Soylent CEO Faces Criminal Charges Over Illegal ‘Experimental Living Facility’ in Montecito Heights

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Soylent inventor and Chief Executive Rob Rhinehart is pictured pouring a glass of the namesake drink at the company’s offices in downtown Los Angeles on July 29, 2016. (Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

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30-foot-long shipping container that a Los Angeles start-up chief executive tried to turn into a hilltop home has landed him in criminal court.

Rob Rhinehart, who founded meal replacement beverage company Soylent Co., has been charged with unpermitted construction and grading and zoning code violations, the Los Angeles city attorney’s office said Friday. They also charged him with failing to comply with city orders to remove the container.

Since Rhinehart installed what prosecutors called an “experimental living facility” earlier this year, it has become an eyesore — covered in graffiti and strewn with trash. Located on a popular walking destination in Montecito Heights known as Flat Top, the sight has angered neighbors concerned about appearance, safety and security.


Rhinehart bought the land where the container sits last year. Amid the recent uproar, he vowed to move the structure to a new location. He didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on the charges. In media interviews, he has complained of a rough neighborhood and the lack of police support to protect the thousands of dollars in improvements he said he made to the area.

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