December 4, 2021 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Landlord Sues Snap Over Fire At Former Venice Office

Benjamin Schonbrun files lawsuit against Snap, Inc. in connection to January fire

By Dolores Quintana

A Venice property owner is suing Snapchat for vacating a building that later burned down. 

Benjamin Schonbrun, owner of the building at 723 Ocean Front Walk, has filed a lawsuit against

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, and a number of other defendants for a fire that destroyed the building on January, 13, 2021 as reported by Business Insider. The building was 68 years old and had 6,952 square feet of commercial space that spanned from the addresses of roughly 600 to 723 Ocean Front Walk in the Venice Boardwalk area. The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 8, 2021 and also names Snapchat, CNA Financial Corporation, Continental Casualty Company, Hanasab Insurance Services, Inc., City of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti,  Los Angeles City Council Member Michael Bonin in the U.S. District Court. 

Snapchat was founded in Venice in 2011 and eventually leased a number of different addresses in the area after their number of employees expanded as their business grew in size and the company went public in 2017. The company had a contentious relationship with the Venice communtiy since their need for so much space to accommodate their workforce and the leasing of so many properties led to charges that they were engaging in gentrification. The accusation was that their extensive leasing of so many properties was causing long term community members and their small businesses to have to vacate their businesses’ premises with very little notice. Venice is now one of the priciest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. 

Schonbrun alleges in his lawsuit that “In September 2018, Snap vacated the premises and ceased maintaining the premises, as it was obligated to do under the lease agreement, thus abandoning both the premises and their legal duties and responsibilities under the terms of the lease contract” and furthermore that “Snap signed a lease for the premises through March 2022 that made the company responsible for its upkeep and security, adding that it failed to maintain both since moving.” as reported by Business Insider

However, as reported by the Westside Current, an unhoused woman who was a witness to the fire reported that she had been living near the building and in the alleyway for five years or since 2016. At that time, Snapchat was still in Venice and didn’t start to vacate the buildings in Venice until April of 2018. The article also states that the fire that destroyed the building was not the first fire that erupted in the alleyway. A video posted by the account Venice Safety on Youtube and shot by resident Jeff Leahy shows another fire that broke out in October of 2020. While this is not proof that Snapchat is not liable, it does potentially show that the encampments existed before Snapchat vacated the building and were a longer term issue. Housing for the homeless is a controversial issue that is facing the city of Los Angeles both because of the Covid 19 pandemic and the numbers of encampments all around the city. This fire shows the chilling potential for loss of life among the unhoused or residents of buildings and large scale property damage. The fire that destroyed the building did not cause any deaths or injuries. 

Schonbrun is seeking $8 million dollars in damages from an estimate of $2.5 million to rebuild the building and additional damages from trebling or asking the court for three times the amount due to deliberate wrongdoing. In this case, the trebling damage request comes from charges in Schonbrun’s lawsuit that Snapchat and the insurance companies engaged in “fraud, breach of contract, and bad-faith insurance”. Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember Bonin are part of the lawsuit for allegedly being aware of the encampment and not taking action to disperse it as reported to Business Insider

Snapchat has issued no comment regarding the lawsuit after being contacted for this article.

Related Posts

Holiday Festivities at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

December 4, 2021

December 4, 2021

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel brings the magic of the season to life with festivities for the entire family, from...

Six-Story Palms Development Given Green Light

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

Geneva@Hughes North would bring 43 apartments to Palms  By Dolores Quintana A new apartment development called Geneva@Hughes North has been...

Del Rey Car to Car Shooting Ends in a Hit & Run Crash

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

Police are searching for suspects wanted in connection to a recent car to car shooting in Del Rey.  At 1:14...

Developer Donates $1 Million to Support Housing Development at the West Los Angeles VA Campus

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

Pledge includes a $500,000 monetary donation and $500,000 in pro bono work By Staff Writer Hudson Pacific Properties, Inc. has...

State’s Housing Solution Starts Happening

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

By Tom Elias, Columnist It’s happening. Despite the best efforts of California’s highly ideological, developer-financed state legislators, the solution to...

10th Annual Venice Holiday Sign Lighting is This Weekend!

December 2, 2021

December 2, 2021

Venice Chamber of Commerce’s annual tradition returns Saturday evening By Sam Catanzaro The Venice Holiday Sign Lighting returns this weekend...

Enforcement of COVID Vaccine Mandate Begins for Los Angeles Business Owners

December 2, 2021

December 2, 2021

Fines of up to $5,000 now in effect By Dolores Quintana Enforcement of the SafePass Ordinance in Los Angeles began...

Two Public Gigs for Venice Group the Off Jingle Bell Rockers

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

December 4 and 12 Santa Monica concerts By Staff Writer Local group…the Off Jingle Bell Rockers will be performing once...

Homicide of 50-Year-Old Homeless Man Under Investigation

November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

Detectives seek public’s help identifying suspect for recent Mar Vista homicide By Sam Catanzaro  Homicide detectives are seeking the public’s...

New Wine Bar Opens On Abbot Kinney Blvd: YO! Venice Show – November 30, 2021

November 29, 2021

November 29, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.*  New Wine Bar Opens On Abbot Kinney Blvd* Rivean Has Opens First...

Venice Beach Anti-Vax Poster Painted Over

November 23, 2021

November 23, 2021

Ocean Front Walk poster reading “Leave the Vax, take the Cannoli” removed By Sam Catanzaro An anti-vaccination poster on Venice...

LA City Council To Consider Strict Encampment Ballot Measure: YO! Venice Show – November 22, 2021

November 22, 2021

November 22, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* LA City Council To Consider Strict Encampment Ballot Measure * Marina Del Rey...

OC Restaurant Puts up Provocative Anti-Vax Mural on Venice Beach

November 22, 2021

November 22, 2021

Ocean Front Walk mural to remain in place for 60 days By Dolores Quintana “Leave the Vax, take the Cannoli,”...

Bonin, Kuehl Share Details on West LA Civic Center Redevelopment

November 19, 2021

November 19, 2021

West LA Commons to include over 900 units of housing alongside retail and municipal office building By Dolores Quintana A...