Police raided a former comedy club in Hollywood early Wednesday morning, issuing trespassing citations to dozens of people who had taken up shelter there.
Officers executed a search warrant at the building, located at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cosmo Street, and found 60 adults and six minors in the building, along with one rifle and one shotgun, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
City Attorney Mike Feuer said the building at 6362 Hollywood Boulevard posed a “public safety threat,” and likened it to the Ghost Ship in Oakland, a warehouse that was operating as an unpermitted art gallery and venue until a fire broke out in 2016, killing 36 people.
“Our office continues to work to prevent a tragedy like the Oakland Ghost Ship fire from happening here,” said Feuer.
The city attorney last week filed 25 criminal charges against property owner Mehdi Boulour, and could eventually file more, according to spokesperson Frank Mateljan.
The charges include one count each of altering electrical wiring without a permit, not installing smoke alarms in sleeping areas, and failing “to maintain in clean and sanitary condition and good repair the walls and ceilings of every room.”
But Holden Rifat, who says he lived in a two-bedroom unit in the building for two months, paying a total of $1,250, says his apartment was relatively nice.
“I thought [the building] was dirty, but nothing crazy,” Rifat says.
Rifat stood outside the building Thursday, along with about a dozen other former occupants, some carrying copies of their leases. They took numbers and waited in line to collect their belongings, which had been rounded up and stuffed into large black garbage bags.
Some say they had paid to live there, but wouldn’t say to whom they paid rent.
A man named Tony said he and three other tenants in the building signed leases with the owner to rent spaces as offices for their businesses.
His production company moved in five years ago, and in that time, electricity and water had been shut-off, the elevator broke down, and there were visits from police and firefighters.
In collaboration with @lapdmetro SWAT Team, @LAPDHollywood served a search warrant this morning in #Hollywood. Multiple felony suspects arrested, illegal firearms & narcotics seized. We are constantly striving to improve quality of life & reduce crime in #Hollywood #CA. pic.twitter.com/di56xU8WG2— LAPD HOLLYWOOD DIV. (@LAPDHollywood) September 13, 2018
A tweet Wednesday from the department shows images from inside the building, where occupants were apparently sleeping on cots and air mattresses, with access to basic electronic appliances.
Los Angeles officials began cracking down on warehouses and commercial buildings being used as illegal dwellings two years ago, shortly after the fire.
Boulour’s company, Denley Investments, owns several properties along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Until earlier this year, 6362 Hollywood had housed the iO West comedy theater, which closed in February after 20 years in business.
In 2015, the city revoked permits for a nightclub that had also operated in the building.