Los Angeles

Guns Don't Kill People; Unlicensed Boarding Homes Kill People

A guy going on a shooting spree means we need better housing regulations?


Sorry, poor people! Some thug killed folks so you all get to live on the street now!

Four people were shot dead outside a home in the Northridge neighborhood of Los Angeles on Dec. 2. Four suspects were arrested a couple of days later in Las Vegas.

The City of Los Angeles responded by addressing what leaders perceive as a core issue behind a pack of murders: Not enough rules on boarding homes.

Officials report the home where the crime took place was housing as many as 17 people. A review of the home uncovered 75 code violations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

What this has to do with a guy with a criminal history who wasn't deported to a bureaucratic screwup allegedly opening fire on a group of people outside the home, I have no idea. But it is leading to the City Council using the crime as an excuse to add more housing regulations and require boarding homes to get licensed:

Known as the Community Care Facilities Ordinance, the proposal would crack down on unlicensed group and boarding homes in single-family neighborhoods throughout the city. If passed by the full City Council, the ordinance would increase oversight of licensed group homes serving seven or more people and change the city code's definition of a "boarding house" to include any home with more than three leases—requiring them to obtain a license. 

The measure would not impact licensed facilities serving six or fewer people, which state law prohibits the city from regulating.

The ordinance, championed by Councilman Mitch Englander, aims to enable police and code enforcement officers to rid single family neighborhoods of unlicensed boarding houses, in which dozens of people are sometimes crammed into a handful of bedrooms and that in some cases become havens for crime and drugs.

Naturally, such a scheme would give the city the authority to push out any sort of group home if the community raises a stink, regardless of whether murderous louts were hanging around. Neighborhood associations love it. People who don't live the kind of lives where they get to be part of neighborhood associations are somewhat nonplussed:

But critics of the ordinance say that it could force group homes that service the drug addicted, disabled, parolees and the chronically homeless to shut their doors and send residents out onto the streets. They say they would be required to get a state license and that would formally define them as "boarding houses." That would mean they could not stay in areas that are zoned for "single family housing."

"No one supports 20 or 30 people in a single family house," said Michael Arnold, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. "L.A. is a city with a critical shortage of affordable housing. This ordinance will violate fair housing laws."

Using regulations to push unwanted poor people out of communities under the pretense of allegedly protecting them from bad living conditions is hardly a new phenomenon. In one community where I used to live, the city booted residents out of a pack of horrible, tiny little houses because they had code problems like missing doors and no heat. The former residents, however, were given no other options of where to go, so several of them ended up homeless. Mother Nature, notably, does not care about city codes mandating doors or heat.


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  1. Reminds me of our response to the physical plant guys setting off our building alarm in the middle of the night: Have all student workers wear name tags.

  2. That would mean they could not stay in areas that are zoned for single family housing

    Good. There’s no “shortage” of “affordable” housing. Like everywhere else, there’s a shortage of cheap housing in nice places, – that’s really what is being asserted here – that everyone deserves to live in a nice place even if they can’t afford it.

    The problem with that line of thought is that what makes places “nice” to most people is counteracted by the presence of structures that have far more people living in them than they were designed to accommodate.

    If you want to solve this problem, there are plenty of locations that could have a boarding house. It’s just that much of the time the “boarding house” industry is actually an end run to purchase valuable real estate in the guise of ‘helping the disadvantaged’. The boarding house operator is running a real estate purchasing business at the expense (financially and socially) of those property owners around the boarding house without compensating them.

    Sorry, but agreeing to purchase land in an area zoned for “single family” means just that – you shouldn’t be any more able to suddenly introduce multi-unit residences than you should be able to start a pig farm or a plating company. If you want to run a multi-use property, buy one in an area zoned for it.

    1. Sorry, but agreeing to purchase land in an area zoned for “single family” means just that – you shouldn’t be any more able to suddenly introduce multi-unit residences than you should be able to start a pig farm or a plating company. If you want to run a multi-use property, buy one in an area zoned for it.

      Government is the problem, and the solution.

      1. Except that the zoning isn’t something imposed on me by the Government. It’s a systematic way of clarifying value which reinforces private property rights, and I chose to spend more and purchase where I did because I understood that my investment would be protected.

        After the fact changes to zoning are quite different, but zoning allows people to make informed property investments – and they constantly allocate more or less depending on their preferences.

        I know libertarians argue about this quite often, but it’s not a coincidence that zoning for density and lifestyle affects the value of a property investment. To say that you can have no agreement as to use pretends that the term “location, location, location” is meaningless.

  3. Job security for the Jailers’ Union is important.

  4. Isn’t this similar to the story of the boy killed by the bus crashing into his bedroom – a bedroom which used to be a porch but had been illegally (i.e. – without permits) converted into a bedroom?

    I think the moral of the story is that failure to respect authoritah ends in death.

  5. Don’t you see?

    Without single use zoning, SOMALIA!!

  6. Have all student workers wear name tags.

    Stapled to their earlobes, I hope.

  7. Now why would Reason point out that the 3rd world savages wasn’t deported like he was supposed to have been? Isn’t he just a “hard working immigrant, doing jobs Americans won’t do and helping the economy”?

    He didn’t belong here in the first place and now 4 people are dead because of our idiotic and dangerously lax immigration policies.

    Diversity Kills.

    1. Hey dick, why don’t you go somewhere you’ll be more welcome.

    2. a guy with a criminal history…

      Did your handler not read you that part, Mallory?

  8. What the LA City Council hasn’t realized is that people who run unlicensed boarding houses ignore the law in the first place.

    When I was looking for a house, it became clear to me that since the permitting process became complex and expensive, more people simply built unlicensed while back when it was simple and cheap, more housing modifications were done legally.

  9. The house in question sold for 25K in 2011? Zillow’s estimate is 762K? hrm!

  10. code problems like missing doors and no heat.

    Dear LA Regulators,

    Is it a code violation if I turn off my thermostat in the winter? Why not?

    Follow up question: heating. in LA. seriously? I suppose there’s a mandate for snow-chains too?

    Fuck You In Advance For Your Response,

  11. nonplussed

    With every bone in my body I hate that word. Two meanings, each contradictory.

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