The city of Los Angeles is asking a judge to help kick out the residents of what officials say are three drug houses.
In the last month, City Atty. Mike Feuer has filed nuisance abatement lawsuits against the owners of a home in South Los Angeles and two houses in Hollywood. He's asking a judge to force the homes' current tenants to leave and never return.
Nine times in the last year, police have been called to the South L.A. home, at 1233 W. 52nd St. in Vermont Square, on drugs- and weapons-related calls, Feuer said. The home acts as a "free-for-all" site where Crips gang members can buy and use PCP, he said.
"A single property can endanger an entire neighborhood. Each property owner is responsible for maintaining their stake in our community," Feuer said in announcing the lawsuits. "If they fail to fulfill that obligation -- ignoring criminal activity, for example, that jeopardizes neighborhood safety -- my office will hold them accountable."
The homes in Hollywood, at 5655 and 5657 Lexington Ave., have long been an issue for the surrounding neighborhood, authorities said. In the last two years alone, police have been called to the homes 15 times in connection with drugs, prostitution and probation violations, Feuer said. The homes also housed methamphetamine labs, he said.
In the latter case, the city also has filed criminal charges against the homeowner for code violations.
"We are all charged with doing all we can to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods," said City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, whose district includes the Hollywood homes.
Councilman Curren Price, whose district includes the home in Vermont Square, said the lawsuits are a message to the owners of other problem properties in the city.
"We are going to come after you strong and hard," he said.
A judge has yet to rule on either request by the city, officials said. If the city wins but residents refuse to clear out, the city can fence off the properties, Feuer said.
This isn't the first time Los Angeles has targeted problem-property owners, and it won't be the last, he said. In 2009, the city filed a suit aimed at an apartment complex in Pico-Union that was allegedly the center of the Mara Salvatrucha gang empire. In 2007, the city filed a lawsuit against the owner of a Venice apartment building that housed the Shoreline Crips.