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Park La Brea Complex Plagued By Roaches, Broken Elevators, Tenants Say

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We have the largest apartment complex west of the Mississippi here in Los Angeles, nestled near the Grove. Park La Brea is advertised as a picture-perfect Pleasantville-like community with a luxurious vibe, but not all that glitters is gold. Tenants have been complaining that the complex is plagued with cockroach and rat infestations and constantly broken elevators.

It's easy to see how the over 70-year-old Park La Brea community in the Fairfax District can look appealing to some renters, especially young professionals and families. The huge complex, which has over 4,200 units and 11,000 residents, also has 18 high-rise towers, each 13 stories tall. It's conveniently located just across the street from the Grove and LACMA, and is surrounded by lush gardens and fountains. The colors of the buildings may come in banal white, beige and shades of mustard yellow, but on the flipside, the community has amenities like outdoor cafes, gyms, pools, a theater, clubhouses, and business meeting rooms. Park La Brea also comes with a hefty quasi-luxury price tag, with studios starting at $1,700 and three-bedrooms going up to $3,500 a month. The company released this video advertising their apartments earlier this year, set to epic, uplifting orchestral music:

However, LA Weekly recently interviewed some of the unhappy tenants living there and found that the cockroach problem is really, really bad, so much so that one resident, Hannah Park said she came home one summer day to find hundreds of of roaches crawling in her kitchen and dropping from the ceiling. Shudder, our worst nightmare. Another tenant complained about how the elevators in the high-rise were constantly broken down. In 2013 alone, the Los Angeles Fire Dept. was called to the community over 40 times to save residents from broken elevators, LA Weekly found from media reports.

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On Yelp, Park La Brea has a paltry 2-star rating with 206 reviews, which seem to be on both ends of the spectrum, with commenters either hating it completely with one-star reviews or singing its praises with five stars. We found that there were plenty of residents exasperated with the same problems, and then some: roach infestations, broken elevators, safety concerns, stolen packages, lack of parking, paint chipping off the walls, water heater issues, and a slowness for maintenance to deal with their problems. Here were some of the most egregious issues addressed on Yelp:

"Roaches. The roach problem at Park La Brea is not a problem it's an infestation. The roaches are huge and they are everywhere, in the kitchen, the bathrooms, and even on the ceilings. They were so large you could hear them walking on the hardwood floors. I tried everything to stop them. I called maintenance and they responded with, "We spray monthly", I also used roach traps, and finally started putting towels under the cabinets and along the doors. Imagine sleeping at night with the fear that roaches are crawling around and raining from the ceilings." —Matt G., 1-star, Jan. 9, 2015 "Elevators out AGAIN. It's been 21 days since notice has been posted and yet it's still it fixed. If your [sic] planning on moving here DO NOT!" —Wil K., 1-star, Jan. 9, 2015, see the note here

"HUGE COCKROACH problem -- inside the apartment, outside on the sidewalks, EVERYWHERE. We've reported the issue OVER A MONTH AGO, the Maintenance Dept. came out and assessed the problem, then told us they'd schedule a fumigation. We've called countless times to determine when they'll fumigate, although all we get is their voicemail and no return calls. THIS PLACE IS A JOKE." —Nicholas M., 1-star, Aug. 31, 2014

"The tower elevators are always broken. My good friend lives in a tower. I always take the stairs (7 floors) and see the elderly people/people with groceries and children/disabled people stranded." —Hannah P., 1-star, September 17, 2014

"God I hate living here. Elevators are always broken. Water heater is broken and the paint chips off the walls. One of our bathrooms has no vent so nothing's ever dry in there and I fear mold." —Adam D., 1-star, March 2, 2015

"Also, after an armed robber locked himself into a Tower, the communication was non-existent. A classmate of mine who lives in the tower actually had to call and ask what was going on when he came home to 20+ police cars and the SWAT Team! The office's response was 'what do you want us to do about it'?" —Tom D., 1-star, March 22, 2015

Park La Brea's resident services manager, John Burney, told LA Weekly that they're trying to address their tenants' problems. They set up a 24/7 call center last year so residents could call with any issues, have made improvements to pest control and are working on updating the elevators.

Burney's been on Yelp responding to the complaints. On October 3, 2014, he responded to someone's complaints on roach problems:

"We understand that some residents have been experiencing issues with pest control. The end of a hot summer can be a difficult time for controlling pests. We regret the inconvenience this issue has caused for our residents. Though pests are often an unfortunate fact of life, we understand that there is always room to do more. That's why we are adding significant resources to assist our residents with pest issues and taking a close look at how we can make this service to our residents quicker and more effective moving forward. Thank you."

And another on elevator problems:

Park La Brea is happy to announce our elevator modernization program will include additional new elevators beginning in October for four of our towers. We are very pleased with this [program's] progress this year and we hope you are too. We are also pleased to announce additional towers are nearing completion with the addition of new plumbing that will allow washer and dryers in units.

Though, that hasn't seemed to stop all the problems, as people have still been complaining on Yelp since. Despite all these issues, it seems like renters can't help but flock to Park La Brea. In a 2012 interview with the L.A. Times, resident Rome Viharo said, “I always hated Park La Brea — a place for old people, the monotony, a middle-class housing project, the antithesis of L.A." But he changed his tune when he had to find a family-friendly place where his young son could make friends and ride his bike in the golf resort-like community.

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