Charges filed against Soylent CEO over big red box on Lincoln Heights hill [updated]

Flat Top Hill | Martha Benedict

LINCOLN HEIGHTS –– The City Attorney has filed multiple criminal counts after Robert Rhinehart, whose company makes the meal replacement drink Soylent, refused to remove a cargo container on Flat Top Hill that neighbors says has become a magnet for criminal activity.

Rhinehart was charged with four criminal counts in connection with the container that sits on land he owns at 2936 N. Ashland Avenue. The counts include construction and grading without permits; zoning code violations and failure to comply with orders from the Department of Building and Safety. If convicted, Rhinehart could face up to two years in jail and $4,000 in fines. Arraignment is scheduled for September 7.

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

Rhinehart told Curbed L.A. that there have been no signs of illegal activity at the container, which he has described as an “eco home” and an ”experiment in sustainable living.” He also said that he’s frustrated by the city’s permitting system. “In the city of Los Angeles one may not install a garbage disposal without seeking a permit,” he said. “I feel like I’m living in the movie Brazil.”

The City Attorney issued a summary of actions city officials have taken in recent months:

“In January 2016, the Department of Building and Safety conducted an inspection of the property in response to community complaints of unpermitted grading and construction on the vacant lot. Subsequent inspections found further alleged unpermitted work continuing on the site. In April 2016, inspectors also observed a 9’ x 30’ bright red shipping container secured on the lot allegedly being used by Rhinehart as an experimental living facility. Follow-up investigations in June observed recently installed windows on the container had been smashed and the container was covered in graffiti.

A City Attorney Office hearing was held in June to resolve the violations. Rhinehart allegedly refused to remove the container from the site and agree to any timeline for complying with Building and Safety Orders.”

Update: One of our readers on Facebook posted a photo showing what looks like Rhinehart’s cargo container being transported away on a  truck.

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  1. So, why aren’t they filing charges against the unpermitted structures on Elephant Hill done by David Martinez and Anthony Cataldo in El Sereno (link below) ?
    They’ve both been ordered to remove their illegal structures. They both own property on the hill but the structures they live in are not on the property/land they own.


    • The law in L.A. only applies to people who willingly obey it.

      Only people who pay tickets get them, only people who apply for building permits get cited, only people who will show up for court get arrested, only people who buy car insurance are found at fault in accidents….etc.

      • Makes me think of two of my pet peeves…Getting ticketed for parking in alley for couple hours on street sweeper day (no other spaces available) yet LAPD won’t even show up when called because people in same alley are setting off heavy-duty fireworks in June.

        And yes, we pay any tickets.

  2. Sick of dumb tech bros

    They’re eating people!

  3. I moved from SF to La to get away from tech bros. I thought most of them are going to Seatle now to get away from the high priced rents. Hopefully this tech bro is just a one off. Lets build a wall around silicon valley and make the tech bros pay for it. Together, we can make California great again.

  4. Clean up illegal dumping in Lincoln Heights-

  5. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    LOL is absolutely correct. There is a whole separate population in Los Angles of people who live outside the law and are ignored by the law enforcers because there is no money to be made off of them by the city.

  6. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    Rhinehart should have just torn up the notices instead of answering them and the city would have eventually just forgotten about him.

  7. Its unfortunate that this rich, entitled white boy thinks he can move into a mostly brown, lower class neighborhood and feel like he can do whatever the fuck he wants because of his self entitlement.

    • the ghost of DJ Bento Box

      I think the people of chavez ravine will tell you its probably going to work out pretty well for him in the end.

  8. Living in a car on the street is more “sustainable” because the citizens, state, city or police are impotent to do anything about it.

  9. Absolutely right LOL!

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