, displacing two people who live next door, adding that she’s thankful the disaster wasn’t worse.  

“We’ve been calling for help and begging for help and nobody’s doing anything,” LaHart explained.  

City leaders said they are doing something and listening to residents. One councilmember wants to review the history of complaints and the ensuing government response.  

Others want to be quickly informed of all the enforcement tools and authority at their disposal.  

“The city installed and is paying directly for 24-hour security with our Block-by-Block Ambassadors to be out there,” West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem John Erickson told KTLA. “We’re also reassessing all of our vacant properties.”  

Officials added that they are working with both neighbors of these types of properties and the landlords. 

The city council plans to reinstate a “problem properties task force,” combining public safety, public information and code enforcement personnel. There was also discussion about the ability to declare vacant property a “public nuisance” and place a lien on it, among other measures.  

In the meantime, the vacant property on North Sierra Bonita, sometimes referred to by neighbors as the “hell house,” has been red tagged and should be demolished soon.  

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