Why Empty Buildings are EVERYONE's Business

C.C. de Vere

C.C. de Vere

· 4 min read
7406 S. Figueroa Street, a two-story apartment building, boarded up and on fire against the night sky.

I'm sure there are a few people who've stumbled upon this blog and wondered who the hell I am and why I'm poking my nose into what's empty and why.

I'm nobody special - just an Angeleno who hates what's happening to her family's hometown. In theory, anyone could have started this blog, but in practice, no one else had yet and I saw a need.

I do what I do because chronically empty buildings are EVERYONE's business. I'll explain.

Chronically empty buildings burn down with alarming frequency. This blog is RIFE with horror stories of empty buildings burning (so much so that I'm not even going to try to link all of them).

In fact, there was another knockdown fire just the other day. 7406 South Figueroa Street, a two-story apartment building bought in August 2022, was boarded up and empty, and had been the site of previous fires. It burned down just after midnight three days ago.

This would be bad enough, but the fire reportedly damaged the bungalow court next door as well.

A fire in a vacant building doesn't just affect that building. It puts neighboring buildings at risk.

On a windy day, a burning building may put not-so-close buildings at risk.

And a burning building releases toxic smoke and soot into the air EVERYONE breathes. (If you don't think LA is polluted enough already, you've probably never changed an air purifier filter.)

If any homeowners are reading this: insurance companies HATE fires. If there are too many in your area, or just one really bad one, or if they decide your home is at too much of a risk for any reason, you may find yourself paying EVEN HIGHER rates, if not losing your coverage entirely. (It recently happened to a family living next to a blighted commercial building in Boyle Heights.)

Many of those burned buildings are knocked down at taxpayer expense. Owners are rarely, if ever, held financially responsible. If you're not concerned about how the city spends your hard-earned money, you should be.

Chronically empty buildings can attract crime. Do I really need to explain this one?

Some, like the so-called Los Feliz Murder Mansion (which sat empty for decades for reasons known only to the longtime owners), might only attract trespassers (true-crime fanatics, teenagers partying on the grounds, etc.). But some people might use an empty building for more nefarious purposes than underage drinking.

It is wrong, plain and simple, to keep habitable homes off the market during a housing usage crisis. Period. End of sentence. In case I haven't mentioned this enough, I was an apartment manager, and my former boss agrees with me on this. She never kept a unit empty for longer than it took to make any repairs, do a deep clean, re-key the locks, and select a new tenant (and if I remember correctly, the longest that ever took was three weeks, after a very destructive tenant left).

And if the housing supply is artificially low relative to demand...there's a not-zero chance you just might possibly be overpaying for your rent. I trust I don't have to explain supply and demand...or that collusion is a thing.

That empty building IS your business, and everyone else's, until and unless the housing use crisis ends and there is no longer any blight left in Los Angeles.

Too many addresses to list, citywide (and countywide as well).

Join the discussion!

C.C. de Vere

About C.C. de Vere

C.C. de Vere is a fourth-generation Angeleno. She is horrified at what greed and hubris are doing to Los Angeles.

This website was built by her preservation pals at Esotouric.

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