Los Angeles

Los Angeles Will Shut Off People's Utilities For Hosting Parties, Not For Failing To Pay Their Utility Bills

Mayor Eric Garcetti's plan to shut off utility service to violators of bans on private gatherings poses grave civil liberties and due process concerns.

|

In Los Angeles, you can have your power turned off for having parties at your house, but not for failing to pay your power bill.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he was authorizing the city-controlled Department of Water and Power (DWP) to shut off utilities to homes and businesses that host unpermitted gatherings in violation of county and city stay-at-home orders.

The order comes in response to reports of large parties being held at residences across Los Angeles, including one on Tuesday night that ended in the shooting death of one attendee.

"The consequences of these large parties ripple far beyond those parties. They ripple throughout our community," Garcetti said in a press briefing Wednesday evening. "While we have already closed nightclubs and bars, these large parties have become nightclubs in the hills. Beyond the noise, traffic, and nuisance, these parties are unsafe and can cost Angelenos their lives."

The mayor said that if Los Angeles Police Department officers discover a property that is hosting a prohibited gathering, they will request that DWP shut off service to said property within the next 48 hours. The order goes into effect this Friday.

Los Angeles County's public health order bans family gatherings and parties of any size. The City of Los Angeles' public health order bans gatherings of any size outside of residences, save for several listed exemptions, including protests.

In his remarks Wednesday evening, Garcetti said that enforcement of this utility shutoff order would be focused on the most egregious violators.

The state of California has barred investor-owned utilities from shutting off service to customers for non-payment until April 16 of next year. This doesn't affect public utilities like DWP, although The Los Angeles Times reports the department has voluntarily agreed to suspend service shutoffs.

Other communities that have experimented with utility shut-off orders during COVID-19 have run into opposition on constitutional grounds.

When Salisbury, Massachusetts, issued an order shutting of publicly provided water to vacation homes in the hopes of preventing out-of-towners from summering there, thus preventing the spread of COVID-19, the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) sent a letter to the town arguing the policy was unconstitutional.

PLF argued that the town's shutoff order violated the U.S. Constitution's protections of due process and equal protection, given that the order only applied to people with seasonal homes in town.

"When a property right, such as the right to receive running water in one's home, is violated, the government needs to follow certain procedures. These include giving fair notice to the affected parties and then providing a fair opportunity for those parties to challenge the order before a neutral judge," wrote PLF attorney Daniel Woislaw in a May blog post. "Thus, when Salisbury passed a law restricting access to water without providing any procedures for individualized notice or hearings, it jumped the gun—and the Constitution."

The town eventually allowed its shutoff order to expire.

The process outlined by Garcetti doesn't give property owners the opportunity to challenge having their utility service shutoff. It instead relies only on police determining someone's guilt before requesting DWP meter out punishment.

Los Angeles' city-owned utility allows Garcetti to use access to basic necessities of life as a tool for enforcing government policy. It's not the first time the city has used utility access as a cudgel. Last year, the city council voted to give DWP the power to shut off utilities to unlicensed cannabis businesses.

Garcetti has presented this utility shutoff measure as a way of cracking down on the most irresponsible violators of the ban on gatherings. Whether it will be enforced that way remains to be seen.

As the mayor noted in his remarks, closing nightclubs and bars didn't eliminate people's desire to socialize. The longer shutdown orders remain in place, the more people will end up violating them by congregating in private residences. To enforce its policies, the city could end up having to shut off electricity and water to a lot of homes.

Given the grave civil liberties concerns at stake, controlling electricity seems like one power the government shouldn't have.

NEXT: Supreme Court's Growing Popularity Reduces the Risk of Court-Packing and Other Threats to Judicial Review

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I quit working at shoprite to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $45 to 85 per/h. Without a doubt, this is the easiest and most financially rewarding job I’ve ever had.GDf I actually started 6 months ago and this has totally changed my life.

    For more details visit………► Cash Mony System

  2. doesn’t shutting off utilities take like 14 notice hearings?

    1. Not if you’re an enemy of the RightThink.

      1. I am making $165 an hour working from home. i was greatly surprised at the sametime as my neighbour advised me she changed into averaging $ninety five howeverI see the way it works now. I experience masses freedom now that i’m my non-public boss. that is what I do……For Details.

    2. Something tells me the city is gonna be paying out some settlements on this later.

      1. Yeah, but with federal dollars.

          1. I make up to $90 an hour on-line from my home. My story is that I give up operating at walmart to paintings on-line and with a bit strive I with out problem supply in spherical $40h to $86h… someone turned into top to me by way of manner of sharing this hyperlink with me,Fdc so now i’m hoping i ought to help a person else accessible through sharing this hyperlink.

            ===============► Cash Mony System

      2. Lets see how well their lawyers work without electricity too. When you start messing with the basic necessities of life it’s jackboots all the way down.

    3. ░A░M░A░Z░I░N░G░ ░J░O░B░S░  
      Start your work at home right now. Spend more time with your family and earn. Start bringing 85$/hr just on a laptop. Very easy way to make your life happy and earning continuously.last week my check was 24551$.pop over here this site…   Read more

  3. On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he was authorizing the city-controlled Department of Water and Power (DWP) to shut off utilities to homes and businesses that host unpermitted gatherings in violation of county and city stay-at-home orders.

    I hereby authorize anybody that wants to to kick Eric Garcetti right in the nuts to do so.

    1. There should be bounties on him for that.

  4. These assholes simply cannot help themselves.

    1. “Hi, my name’s Mayor Eric Garcetti and I’m a politician”.

      1. “So you’re saying that I can turn off people’s power and water if they don’t listen to my unconstitutional edicts? This job is even better than I thought!!!”

      2. Make that “power-mad attention whore”.

        1. There’s a difference?

  5. While we have already closed nightclubs and bars, these large parties have become nightclubs in the hills.

    Hiding up in the mountains
    Laying low in the canyons
    Goin’ nowhere on the streets
    With their Spanish names
    Makin’ love with the natives
    In their Hollywood places
    Making up for all the time gone by

    1. But you can protest all you want. But don’t dare invite friends over, have a drink with friends or go to church.

      1. And before some of our leftist apologist try the freedom of speech argument, I will not freedom of religion and association are also listed in that amendment.

        1. And religion was listed first.

      2. Like all puritans, the woke totalitarians have decided that all human activity must satisfy a noble ideological purpose. And all other activities are blasphemy, punishable by public shaming, corporal punishment, or death.

        1. public shaming

          Maybe we’ll see the stocks and pillory again before too long.

  6. No surprises from the Stalinist left wing aka democrats. People are to be abused for their profit and pleasure. Keep the hits coming because between this attack on citizens and crazy Joe candidate hiding in the cellar Trump should have no problems getting elected.

  7. Come on Garcetti. You can authoritarian harder. Why don’t you throw in some asset forfeiture? You could at least revoke business licenses or occupancy certificates.

    1. This would never pass as authoritarian in NJ. Garcetti’s gone soft.

  8. So, for Los Angeles residents, plan your family gathering at a public park… just be sure to call it a “protest.” How about protesting against having one’s power and water shut off… Would that work? Just bring placards along with the hotdogs.

    1. You will need to throw a few BLM signs in there to make it official.

  9. There are only a few thin lines between a free society and a dictatorship, private property rights is quite possibly the most important. Take that away, we are no longer a free people. I consider this a usurpation of proper government limits. This is a serious crime by the mayor.

    1. That line was crossed with adoption of a constitution that presumes to give an elected elite the power to initiate violence, threaten, defraud, and then judge/limit itself. That is tyranny. That was/is a mistake. Failure to conceive of this political tragedy as a mistake, an impossible way to protect rights, has led to the greatest totalitarian empire in history.

  10. Plus it’s a terroristic threat. California state troopers should be hauling Garcetti away by now.

  11. So, Garcetti is a douche just like his old man.

  12. Oh Dear Jesus and Mary AND Jesus’s Boss (THAT is Government Almighty of course!), what’s next?!?! “The right to peacefully assemble” is constitutionally guaranteed to us… That and $4.35 will get you a cup of joe at Starbucks… But the right to live rent-free and energy-bills-free (etc.) w/o paying your bills is NOT!!!

    Does anyone give a fuck any longer, about the USA Constitution, or is it just something to pay lip service to?

    1. Does anyone give a fuck any longer, about the USA Constitution, or is it just something to pay lip service to?

      I don’t think most of these people are even paying it lip service.

  13. 1. “While we have already closed nightclubs and bars, these large parties have become nightclubs in the hills.”
    Much better than allowing the licensed businesses to open in an orderly manner, to be sure.
    2. “The City of Los Angeles’ public health order bans gatherings of any size outside of residences, save for several listed exemptions, including protests.”
    We got pizza parties, tupperware parties, and protest parties. Only the last of these can take place,
    3. “The process outlined by Garcetti doesn’t give property owners the opportunity to challenge having their utility service shutoff. It instead relies only on police determining someone’s guilt before requesting DWP meter out punishment.”
    OK, I’ve changed my mind; defund the police.

    1. I wonder how the white middle class Karen’s will feel when they get their water shut off for holding a pampered chef or sex toy party?

    2. Oh, yeah.
      4. Who’s the asshole without a mask in the picture?

      1. *applause*

        “Rules are for the little people.”

      2. Seriously, laugh out loud funny.

  14. This is getting either darkly comical, or comically dark. I’m not sure which.

    1. Either way, it’s racist

  15. I ran across a great podcast on youtube the other day where one of the people in it said that Western politicians no longer “know how to govern”. The only thing they have left is police powers–which they know how to use and use often– but the skill of governing is a long lost art.

    1. It’s true. They are only good at being elected.

  16. This country is going to get an armed revolution, and it ain’t the one the Media thinks they’re going to get.

    1. I’ve been saying this for years now. The civil war started with the murder of George Floyd. That was our Archduke Ferdinand moment.

  17. Could this scenario happen? Pedo Joe actually makes it through the convention and the debates and then actually wins the presidency. Then, in week or month 2 or 3, he resigns, and hands over the reins to the VP. The VP is Hillary Clinton.

    1. I don’t know, if I were Hillary I might stop believing the Democrat leadership when they start making promises of being next in line.

    2. Impossible. He will not be able to form the sentence “I resign.”
      However, the VP will be able to type up a real nice amendment 25 certification that he is batshit crazy and can no longer govern.
      And since ol’ Joe is not likely to get elected without the fascists also taking the senate and keeping the house, they can pass a law the new pres will sign designating the DNC as the body designated to determine presidential fitness to serve.

      1. And since ol’ Joe is not likely to get elected without the fascists also taking the senate and keeping the house, they can pass a law the new pres will sign designating the DNC as the body designated to determine presidential fitness to serve.

        I want to say that even they aren’t that stupid yet, that that would be just too obvious of a naked power grab to think they could get away with it, but then I remembered what the article is about, so…

        1. Amendment 25, section 4:
          “Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide . . . “

    3. Hillary isn’t black, so no, it’s not possible.

      1. She can identify as black – – – – – –

  18. I knew it would come to something like this from the start.

    When they let prisoners out of jail because of COVID, I had a sneaking suspicion it was just to make room for all the new people that would be sent to jail because of COVID.

    Because ultimately, when you make new rules you’re making new opportunities to be sent to prison.

    This is the same reason why I find it remarkable that Black community leaders are so in bed with the Democrats. Like, who do you think is passing all the rules that are sending you to jail, people? Eric Garner was probably the most obvious case of this in modern times, at least that I can think of off the cuff, since he was killed for selling loose cigarettes in a Democrat controlled bastion.

    The only reason to focus on the enforcement, and not the rules, is to distract from the actual reason why law enforcement was ever involved in the first place. With those rules in place, there was never any good ending for someone like Eric. At best he would be back in prison instead of dead, and this is 100% ignored.

    1. Just reminding people that Eric Garner wasn’t selling loose cigarettes, he had just broken up a fight. The cops started harassing him because he had sold loose cigarettes IN THE PAST. They had no reason to harass him that day.

      1. They were cops; he was black.
        What do you mean no right to harass?

        1. ‘They were cops, he was a civilian.’

          FTFY

      2. Thank you. I very important reminder.

      3. Did they have a money bet on the fight he broke up?

  19. Oh come on now. This is not a conspiracy from the Democrats, although it does show how the philosophy of the Democratic Party which supports the nanny state is antithetical to liberty. While I do think people who are throwing big parties in LA right now are making bad choices, I do not think the city government had the right to intervene. Yes, the Democrats are terrible about this, but I have seen the Republicans do similar things, like the entire War on Drugs and the War on Terror, that violate our rights using the justification that they are saving us. Government loves to extend its authority to protect us from ourselves. Don’t kid yourselves that either party respects your rights.

    1. The war on drugs and terror are bipartisan issues, don’t kid yourself. There are just as many Dems as Republicans decrying the removal of troops from the Middle East and legalization of drugs.

      I don’t see this decree being enforced, the types of people throwing these parties are not the sort that are going to just sit back and let them pull the plug without a fight. Unless the LAPD backs the DWP up with the SWAT team don’t see them volunteering to go out and do this.

  20. I’m sorry, is this isn’t tyranny, what is?

    1. Let’s just say the governor of Virginia is planning to change the state flag to replace lady liberty with a unicorn, and the tyrant with a generic old white guy.
      The new motto will be “Hic genuflectitur, aut mori”

    2. Trump posting stupid shit in Twitter?

  21. Time to start having Friday night house protests, birthday protests, anniversary protests etc.

  22. If you are a landlord , don’t you dare shut off the water or power to a scum bag tenant who refuses to pay rent or trashes the place.

  23. How long before landlords start reporting “Covid parties” happening at the addresses of tenants who are behind on their rent?

    If the same city that’ll fine you for shutting off that tenant’s utilities will go ahead and do it on their own, why not take advantage of the situation?

    1. Your ideas are compelling. I would like to sign up for your newsletter.

  24. Nothing like a little human rights violation to ensure compliance with arbitrary restrictions on the use of private property.

  25. The hypocrisy is palpable. I bet protests are still allowed.

    And if trump did this they’d call him a fascist.

    1. From the article: Los Angeles County’s public health order bans family gatherings and parties of any size. The City of Los Angeles’ public health order bans gatherings of any size outside of residences, save for several listed exemptions, including protests.

      So, yep.

    2. “It’s not fascist when WE do it!”

  26. Sooo… I got in my time machine to go back in time and kill Hitler (duh). Something went wrong, and I find myself stranded in the stupidest time line possible. Does anyone have any fusible material for sale?

    1. Somehow you made this a timeline where everyone is literally Hitler. Thanks.

  27. You know what will be funny? The first house they try to cut off that has solar.

    Solar won’t look so attractive to CA government once they figure out that people with their own power generating equipment can’t be cut off.

    The Amish are on to something there.

  28. Google easily work and google pays me every hour and every week just $5K to $8K for doing online work from home. I am a universty student and I work n my part time just 2 to 3 hours a day easily from home. Now every one can earn extra cash for doing online home system and make a good life by just open this website and follow instructions on this page………click for jobs its a limited offER.

  29. Um, the #1 thing we are told to do to avoid infection is to wash our hands. 20 seconds minimum. Scrub frequently. Fauci’s orders.

    So of course, to spur people to take better care, LA shuts off the water.

  30. US Dollar Rain Earns upto $550 to $750 per day by google fantastic job oppertunity provide for our community pepoles who,s already using facebook to earn money 85000$ every month and more through facebook and google new project to create money at home withen few hours.Everybody can get this job now and start earning online by just open this link and then go through instructions to get started……….HERE? Read More

  31. “Given the grave civil liberties concerns at stake, controlling electricity seems like one power the government shouldn’t have.” You mean besides the other powers it shouldn’t have, like putting healthy people under house arrest for 5 months, making it illegal to operate a business, dictating when people can shop and for what, telling them how far apart they can stand, forbidding them from visiting loved ones in hospitals and care homes, deciding who’s essential and who’s optional, and forcing people to wear face diapers? Once you grant all those powers to the government over a germ with a .1% fatality rate, why the fuck would it draw an arbitrary line at not cutting off utilities?

  32. I will advocate “strike at the root” when talking about “…one power govt. shouldn’t have.”
    The worldwide political paradigm is for the society to grant a monopoly on violence to a popular elite who have a moral blank check. How about eliminating that power? How about replacing it with self-governance, reason, rights, choice?
    Striking at the branches of immoral/impractical politics is futile. We can nip it at the root, e.g., initiation of violence, threats, fraud.

  33. Next up, “We suspect that you’re using drugs so first we’re going to shut-off your utilities while we see if we can confiscate your house using CAF.”

  34. I predict there are going to be “hanging parties” with politicians adorning the trees throughout the area.

  35. “Today’s intellectuals and reformers have little respect for the automobile—or for automobile culture. The car’s very convenience seems an indulgence, a waste of resources and money.”

    Wow! As the owner of http://www.cardetaillosangeles.com/mobile-detailing (mobile detailing service in Los Angeles), I completely disagree. There are numerous benefits of the automobile in our society!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.