Residents of the beach communities on the Westside aren't used to much noise at night. Neighbors turn down TVs by 10 p.m., and they tend to keep one another informed about any plans for loud parties.
So when an eight-minute fireworks display lit up the sky just after midnight Tuesday, thousands of residents were spooked. Children woke up screaming. Dogs barked wildly. Some residents, who hadn't seen the fireworks but heard the noise, feared the worst: A terrorist attack at Los Angeles International Airport.
"I was stunned by this booming sound," Playa del Rey resident Linda Feldman said. "I had no idea what it was. The dog went into what I thought was a cardiac arrest."
Feldman peered outside her home and saw a large vessel along the breakwater as a barrage of fireworks shot into the air. She could smell the burned powder. "Everything about this is illegal," Feldman recalled thinking.
She would later learn the ruckus came from a party thrown by Khloe Kardashian, best known for her family's long-running reality TV show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." E!Online reported that the celebrity-filled bash was for James Harden's 26th birthday. Kardashian is reportedly dating the Houston Rockets shooting guard.
Residents weren't notified about the weekday party, Feldman said, and probably would have opposed it.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice and other beach communities, is demanding answers and looking for those responsible for allowing the fireworks show. Bonin, who said the event appears to have been tied to the Kardashian party, said the fireworks were not approved by the city.
"This was just a really disrespectful and insensitive thing to do," he said.
The Coast Guard said the event occurred in open water about a mile from the marina, despite reports from residents that it occurred 100 feet from or within the breakwater. The event passed a safety checklist typically given for events with pyrotechnics, officials said.
"This specific event did not warrant a permit" because it occurred in open water, Petty Officer Andrea Anderson said.
Any concerns over the noise or timing of the event were supposed to be handled by the local supervising agency, which in this case would have been the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's station in Marina del Rey.
The Sheriff's Department received 40 calls from residents concerned that the noise was coming from weapons fire, sheriff's spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.
"Once callers learned that the noise was fireworks, some said they were relieved, and several indicated they were no longer concerned about the origin of the noise," she said in a statement.
The Sheriff's Department's Harbor Patrol and the Los Angeles County Fire Department were notified about the private party, Nishida said, and told that fireworks would be launched from the vessel about 100 feet west of the breakwater off Marina del Rey.
The Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors are not responsible for any fireworks requests outside the Marina del Rey breakwater.
No noise complaints have been lodged with the Sheriff's Department, but the station in Marina del Rey is investigating to determine whether any laws or ordinances were broken.
Loud disturbances are a violation of law but require at least one victim and proof of malicious intent, Nishida said.
The confusion over responsibility for the event has frustrated Bonin, who said he will continue to press the issue.
The fireworks, Bonin said, left many residents thinking "worst-case scenario." He described it as a "ridiculous, rude and loud celebrity birthday bash."
"Folks were scared, and they then went from scared to angry," he said.
Emails between Los Angeles County and Coast Guard officials show that the event was sponsored by Boulevard Management. The fireworks were launched from a vessel known as the American Islander. Although the Coast Guard did not require a permit, city and county ordinances would have prohibited the event, according to the emails. But because the event occurred in open water, the county had to rely on the Coast Guard to enforce or require additional approvals.
Kardashian and Boulevard Management did not return requests for comment.
On Wednesday, Feldman said her 4-year-old Tibetan terrier, Sweetie, was still a little shaken but is recovering — though she herself has not. She said her peaceful community is in shock, and she is angry over what she called selfish behavior displayed by Kardashian and her friends.
"It's time now to set the boundaries for these folks," Feldman said. "Cause, quite frankly, there are none."
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