The City of Burbank has “red-tagged” Tinhorn Flats for safety violations on Wednesday as part of multiple attempts to prevent the establishment from operating after COVID-19 violations.
The building has been identified as unsafe and as such, the building may not be used or occupied. The prior “yellow tag” notification issued Tuesday was the precursor to, and a notice that the building would be red-tagged on March 31, according to the City.
“This past weekend, the owner of Tinhorn Flats and its representatives have been served with administrative citations for violating the City’s zoning codes because their Conditional Use Permit had been revoked by the City Council,” said City officials in a statement.
At this point, the owner and their representatives have citations totaling $2,500.
The Conditional Use Permit was revoked by the council on Feb. 22, citing Tinhorn Flats’ “flagrant disregard for life safety and violations” of the Los Angeles County Health Officer Orders, which endangered the public health, safety and welfare, along with creating a public nuisance, according to the City.
To date, Tinhorn Flats continues to operate without a health permit.
On March 29, City staff formed a safety task force to inspect Tinhorn Flats for life-safety violations.
The task force was formed due to Tinhorn Flats continuing to operate even though their electricity had been disconnected as authorized under the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the City.
The TRO also ordered the restaurant to close until all necessary permits to operate were obtained. Staff from the fire department, police department, community development, Burbank Water and Power and city attorney’s office are part of the task force.
The notice of violations was issued on March 30, included violations of the Burbank Municipal Code, California Electrical Code, California Building Code, Uniform Mechanical Code and the Uniform Plumbing Code, according to the City.
“There are multiple fire/life safety violations that have been brought to the business owner’s attention. These violations may create life safety hazards to any occupants in the structure,” said Eric Garcia, Burbank Fire chief in a statement.
City officials allege the violations are concerning from a life-safety protection perspective.
“Running cords from a generator to an electrical panel and using the electrical breakers as switches is a fire hazard,” said the City’s statement. “Additionally, this is exasperated by non-working exit lights.”
Wednesday morning, the task force red-tagged the Tinhorn Flats after clearing the building of all occupants without incident and the City padlocked the doors.
“If anyone cuts the locks and reopens or enters the building, they can be taken into police custody for refusing to leave the building and the Burbank Police Department can take other appropriate action,” said the statement.
The City continues to pursue its civil suit in court and will return for a hearing on April 9, regarding the City’s request for a preliminary injunction to close Tinhorn Flats until it receives all necessary permits to operate.
The TRO already issued by the court is currently in effect until the hearing. The red-tagging of the building is separate from the civil suit and TRO issued by the court, according to the City.
City Of Burbank Extends Outdoor Dining Changes, Commercial Eviction Ordinance
The Burbank City Council approved the extension last week of outdoor dining changes and a commercial eviction ordinance which were enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outdoor dining ordinance is expected to allow restaurants to continue to expanded tables in private parking lots until Dec. 31, unless extended again, according to the City.
Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed County staff to explore options to make similar dining expansions permanent.
Burbank officials said the “devastating economic impacts” of the Safer at Home order are still being felt, citing a loss in jobs across L.A. County.
Many of the jobs lost were in the hospitality industry, however, in the past several months some of these positions are coming back.
“As the pandemic fades, the negative economic impacts will continue,” the dining ordinance said. “As such, the City should consider the welfare of its businesses while protecting the health and wellness of its citizens.”
In addition to the dining expansion, the Burbank City Council also extended the local commercial eviction moratorium until Sept. 30.
The commercial eviction ordinance for commercial tenants does not forgive the payment of rent, but rather acknowledges a commercial tenant is still obligated to pay any missed rent as deferred payments.
Any deferred rent will be due six months after the end of the expiration of the Ordinance in September, unless extended again, according to the City.
This means all deferred rent would be due on March 30, 2022. Additionally, the property owner may not charge or collect interest, late fees or other penalties that could accrue on unpaid rent through the end of the six-month grace period.
Residential evictions continue to fall under Assembly Bill 832, which increases the value of the reimbursement the state’s emergency rental assistance program.
The City Council continues to encourage commercial tenants to pay any portion of the rent they can afford along with speaking with landlords to arrange a repayment plan.
Outdoor Dining Program Extended In L.A. For At Least One Year
Outdoor dining spaces are set to be in place for at least one more year after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a new ordinance extending COVID-19 measures for bars and restaurants.
The emergency ordinance, expected to be codified within the next two weeks, extends the City’s “Al Fresco” program which allows dining areas to expand into parklets, sidewalks, parking lots and other areas near businesses.
After 12 months, the City Council has the option to extend the program for up to two more years, according to the ordinance.
The order also suspends the previous requirement that restaurants provide a minimum number of parking spots for vehicles taken up by the expanded dining area.
L.A. Al Fresco aims to help local businesses reopen safely, and allow customers and employees to maintain physical distancing by temporarily relaxing the rules that regulate outdoor dining.
On May 29, 2020, Garcetti launched the first phase of L.A. Al Fresco to support outdoor dining opportunities for restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, in coordination with the L.A. County Department of Public Health allowing dine-in service at restaurants.
Permits through the program were previously expected to only be valid through Sept. 1, 2021.
This action comes at the heels of a similar extension by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last month.
The supervisors called upon County staff to establish permanent guidelines for expanded outdoor dining spaces in sidewalks, alleys and parking facilities.
“We should make every effort to ensure this program becomes a permanent option for eateries throughout the region,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “This is a valuable resource for the restaurant and hospitality industry, which was devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 closures.”
Tinhorn Flats Evicted From Burbank Property After Repeated Violations
Tinhorn Flats, a Burbank bar that repeatedly deified orders to close during the pandemic, has been evicted from its Magnolia Park building.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department turned over possession of the Tinhorn Flats’ location to the property owner, Isabelle Lepejian, as the last step in the eviction process she initiated against the establishment, according to the City of Burbank.
The eviction proceeding is a separate legal action from the recent temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction issued by the Los Angeles County Superior Court in the City’s civil suit against Tinhorn Flats for continuing to operate after revocation of its public health permit and Conditional Use Permit.
The permanent permit was revoked by the Burbank City Council on Feb. 22, citing Tinhorn Flats’ “flagrant disregard for life safety and violations” of the Los Angeles County Health Officer Orders, which endangered the public health, safety and welfare, along with creating a public nuisance, according to the City.
In March, the building was “red-tagged” as part of multiple attempts to prevent the establishment from operating after COVID-19 violations.
Tinhorn Flats co-owner, Lucas Lepejian, 20, was later arrested after removing sandbags placed by the City of Burbank in front of the establishment to prevent anyone from entering, due to the unsafe conditions, according to the Burbank Police Department (BPD).
Isabelle Lepejian is the mother of Lucas and ex-wife of Baret Lepejian, who is the other co-owner of the establishment.
The Tinhorn Flats owners said they are raising money for a legal defense fund to reopen the restaurant.
“We will not comply with tyrannical rules and closures,” the owners said.