Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Beep beep BEEP

MB here...

It's noisy downtown. The general noise and hubub of the city doesn't bother me. Our loft doesn't face the street, we face a "light court". The building is U-shaped, and we have a nice little patio on one leg of the U, high enough to overlook the open air above the "arcade" portion of the Mercantile Arcade building. I have a nice view of the California Plaza buildings, and overall, it's pretty quiet back there. What noise there is is of the background variety. Traffic, laughing neighbors, etc.

The Arcade building consists of two 12-story towers, one facing Broadway just north of 6th street, and one fracing Spring street. Connecting the two towers is a walkable arcade filled with shops, so you can walk from Spring st. straight through the building to Broadway. It's been sitting empty above the ground floor ever since we moved in, but recently there has been an explosion of activity. Apparently the owners have overcome whatever obstacle has been in the road, and the conversion of the building to lofts is back on track.

The construction hasn't been loud or annoying at all. What has been annoying is the alarms. Occasionally, an alarm would go off in the building. Either a whoop-whoop alternating with a prerecorded voice instructing all within earshot to stop work and make for the exits, or an exceptionally annoying electronic beep. Beep beep beep. Three loud electronic tones emitting from the upper floors or roof of the broadway-side tower. Oddly enough, you really can't here the alarm from the floor of the arcade, but you can hear it from the parking lot north of the building on Spring, and you sure as hell can hear it in my loft.

For a while the alarm had been going off at odd times and running for anywhere from half an hour to a few hours before shutting off. But a week ago monday the alarm started beeping at noon and didn't quit until 10:00 PM. Really annoying.

Beep beep beep.

The following Wednesday, it went off again around Noon. Beep beep beep. I went next door and wandered around until I spotted some guys with "fire control" on their shirts. They really couldn't say anything about it, but they went and fetched a well-dressed young-ish dark haired guy they identified as their "big boss". "We are doing occasional tests, but it shouldnt' be going off on weekends" he told me. "It's going off now" I replied. "Now?" "Yes, Now." "Um, ok..." He got on the phone, and got the alarm shut off, but it was clear he had no idea it was running at all.

Beep beep beep.

Of course the beeps where back the very next day, at 10:00 AM. I had no idea how to contact anyone over there... I had neglected to get a number for the Fire Control guy, and there is no "In case of emergency" or "Managed by..." numbers on the building itself. There's probably some easy and simple way to get emergency contact info for any building downtown, but I don't know it. The building permits I retrieved from the Dept. of Building and Safety's web site gave the contractor as "Santa Fe Construction Co Inc; Lic. No.: 871003", with an address that Google showed to be a single family home in Winnetka. The contractor's phone #, (818) 326-3533, was a cell phone the no one picked up. The listed "Responsible Managing Officer (RMO)" for Santa Fe is Gregory Martin, and some googling of that name found that Greg Martin is the owner of the Arcade building, or a VP of the developer, "Fifth Street Funding", or perhaps the elusive avatar of a trio of front companies holding real estate on behalf of a wealthy and mysterious Australian family. Whatever. Calling Fifth Street Funding led me to Lucia Parisi, the manager of the Arcade Building.

Beep beep beep.

Lucia was able to get the alarm shut off in short order, once I convinced her that this wasn't just "testing", and that it was in fact running continuously. And the alarm pretty much stayed off, 'till today.

Beep beep beep.

The alarm is running when I get home today at 1:30PM.

Beep beep beep.

I call Lucia at 2, she's not in.

Beep beep beep.

I call Lucia an hour later, she's in but in a meeting.

Beep beep beep.

I convince the receptionist to break into the meeting, but Lucia "is aware of the situation and will take care of it ASAP"

Beep beep beep.

I call again at 4:30, everyone is gone for the day.


Listen developer people. I am your neighbor. I live here. I get to watch the comings and goings of your little construction project. And I'm not going away. Do you really want me to be the pissed off neighbor who spends his time filing complaints and taking photos and raising "issues" with the city and county, the police and the BID? Organizing the community? Showing up at every hearing to voice my concerns? Filing complaints with the LAPD Noise Enforcement Team? LA Building and safety? Of course not. And I don't want to be that guy. So shut off your goddamned alarm and pick up the phone when it rings. ok?


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found this post! I've been being driven CRAZY by the alarms there. The security guard on site had NO idea how to turn the alarms off.

Last week, the alarm ran from 10 in the morning until after midnight.

Anyway, there is a "Managed by" sign on the Spring street side. It's run by Downtown Management (if I recall correctly). Calling them during business hours will connect you with someone -- but all they say is "we'll see if we can get our contractor to shut it off" -- which then doesn't happen. After business hours, their "if this is an emergency" number doesn't work.

So, doing some research led me to the City's Alarm Ordinance, which requires that anyone using a fire/burglar alarm have a permit, display contact info of who to call if the alarm is going off on the outside of the building, and it further requires that the alarm automatically shut itself off within half an hour (which this alarm CLEARLY does not do).

Basically, before you call the management of the building, call the police (non-emergency) and let them know that there's an alarm going off. THEN call the management. The more people that call the police, the more likely the police are to ticket them for running an alarm without a permit. As for me, I'm sending them a cease-and-desist letter -- would you mind if I attached a copy of your blog post?

(I can be emailed at


MB said...

You can do what you like with this post... BTW I forgot to put in there, the building manager is Lucia Parisi, (213) 689-3232 ex 112.

Interesting point about the alarm rules. This post was about that run-to-midnight of the alarm. I've made two noise reports to LAPD police dispatch, on this night they called me back at 10:30 to ask me to let them in the gate. I explained that I don't live there, not my building, can't get in. I guess they couldn't find the guard.

As for why it went so long, I expect that I was put on auto-ignore by Lucia because the contractor who's installing the sprinklers (and I think is the one that turns off the alarm) was out of town for Thanksgiving, and no one else associated with the building or Fifth Street Funding knows how to do it.

In any case, last I heard of the alarm was Nov 25, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.