GUEST COMMENTARY - “On Monday, July 18 at 7:00 a.m., I heard a loud noise like a rapid and continuous breaking of concrete.
Immediately, I stepped outside my home to see what that was,” said Claudia Ruano who lives on Coronado Street near the charter school playground at 110 Coronado Street.
Then, Claudia witnessed a white construction-bobcat vigorously breaking the asphalt of the playground forming a cloud of dark dust all around, while a large - yellow-Caterpillar with big steel- teeth carried the broken asphalt to a nearby pile.
I arrived right away after she texted me. Then we walked up Coronado--- past two super-ten construction-truck haulers parked in the street waiting to cart the debris away--- to the front of the Citizens of the World Charter School at Beverly Boulevard looking for a Construction Site Notice, since this was all shockingly new to Claudia.
In front of the school, there were already several neighbors with bewildering expressions trying to make sense of the poster on the wall, “… We will be working on the construction of our brand new playground this summer.” This poster puzzled Claudia since there was no City Construction Notice onsite listing the job description, address, permit number, and discretionary approvals.
Immediately, Claudia started clicking on her cell phone and filed a complaint with 311. Roy took the call and noted, “Construction and grading taking place at 110 North Coronado Street without permits, case #: 528351”. Also, Roy ran a Department of Building and Safety (DBS) online search for this site, revealing two permits granted: One for shade structures and the other for a new trash enclosure. He further stated that since ”the permit for grading has not been issued, they should not have started on this project without a permit.”
Claudia was not content with Roy’s comment, sought help at the Permit Engineering Bureau.
She emailed Engineering Permit Acting Chief Pascal Challita requesting for an inspector to come out to the site. “Whether it’s a school or a commercial business, a permit needs to be displayed outside the premises visible to passersby and before construction should commence,” she elaborated. “We need to have developers held accountable, just as much as LADBS expects homeowners to follow the L.A. Municipal Code and pay for permits when remodeling.” Also, she sent Pascal photos and a video recording taken earlier that day of the entire playground being graded.
The next morning, Pascal responded to Claudia’s concerns via email. He requested for an Inspection manager of Commercial Building Inspections Metro Division, Terry Herr to investigate the site, located at 110-128 Coronado Street, with specific instructions and report back to him on the outcome via email.
On the third day, in response to Pascal’s request, inspector Herr went to 110 Coronado and “issued a Correction Notice for the work being performed on the parking lot for which they did not have a permit. However there is a permit [application] for that [the activity] currently in Plan Check,” Herr said. “There is also a grading permit that will be issued within the next few days. The permitted work currently underway is for a trash enclosure and a shade structure. The contractor was a little ahead of schedule by removing the asphalt,” wrote Herr via email to Pascal on July 20 and copied Claudia.
By the fourth day, an Order to Comply was posted: Violation address is 110 N. Coronado Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026. The notice reads: “An inspection of the site on 07/20/22 and a review of departmental records reveals that unauthorized work has commenced at this site without the benefit of plans, permits or inspections.”
Further, the Order to Comply lists requirements of the L.A. Municipal Code:
1) Stop all unauthorized work at the subject site as of Thursday 07/21/2022…
2) Submit plans for all intended work, secure approval and obtain all required permits…
3) Call for all required inspections and obtain all approvals.
In addition, A code violation inspection fee plus a 6% surcharge of $20.16 for which will be billed separately, read the notice.
L.A. City Inspector Jonathan Quach signed the Order to Comply. Along with the Order, a Construction Site Notice was posted with a work description order to Install a 6 Ft. High Trash Enclosure along Coronado Street.
Inspectors Herr and Quach visited the site, Herr instructed the contractor to only perform work for which a proper permit had been issued, and gave him permission to remove the debris, as long as the hours of operation and dust control measures were observed. Both inspectors observed dust control measures at the time of their visit. “The contractor has agreed to the terms laid out in the stop work order. I have directed my inspector to drive by the site once a day for observation. We will continue to monitor progress at the site and will notify you of any developments,” Herr wrote in the email to Claudia on July 21. By August 9th the site was silent.
In a passage above, inspector Herr makes an assumption, “a grading permit will be issued in a few days.” According to LADBS online portal, grading for school playground and parking lot verifications are in progress as of 08/12/22. Permits have not been issued.
(Connie Acosta is a writer who contributes articles to City Watch and is a board member of the Echo Park Neighborhood Council.)