In the wake of media reports about a localized rat infestation on a short block in Lake Balboa, an inspector from Los Angeles County Public Health responded Tuesday to the house identified by several neighbors in the 16600 block of Wyandotte Street.
Rats can be seen scurrying around the property in video recorded by the next door neighbor, who identified himself as Jerry. More rodents are apparent at night. An NBC4News camera saw numerous rats on the roof, in trees, and on utility lines.
"Our main concern is for our family’s health and wellbeing and also the wellbeing of our neighbors, including the homeowner who has the apparent issue. It’s not healthy to live like this in these conditions," Jerry said. The problem goes back years, but became worse in the last 18 months, he said.
The neighbor next to him said his attic became infested with the rodents, and cleaning and restoring it cost more than $6,000.
A woman who identified herself as Lisa, one of the property owners, disputed the assertion that her property is the center of the infestation, and the source of the rats creating nuisances at neighbors' homes. She speculated the rats may be coming from a drainage wash that runs nearby.
In a phone interview with NBC4, Lisa said she has taken steps to deal with the rats on her property, including trimming trees and removing some.
"I am being proactive, I am doing things, and it's just not fast enough for him, apparently," Lisa said, referring to her neighbor. She decried some of the responses he has taken, including rat bait traps and a BB gun, as not appropriate.
Jerry acknowledged his frustration in seeking a solution to the infestation that has dragged on so long without relief.
Neighbors suggested that food she stores for her animal rescue work is a lure for the rats. Tuesday, bowls with some type of food were visible beneath the boat on a trailer parked on Wyandotte outside Lisa's property. She denied that she keeps "humongous" amounts of feed.
A fence seals off the front of Lisa's property, with signs reading Private Property and No Trespassing.
The inspector who responded Tuesday found the front gate locked, and did not enter the property, but made observations from the sidewalk. He counted more than 20 rodent droppings in the driveway beneath an abandoned car, which was full of trash and debris, according to a statement issued by the Public Health Dept.
Based on neighbors attesting to several cats being in the house, Public Health made a referral to Los Angeles City Animal Control, the statement said, but did not indicate what further steps would be taken regarding the rats.
The City Councilwoman for the area, Nury Martinez, called the situation "appalling." Monday she indicated she would ask city staff to look into the infestation. Tuesday she said, after review, the city would rely on County Public Health "to deal with the vermin issue."
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the location of the home as Van Nuys. The correct location is Lake Balboa.