As filming returns to L.A., neighborhood complaints rise

By Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Daily News

Television and commercial production crews are back in Los Angeles amid an uptick in production across the city. But as more shoots occur on downtown bridges and San Fernando Valley boulevards, Los Angeles residents are pushing back.

Complaints about filming were up nearly 20 percent this year, compared with 2013, according to Film L.A., the nonprofit that oversees production and issues permits. All told, the agency responded to 3,268 complaints in fiscal year 2015.

Gripes about a loss of parking made up a quarter of the complaints, said Film L.A. representative Philip Sokoloski. The frequency of filming and late filming hours also ticked off residents, he said.

The tug-of-war between neighborhoods and production crews comes as Los Angeles officials celebrate the industry’s return, helped most recently by $330 million in taxpayer subsidies offered annually to the film and television industry.

But as production jobs come back, so do complaints about city blocks swamped by trailers and production equipment.

In Encino, crews filmed at a house for two weeks over a three-week period, said resident Marc Gerber. The nonstop production prompted Gerber and other neighbors to seek a meeting last month with City Councilman Paul Koretz to complain.

“Basically, it’s this neighborhood invasion,” said Gerber, citing the noise and film crews.

In Hancock Park, there are “lots of complaints, more than last year,” said Cami Taylor, film liaison for the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, who said a persistent issue is intrusive lights from nighttime shoots.

In return for the constant shoots in Hancock Park, the HOA asks productions to donate money to the association to pay for neighborhood upkeep.

On-location television production shoots spiked in the third quarter of 2015, helped by the new round of subsidies, which went into effect this year.

Since 2012, filming is up 7 percent, according to Film L.A.’s Sokoloski, so more shoots can mean more complaints.

Film L.A. also has increased resources for neighborhood outreach, so “we view the resulting increase in complaints received as a measure of outreach success,” Sokoloski wrote in an email.

Encino’s Gerber wants more oversight, however. He points to a local law that restricts filming to “infrequent” use and questions whether that ordinance is being followed.

“We’re not against the shoots because a lot of us work in the film industry,” said Gerber, who spent 40 years in the entertainment industry and is now retired. “We just want oversight.”

Such oversight would come from Film L.A. and City Hall, which contracts with the nonprofit. In an email, Koretz spokesman Paul Neuman said the shots at 4411 Noeline Ave. were deemed acceptable, but his office had worked with Film L.A. and locals to mitigate effects from the production.

The work at the house included shoots for “American Horror Story” and a DirectTV spot, Gerber said.

“Obviously, we’ve been very actively reviewing and monitoring this matter, as we do with any such film site when a complaint has been received,” Neuman wrote.

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