Trash-covered L.A. home draws outrage and a ‘Hoarders’ producer

For years, mounds and mounds of trash have surrounded a Spanish bungalow in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The front yard contains hundreds of white trash bags stacked 5 to 6 feet high. The bags are joined by a tangle of buckets and accumulated debris, such as shoes, scooters, empty pitchers, newspapers, Levi’s jeans and old cigarette cartons from Parliament.

The lawn is not visible. A short, ivy-covered metal fence blocks the property. The moats of trash in the yard reach the driveway, enclosing a red Toyota Corolla Twin Cam in crumpled tarps, coat hangers, broom handles, coffee cups, more newspaper and more plastic bags.

Nearby, an old downspout has been transformed into a sign with handwritten instructions to the U.S. Postal Service: “Drop U.S. Mail Here,” with an arrow pointing to a bucket on the ground.

For as long as they can remember, residents of this stretch of Martel Avenue, just south of Melrose, have complained to Los Angeles city officials about overgrown vegetation, mounds of trash and garbage.

Since last July, the Department of Building and Safety has handled more than a dozen complaints related to trash and improper storage at the property, according to city records. The complaints are still under investigation, but the city issued an order to comply in November.

With compliance nowhere in sight and piles of trash persisting, complaints have mounted this week, sparked in part by a post on Nextdoor and a KTLA report on what it calls the “trash house » from Los Angeles. The television station broadcast aerial images of the crowded court on Monday.

“There is a risk of fire. It’s dirty,” said Miriam Kosberg, whose family has owned the property directly behind the house since 1955. “There’s trash all the way to the back fence,” she added, pointing behind the family property.

Kosberg said she and her family heard animal noises in the yard and thought the swarm of mosquitoes in their yard was due to standing water and other trash nearby.

“It’s been like this for years,” Kosberg lamented. Eventually, their family built a wall in their yard to fortify their property.

“It’s unsanitary,” said another 22-year-old neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing his fear of online harassment.

She and other neighbors said one of the downstream effects of trash piles is vermin. They believe there are a disproportionate number of rats and mice in the area. Security cameras captured images of rats prancing on the retaining walls, neighbors say.

The woman said she had been complaining about the property since the early 2000s.

“We are fed up, but we are compassionate,” she insisted. “In a perfect world, he gets help and someone helps him make his environment more pleasant for him.”

The owner is Raymond Gaon, who has owned the two-bedroom bungalow since the mid-1990s, according to public records. The Times was unable to reach Gaon for comment.

For years, Gaon’s front yard and its debris were surrounded by a phalanx of tall plants, bushes and large trees.

In 2014, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety ordered Gaon to remove trash and debris, clear his driveway, remove overgrown vegetation and stop using his yard as open storage. Three years later, the city filed two misdemeanor criminal charges for failure to comply with an ordinance and failure to maintain its property; the case was dismissed in 2019 “in the interests of justice”. By this time, conditions on the property had noticeably improved.

Exterior photos of the home’s front yard from around 2018 and 2019 on Google Maps show the front yard was well maintained, although plywood slats obscured the view of a backyard containing debris.

Jonathan Fromen, a developer and contractor who built the house next door and is building another house on the same street, said he has gotten to know Gaon and his sister over the years. Gaon is often seen collecting bottles and other trash from the trash bins on Melrose Avenue. “He’s a super nice, kind guy,” Fromen said.

Around 2018 and 2019, Fromen remembers being delighted when he saw that Gaon’s yard was then being cleaned.

“Because it was fantastic for us,” he said. He and his team even helped clean up the property. There were “cars, animals, birds in cages,” he remembers.

At one point, tow trucks came to remove the cars from the scene, he said.

But for two years, the waste has continued to accumulate. A spokesperson for Katy Yaroslavsky said the Los Angeles City Council member’s office became aware of the home this week and was working with the Department of Building and Safety and the city attorney to address concerns.

Fromen said he offered to buy Gaon a container and help him fill it to clean up his yard.

But, at this point, he said, “I think the only thing that can be done… is for the city to force him to clean up his yard.” »

Courtney Lemarco, executive producer of the television show “Hoarders,” said he heard about the trash-strewn house from his hairdresser on Melrose Avenue.

On Tuesday, Lemarco – wearing a Versace shirt – was walking down Gaon Street and hoping to make contact with neighbors to see if the owner might be a candidate for his hit TV show.

“What we do is we can work with him to do the cleanup,” Lemarco said. But he said his show can also “step in and figure out what the root cause of this problem is and hopefully create some new patterns of behavior that can tackle that and help him break the habit.” .

While inspecting Gaon’s yard across the street, Lemarcao said he saw more than 100 homes of those who hoard.

“From the outside, it looks pretty extreme,” Lemarco said, before qualifying his statement: “You really can’t tell until you go inside.”

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