City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a nuisance lawsuit against the corporate owner of a 104-unit Watts apartment building that allegedly is a hangout for the Grape Street street gang, Feuer announced Monday.
The action seeks to bar gang members from the Watts Arms — 10130 South Beach Street — and to compel the owners to improve security and lighting there.
The property, which spans nearly an entire city block, is located 70 feet from Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School and 250 feet for 102nd Street Early Education Center. Authorities have taken similar action against other gang strongholds in the city.
The case was was filed Thursday against Watts Arms 1 Associates Joint Venture. The suit also names Integrity Management Co., which manages the building, and Real Property Services Corp.
A woman who answered the phone at the property said today she was unaware of the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.
The civil abatement action seeks an injunction restricting gang and criminal activity on the property including prohibiting all known gang members from entering or staying at the property and prohibiting criminal activity including narcotics sales.
The lawsuit also seeks physical and managerial improvements to the property including: an internet-connected video monitoring system; improved lighting; secure gating and fencing; improved tenant screening and lease enforcement procedures; and armed, licensed security guards.
“They sell rock cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana on the property,” the suit alleges concerning gang members. “They stash guns there as well, which they use to launch armed attacks on rival gangs.”
Feuer said residents face frequent danger.
“No one in Los Angeles should live in constant fear from gun violence and rampant crime,” Feuer said. “But that’s exactly what families in this neighborhood have endured. We intend to put a stop to it. Our residents deserve to be safe.”
The group of apartment units is located 70 feet from Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School and 250 feet from 102nd Street Early Education Center, a medical facility for the elderly and theater space, the suit states. Since 2010, LAPD has made multiple arrests or conducted investigations on the property for alleged crimes involving Grape Street gang members and their associates, including shots fired at an inhabited dwelling, gun assaults resulting in wounded people and damaged vehicles, resisting arrest, possession and sale of cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs, domestic violence and vandalism, according to Feuer. Within the last two weeks, gunfire erupted at the property after which 19 shell casings were recovered, including rounds from an AK-47 type assault rifle, according to Feuer.
The public nuisance abatement complaint is part of an effort targeting properties alleged to be magnets for gangs, guns and narcotics across Los Angeles. Authorities filed eight recent abatement lawsuits against properties in Hollywood, South Los Angeles, Venice and Del Rey, according to Feuer.
—City News Service