Modifying Permitting Rules. Please Join Me in the Fight

I had made a posting about this just before shut-down. It was obviously a last priority at that point. Recently I sent out the email below to Mayor Garcetti and to all of the Los Angeles councilmen. So far, I have had only one response. However, if you will join me, it might have more weight.

The email I sent:

I do believe that the current regulations of FilmLA are actually losing the city money. The rules were made for much larger productions, with bigger budgets, than are often taking place at this time in history. I have a location. I follow the rules. However, several times a month I have to turn down bookings either because the fee is too high or the waiting time too long. The client simply books with another venue which does not require permits. So in the end, the rules are broken and FilmLA/ the City gets nothing.

FILMING:

Filming always used to mean a substantial production with a lot of people, trucks, equipment, generators, etc. Shooting digitally with LED lighting now allows a smaller footprint, less impact on neighbors, smaller crews. We’ve had documentary interviews with a crew of two and one subject.
There is more “filming” than ever, with smaller budgets. It would help the entire community if the process, requirements, and fees were reviewed and adjusted to reflect today’s production environment.

In 2017 you launched a pilot program, the Digital Makers Initiative, to address this issue. To quote Mayor Garcetti, “Los Angeles has always been home to pioneers of the entertainment industry, and we should take down barriers to the kind of creative, future-minded innovation that small digital filmmakers represent.” I am sorry to see these barriers rebuilt.

Indeed, the films I have been turning down generally have a crew of no more than 25 people, usually under 15. There are no explosions, no stunts, no car chases, or anything which would be dangerous or impact the neighbors as long as the parking rules are maintained.

STILL PHOTOGRAPHY:

Here, the fees for the permit alone are fair. However, since the shoots are usually set up last minute (as are most of the film shoots) the waiting time is prohibitive. Most of these shoots are either fashion shoots or celebrity shoots with 3 to 12 people. They generally last only 4 to 6 hours, sometimes less. The impact on the neighborhood is less than that of a dinner party. I would like to suggest that on these tiny shoots you lessen the waiting time and eliminate the need for notification. In the digital age, checking for the insurance & parking should be able to be done instantly online in the same way as we can get approval for credit cards instantly.

To sum up my suggestions for modification:
• • Reduce the fees for smaller films with generally the same rules as the defunct Digital Makers Initiative
• • Reduce the waiting time for small films either by putting someone on to oversee it during the weekends and on holidays
• • Give instant approval for small still shoots according to an algorithm.
• • Eliminate the need for neighbor notification on small still shoots. This will also enable low-budget shoots to pay the fees and to generally follow the rules.
Thank for taking the time to read and consider this,

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Hi Yvonne,
I completely agree with your letter. Please lmk if you received a reply. I will send an email as well. LMK if you have any new info.

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I only got a reply from councilman Ryu. He said he would take it into consideration. It was a rather generic letter. However, I believe that if more people wrote to the mayor and to all of the councilmen, it would be taken more seriously. That is why I posted it here. You can easily find a list of the councilmen and the mayor here:

I wrote not only to my representative, but to all in Los Angeles since I believe this is a city-wide issue. So if you and anyone else you know could join me, perhaps we could see some change.

Yvonne

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Hello Yvonne, your letter is very well thought out, and very well written, and I believe you are addressing an important issue. I assume you live in LA county, the funny thing is filming rules are much more stringent here than almost any other city in the US.
I personally know of a couple of attempts to address this through other platforms, however I don’t think this will change. One of my pet peeves, which is one you describe, is that some hosts are not aware of filming rules, or don’t feel obliged to enforce them, and therefore give clients the impression that it’s us who are being difficult. I feel, in Los Angeles County, the platform should also make it mandatory to get permits, just as location companies do. This would make Peerspace much more respected by the city, and would level the playing field for the hosts. I personally really agree with you, that especially in the time of Covid, some of these shoots are so small, and many do not have real commercial interests, making it unfair for some people. With that being said, many larger companies, with plenty of money, and big commercial interests, are shooting smaller productions, as they are adapting to a new norm, and they also don’t want to get permits. Which leaves us hosts having to defend the permit system. In my case, I always insist on a permit, and I have to explain why to a lot of people. Peerspace should make permitting mandatory in Los Angeles at least, but also try and negotiate with the city, a simpler permit system for smaller groups, (perhaps under 10). This obviously won’t be popular with many hosts, but it’s they only legal and fair way to give equality to the platform, and set an example that is compliant with the city.

Location hosts aren’t responsible for permitting or enforcing permit rules. Since we’re not the ones doing the production, we shouldn’t even be required to know permit laws. If anyone has told any of you differently, they were incorrect. Plausible deniability.

As hosts, what I do and what everyone else should be doing, is to assume that your guests have secured the necessary permits, whatever they may be (I genuinely don’t know).

Unless someone is paying Peerspace hosts to be permit cops, they can handle enforcement on their own, if it’s so important to them! :slight_smile:

Deacon,

You are somewhat right, but not exactly. The police, or the film police, have the discretion to fine the hosts. They usually don’t do that. But they can. Furthermore, if we receive an inordinate number of complaints for non-compliance, they can block filming in your location for a while. Another host was blocked from getting permits for a full month and subsequently had to hire a minder from Film LA to stay throughout the filming at a cost of $100 per hour.

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This is good to know! I actually really agree with how strict they are in regards to filming.

I’m actually really happy that you replied, as I want to issue a strong warning to other hosts about a recent experience that I had.

I recently had to drop dime to Film LA on a production that I hosted. It was a music video for Rita Wilson’s song “I want to kiss Bob Dylan”.

They booked it as a 10 person production and told me (on camera) during the site tour that they would only be filming in the bedroom and only using the main area as a ‘waiting area’ for COVID compliance. The video of that is here: https://youtu.be/A6BFn0JWo_A

In actuality, they brought in excess of 30 people and in the span of minutes, they completely tore up my home. I swear to God that in the time it took me to reboot my Eero routers because my cameras had frozen, they had moved every single piece of furniture in my home (it clearly states that I don’t allow furniture to be moved), tore off the wall decor and were running a haze machine (my listing states that smoke machines can’t be used either).

Plants were broken, two couches were broken (they moved my modular furniture without disconnecting it, which broke two of the frames) and then later when I was inspecting the damaged plants, I didn’t see that they were standing on the backs of the couches.

When I pointed out the damage to the guest, she got so aggressive that her friend physically restrained her. They called me a liar and a scammer as well, despite showing them the damage.

It’s like the time that drunken professional boxers from Box N Burn threatened to punch my fiancée when it was time for them to leave. They weren’t banned either.

I submitted for the occupancy overages and the damage to the plants and furniture, which would have come out to $720 for the occupancy overages and about $700 for the property damages.

I even went through the security camera footage and easily selected 32 individual people. There were more than 32 (some people came and went), but I figured this was enough evidence: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AqHDcQ66f_EvoP5PDOYV4nW1FIBRDg?e=mr5sOM

Instead of banning this utter nightmare of a guest, they not only failed to pay me, they told the guest that I was lying. She presented that as evidence for an upcoming Fairclaims hearing. Complete and utter fail, because she’ll do the same thing to another host.

Funnily enough though, her own insurance sided with me. GO FIGURE!

I then learned from Film LA that they didn’t even have a film permit. I employ ‘plausible deniability’ and don’t play permit cop myself, but to have an A list celeb and no permit is just stupid.

So my recommendation: throw everyone the eff out anytime something is hinky. My time hosting on platforms is growing short after that disaster and a few other recent incidents. I’d kind of like to feel like I was in control of my own home again.

Deacon, unfortunately you are 99% wrong regarding this. In fact you are doing your community, and the Peerspace community, a huge disservice in saying this. You should not be a permit cop, but at least in Los Angeles county, where there is a lot of filming, you should strive to work within the guidelines of state and local legislature regarding filming. I agree with Yvonne that some of the permitting rules need to adapt to a world where filming comes in very different shapes and sizes. But letting your clients do what they please when it comes to obeying permit rules, will come back and slap you in the face, especially if your location becomes very successful. I actually feel strongly that film permitting should be addressed more carefully on the platform, so that we all adhere to the same criteria. I insist on permits to be pulled. I get people complaining all the time, that “since Blah, blah, blah, didn’t insist on a permit, why should you?” Believe me, you will get punished for other peoples actions, if you don’t understand the rules, and make sure that teams are relatively compliant. In my case, I am also a director, and I believe in supporting the business that I work in.

Why would the location manager be a part of the permit process? I mean if you want to, go ahead, but all you have to do if you’re worried about things from a legal standpoint is put in your listing that upon booking host assumed that the guest has secure all necessary permits from the proper permitting office (Film LA).

Or I can just be wrong. I don’t want to go back and forth with another host about stuff like this, as we will all ultimately do what we feel is best for our space.