A new tax incentive boost has pushed Hollywood location shoots to record levels in Los Angeles, but it's also triggering a spike in complaints from residents who say production crews are repeatedly taking over their neighborhoods.
Since Summer 2015, a total of $330 million in taxpayer subsidies have been offered to help the film and television industry, in an effort to counter years of runaway production. The resulting big comeback in film activity on blocks all over the city is generating new jobs and revenue, accompanied by traffic problems, noise and other nuisances.
Residents of one Encino neighborhood say production crews keep returning to one home on Noeline Avenue in particular.
Homeowner Marc Gerber says "we recently had three shoots in three weeks!"
Gerber says as a former entertainment industry professional, he supports the return of filming to the city, but thinks his block is being overused.
"It's not a house, it's a soundstage for rent."
The I-Team obtained records from FilmLA, the non-profit that coordinates and processes production permits for the city, and handles neighborhood complaints.
Of the 2929 complaints filed with FilmLA in 2015, 364 came from LA City Council District five, which includes Encino, Bel Air and much of the Westside. 455 originated in District 14, which includes East LA and Downtown.
The top spot was District 4, which encompasses Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills, Larchmont Village, Windsor Square, Miracle Mile, Toluca Lake, Sherman Oaks, Los Feliz, Silverlake, and Hancock Park, and generated 482 complaints.
"Some people are very, very angry," said Cami Taylor, Film Liaison for the Hancock Park Homeowners Association.
Some homeowners direct their frustration at FilmLA, which says on its website that it "works to strike a balance between the needs and interests of the entertainment industry and the neighborhoods affected by on location production."
Financial records show that most of FilmLA's nearly $12 million revenue in 2015 came from permit coordination fees paid by studios and production companies.
Asked if that creates a conflict of interest, FilmLA President Paul Audley told the I-Team "I understand where [homeowners] might feel that would be true, since [studios and production companies] are paying us for service."
"The truth is," Audley continued, "they have to get the permit, so it's not as though there is some sort of "quid pro quo" happening."
One problem stems from the fact that while LA city code says "property in all zones may be used for the purpose of infrequent filming," there is no designated limit on the number of days.
"Exactly what 'infrequent' means, none of us seem to know," said Encino resident Carol Stulberg.
"'Infrequent' means different things in different parts of the city," FilmLA President Audley told the I-Team.
"We put great effort into being present and available 24/7 every day of the year for [homeowners'] calls, if something comes up."
The I-Team reached out to District 5 Councilman Paul Koretz, who's fielding more complaints these days about neighborhood disruptions caused by filming activity.
Asked if the city should better clarify what "infrequent" means, he said "that's possible...it's possible we should tight that up a little bit."
"We'll definitely take a look at that."
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the communities within District 4.