Los Angeles will shut off utilities for residents who host parties during the pandemic starting Friday.
"By turning off that power, shutting down that water, we feel we can close these places down, which usually are not one-time offenders, but multiple offenders," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
If the Los Angeles Police Department verifies reports of large gatherings, it can request water and power be cut. The hosts would likely have to be repeat offenders, and the city would have to give them notice.
So, is this legal?
It is. That's because of a legally binding order from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that prohibits gatherings or parties of any size during the coronavirus pandemic.
On top of that, a city ordinance passed in 2018 prohibits any "loud or unruly" gathering on residential property "which threatens or interferes with the public health, safety or welfare." Party hosts or homeowners can face fines or even misdemeanor charges for violating the ordinance.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti defended the city's move to shut off utilities in a press conference Wednesday.
"You're breaking the law.... This is rooted in strong law from city attorney. We have the opinion, we know we can do this. And we don't just show up and suddenly shut down people's water and power off, but the city provides that to places that are in criminal violation of city or public health orders, we have the right to make sure that more lives are not lost."