City officials looking to crash parties

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Residents have complained that three known corporate-funded celebrity party houses create noise and traffic problems. Government officials are trying to find a way to deal with the issue.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Corporate-funded celebrity beach parties have created a buzz this summer in Malibu for gossip-loving fans and paparazzi from around the world. But many local residents are not sharing the enthusiasm, complaining about added traffic and excessive noise. And some local officials say the current practice might not be legal and are contemplating the creation of stronger laws to put an end to the festivities.

At least three houses are being rented for the summer for corporate-sponsored parties: The Polaroid House and LG Beach House on Malibu Road, and the Silver Spoon Beach Body House on Carbon Beach. Public relations companies and other sponsors pay for the homes, with celebrities invited to host birthday parties and other celebrations at the houses. According to media reports, the celebrities do not have to pay to use the facilities. Money is made through advertisements, including various electronic and other products seen by attendees of the parties. And, more importantly, the many cameras from the beach that take pictures of celebrities holding and using various products are circulated through media outlets around the world. Also, the names of parties’ sponsors are mentioned in stories.

Malibu Permit Services Director Gail Sumpter said the city has received one complaint in writing and several by telephone about a particular home having numerous, loud parties. She said she could not comment on which property it is to protect the identity of the complainants. Sumpter said she has told the owner and tenant of the property to stop having the parties, but the festivities have not ceased. Discussions with the owner and tenant, as well as their attorneys, have continued.

“We are addressing the issue as best we can,” Sumpter said.

She continued, “Last summer I was aware of one [beach party house], this summer we have three and maybe four. It seems to be growing. I don’t like the way it grew from last year. And next year we are going to start early to tell the property owners that this will not be tolerated. And if we have to go to court early, we will do that.”

Those involved with the Polaroid House, which is owned by John Garcia and rented to the public relations firm Fingerprint Communications, did not return calls for comment. A call was also not returned from the media relations department of LG Electronics, which is renting the LG Beach House.

City Attorney Christi Hogin, who called the beach house parties “unbearably rude,” said she believes the houses are not following city law because they are essentially nonpermitted commercial operations. Also, even if temporary-use permits had been obtained, the houses have had many more than the maximum-allowed six commercial events per year at a property not zoned for commercial use.

Hogin said the problem could be further dealt with if a specific law were made to limit the size of parties, but she said that could become problematic.

“You have to craft [an ordinance] properly to catch what you want,” Hogin said. “Everybody has the occasional event, whether it be bar mitzvahs, weddings or anniversary parties. And we would be reluctant to impose a permitting law on those. But these parties; it’s such an unusual thing. We’re going to try to figure out a way so that we only address commercial issues.”

Councilmember Andy Stern, who lives on Broad Beach where there are no known party houses, said a big problem with these houses is that homes on the beach are located extremely close to each other. This makes the noise issue even more significant. He said he has received some complaints, and he says the council will likely address the issue before next summer’s potential parties begin.

“They’re a pain in the butt,” Stern said. “It’s a concern to me. Malibu is amazingly hot right now with the new generation of people. While that’s all fun and good, we don’t want the noise to annoy neighbors.”

Councilmember Sharon Barovsky lives on Malibu Road, where two of the known party houses are located. She said it’s been difficult for her neighbors this summer with the added traffic and noise.

“They [the party hosts] seem to be very inconsiderate,” Barovsky said. “There is noise until late at night and people can’t even get out of their driveways.”

A longtime Malibu resident, Barovsky said she does not remember something like this happening before the Polaroid House opened for parties last year.