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Soylent Founder Faces Criminal Charges in Cargo Container Dispute

Neighbors have criticized the Soylent CEO's cargo container for allegedly attracting vandalism and crime.

The founder of the drink company Soylent faces criminal charges for setting up an unpermitted cargo container as a living space on his Montecito Heights property, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Friday.

Feuer has filed charges against Robert Rose Rhinehart Jr. alleging violation of zoning codes, failure to comply with the city building and safety department, and performance of construction and grading without permits.

Rhinehart faces up to two years in jail and a $4,000 fine, if convicted. City attorneys said they tried to work with Rhinehart in June, but he rebuffed removal orders and refused to agree to a compliance timeline.

Neither Rhinehart nor a representative returned an email Friday seeking comment.

"Unpermitted structures pose a safety risk," Feuer said. "They also can be unsightly and erode the quality of life in a neighborhood. My office will work to hold property owners accountable if they flout our building and safety laws."

City attorneys allege city inspectors who responded to complaints from neighbors in January observed unpermitted grading and construction taking place at the hillside property, at 2936 N. Ashland Ave.

In April, inspectors found that a red shipping container converted into what was being characterized as an "experimental living facility" had been placed at property. In June, investigators saw that the cargo container had been vandalized with graffiti and its windows broken.

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