LA Mayor Says City Will Cut Off Utilities to Houses Hosting Gatherings

Getty Images
August 6, 2020

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti (D.) authorized the city’s utilities department to shut off water and power to households caught hosting indoor gatherings that violate the county's public health orders.

At a Wednesday press conference, Garcetti announced that the Department of Water and Power could shut off services to a residence if the police discover and report an indoor gathering. The mandate goes into effect Friday.

"By turning off that power, shutting down that water, we feel we can close these places down, which usually are not onetime offenders, but multiple offenders," Garcetti said.

Earlier this year, Garcetti allowed the utilities department to shut off water and power to nonessential businesses that failed to comply with public health orders.

While county health officials admit that outdoor gatherings are "risky" and "may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death," they say protests are not banned, as they are protected by the First Amendment. But indoor gatherings of any size—including religious services and wedding receptions—are prohibited. Failing to follow public health guidelines could also result in fines or imprisonment.