City Hall Takes Aim at a Beloved Venice Treehouse

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On May 22, a diligent public servant at Los Angeles City Hall wrote a letter to a Venice homeowner about the treehouse that’s been in her yard for 10 years. And you just know, don’t you, that a story with this beginning will not have a happy ending?

Venice Tree House

Eileen Erickson is fighting to keep the treehouse in the front yard of her Venice house. (credit: LA Times)

Back then, Antonio Villaraigosa was in his final weeks as mayor, having presided over a precipitous decline in city services during his eight years. He has since gone on to greater glory, signing on last week as an advisor with Herbalife, a company that has been accused of operating an illegal pyramid scheme and is under attack from Latino civil rights groups.

But I digress. The owner of the well-maintained treehouse is Eileen Erickson. She lives on a Venice walk street not all that far from a neighborhood I wrote about recently in which residents spent years begging the city to repave their horribly potholed streets, only to be told that they would have to pay to fix their own curbs first. So you can understand Erickson’s surprise and frustration when she opened the letter from the city’s Department of Building and Safety and read through two pages of bureaucratic gibberish identifying no fewer than 17 code violations. She was ordered to “demolish” the treehouse or face thousands of dollars in fines and possible imprisonment.

“Everyone thinks it’s ludicrous, given the many problems in the city,” Erickson wrote to her council office at one point during her ongoing nightmare. She noted in that correspondence that she gathered hundreds of signatures from neighbors hoping to save the treehouse, which has been treasured by many children.

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