Brentwood merchants and locals are working together with the City of Los Angeles to resolve a problem in the Brentwood Village â€˜hood.
Business owners and representatives from the Archer School for Girls joined with the Los Angeles City Attorney, WLAPD, Building and Safety and Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s staff to resolve problems occurring at an abandoned filling station at the Southwest corner of Sunset Blvd. and Barrington Ave.
In the past, a spate of illegal activity has resulted in legal action, which temporarily alleviated the problem. The owners of the property, Susan Augustson and her son Charles Augustson, were prosecuted for building and safety violations in August of 2011, said LA City Attorney Gita O’Neill. Now, locals say the problems have returned.
They allege that an individual illegally inhabits the building, harasses pedestrians and is suspected of allegely engaging in illegal drug activity at the site.
Despite fears of retribution, the merchants are determined to clean up the property. Now, they have asked the City of Los Angeles to join them.
After many confrontations and years of alleged violations, the Brentwood Village Chamber has requested that Councilman Rosendahl and the City of Los Angeles get involved to protect the overall safety of visitors, pedestrians, businesses and students in the area.
Rosendahl’s Chief of Staff Mike Bonin attended the regular meeting of the Brentwood Village Chamber of Commerce in November where business owners expressed their growing concerns. In response, on Tuesday, November 27, Bonin called a meeting with LA City officials, merchants and Archer School to discuss the problem at the Council’s West Los Angeles offices.
Archer School and Brentwood School students frequent the Village. Archer School Director Rick Benfield, who attended the council office meeting, said: â€œOur schools share the concerns of the merchants of Brentwood Village about the activities at this property and we want to insure that it is safe for our students and everyone in the area.â€ No incidents, he said, have been reported at Archer School.
To that end, members of the law enforcement community, City Attorney staff and Building and Safety discussed code violations and possible legal action.
LAPD visited the property prior to the meeting. They reported â€œevidence of illegal habitation,â€ said Brentwood Senior Lead Officer (SLO) Maria Gray. In addition, Building and Safety codes require vacant commercial property to be locked and secured against entry or habitation, a potential violation, said Joaquin Macias, Senior Field Deputy for Councilman Rosendahl.
Merchants say the lot was vacated after a Texaco station closed and a subsequent car wash failed. They speculate that the property was abandoned because of the cost of clean up following the demise of the filling station.
Residents are encouraged to report incidents or suspicious activity to Brentwood SLO Maria Gray at 310-444-0744 or by email at [email protected]