Hawthorne approves SpaceX-adjacent apartment complex

A major apartment complex is on the way to Hawthorne after the city council approved plans for the mixed use project Tuesday in a contentious meeting that saw councilmembers arguing bitterly for and against the project.

The development is set to bring 230 apartments, along with 3,700 square feet of restaurant space, to the southeastern corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Jack Northrup Avenue. Just a half-mile from the Green Line, the project site is directly across the street from SpaceX and backs up against an Amazon shipping center.

Mayor Alex Vargas told the council that both companies had concerns about the project and asked that representatives from those companies be allowed to speak in a new public hearing session, though one had already been held in September.

Vargas suggested the new hearing would allow the council to consider lower density options for the project, which was initially proposed with 274 units of housing, as the Daily Breeze reports.

“Why not 200? Why not 150?” Vargas asked, suggesting that councilmembers had secretively contacted the project’s developer, Blackwood Real Estate, to reach a deal for the 230-unit version of the project.

Councilmember Angie Reyes English in turn accused the mayor, a former councilmember, SpaceX, and the city’s planning department of colluding “to trash this project.”

Eventually, the council voted 3-2 against reopening the public hearing.

“There is nothing left to discuss,” said Councilmember Olivia Valentine. “We have heard from all sides on this issue.”

In another 3-2 vote, the council approved the project, with Mayor Vargas and Councilmember Nilo Michelin casting the no votes.

Both the mayor and Michelin argued that the project was inappropriate for the area.

“We have an industrial zone and a residential zone,” said Michelin. “If we put a factory in the middle of a residential zone, it wouldn’t make any sense. Same thing if we put apartments right in the middle of an industrial zone.”

But Valentine argued that the transit-oriented development would bring housing and restaurant space in close proximity to a major train stop, paving the way for future commercial and residential development.

“If you don’t take a risk and make some changes, changes will not happen,” she said.

Hawthorne approves dense apartment building, rejects appeals from SpaceX and Amazon – Daily Breeze

A hotly divided Hawthorne City Council traded accusations of corruption, conflict and collusion Tuesday night before approving a dense apartment building that will share a corner with SpaceX, an Amazon delivery hub and other industry, despite strong opposition from those companies.

The council voted 3-2 to allow Blackwood Real Estate to erect 230 small apartments on Crenshaw Boulevard at Jack Northrop Avenue. The six-story project will occupy a rectangular 2.5-acre lot that will also include a restaurant and walking paths.

The so-called “Green Line” development, which needed waivers from the city because it violates several zoning restrictions, was sold as a modern, transit-oriented project by virtue of its location one-half mile from a Green Line station.

City Council supporters — Angie English, Haidar Awad and Olivia Valentine — also refused to allow a second public comment period to hear from representatives from Amazon, SpaceX and the railroad that runs directly behind the property who wanted to speak in opposition.

Mayor Alex Vargas and Councilman Nilo Michelin strongly opposed the development, and the city’s planning director raised several concerns about its incompatibility with city land uses. The project provides fewer parking spaces than the city normally requires, and apartments are smaller than Municipal Code allows. Residents there also will be subject to noise and emissions from the 24-hour industrial operations next to them.

“For me, change is not more apartments. It’s more aerospace companies,” Michelin said. “I was not elected to passively defend developers. We don’t need more apartments.”

Before the vote, council members accused one another of corruption.

Vargas said English’s proposal in September to reduce the apartment density from 274 units to 230 units was suspicious.

“Why are some council members entering into unilateral negotiations with the developer?” Vargas said. “We were prohibited from talking to the developer. Who chose that 230 number? Why not 150? Why not 80?”

English shot back: “Since (Vargas) put it out there, there’s a lot to be said. There’s also been collusion on his part. I want to know from the planning director how many times the mayor has been in contact with you. The bull has to stop.”

English also accused the nonprofit Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. of unethical behavior for opposing the deal.

“There’s a conflict with LAEDC and SpaceX,” she said. “SpaceX is a member of LAEDC, so of course they would be here to benefit SpaceX. They’re colluding to make efforts to trash this project.”

Valentine also said she believes it’s “very suspicious” that SpaceX and the LAEDC were in opposition because “this (apartment building) will make the area attractive for commercial development.”

Lilian Haney, community relations manager at SpaceX, asked the council to reopen a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, saying the rocket maker is concerned about the safety of homes so close to its headquarters.

“We do not think this project proposed is correct for this space,” Haney said.

Judy Kruger, a director at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., said the city should declare the area an aerospace park rather than building housing in an industrial area.

“Industrial land is employment land, and a critical factor in growing an industry such as aerospace,” Kruger said. “Jobs in industrial parks support high-paying jobs. Industrial land availability rates around the region are only at 1 or 2 percent and we don’t need to lose any more industrial property.”

But supporters said Blackwood’s project is the kind of modern, forward-thinking development that Hawthorne needs.

Kyle Orlemann, vice chairwoman of the city’s veterans affairs commission, said she would like to move to a place like the Green Line project when she gets older.

“The city is changing and, yes, we have a lot of rental units here,” Orlemann said. However, we have a lot of traffic. The city is going to be a model where people live near where they work. (Renters there) can certainly walk to Lowe’s and that development and take cars off the street. Using public transportation is the way of the future.”

Dense apartment buildings are a particularly sore issue in the city because, in the 1970s and ’80s, developers concentrated such projects in the crime-ridden Moneta Gardens neighborhood.

“We do have a lot of apartments,” said Alex Monteiro, a principal of Moneta Gardens Improvement Inc. “We have 70 percent renters. We need more homes and condominiums for sale, not for rent.”

Resident Andrea Santana accused Awad of having a conflict of interest because his father, who operates a used-car dealership and financing business, owns undeveloped land in the city. She has previously brought up concerns about whether the Blackwood deal will open the door to similar lucrative deals involving dense  apartment buildings.

Awad responded that he will make his personal finances public.

“I am clean,” Awad said. “When you’re clean, you have no fear of what’s in the shadows.”

Hawthorne not ready to green-light dense apartment building near SpaceX, Amazon



An extremely dense apartment building proposed for a site near SpaceX’s rocket manufacturing headquarters and a new Amazon delivery hub in Hawthorne provoked passionate arguments from supporters and critics this week before city leaders sidestepped a final decision.

After residents debated the issue for an hour Tuesday night, the City Council decided to more thoroughly study the proposal before revisiting the project on Sept. 26

“Approval of this project would set a precedent which would open the door to other developers who will seek to obtain density similar to this project,” resident Andrea Santana said. “The complex would place 274 rental units on less than 3 acres of land. It would increase traffic and congestion along already congested Crenshaw Boulevard and 120th Street.”

Virginia-based Blackwood Real Estate argues that the development is a perfect example of the kind of transit-oriented housing development needed across the region. It would be on Crenshaw Boulevard between El Segundo Boulevard and 120th Street, just south of the 105 Freeway.

“This is the type of high-quality housing we’ve been waiting for,” said resident Jason Gromski. “This is resort-style living, transit-oriented, popular with young professionals. We shouldn’t be held to the sins of the past and hold ourselves down.”

‘More traffic’

The six-story apartment project would include one ground-level restaurant and a public plaza. But, among other diversions from city code, its commercial portion would be only 8 percent of the overall development rather than the 40 percent required for mixed-use developments.

“I hate to rain on the parade but I disagree with this project,” resident Leatrice Tanner Brown said. “Just consider there is going to be so much more traffic and so many more people here.”

Dubbed the Green Line Mixed-Use Project because it’s a half-mile from a Metro transit facility, the site also is walking distance to Hawthorne Municipal Airport, Target, Lowe’s, PetSmart, 9 to 5 Seating, and other commercial and industrial businesses. The rear abuts active railroad tracks and the Dominguez Channel.

“I’ve long said to members of this council that area needs some type of development and I welcome this project,” said the Rev. John Jefferson, pastor of Del Aire Baptist Church. “Our community needs a complete overhaul and makeover.”

SpaceX officials, however, said the industrial location is not suitable for housing.

“While we do believe there is an absolute need for affordable housing in the city of Hawthorne, we do not think that this specific site is the place for it,” said Brett Horton, SpaceX’s senior director of facilities and construction.

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Amazon is now completing its delivery hub — a warehouse and shipping facility — at Crenshaw and El Segundo boulevards.

Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, whose district includes Hawthorne, Los Angeles International Airport, and Inglewood, sent a representative to express her support at the meeting.

“At this critical moment during our regional housing crisis, I applaud your vision in moving this project forward,” Burke wrote in a letter to council members. “Being less than one-half mile from Crenshaw Line station, projects like (this) allow for less vehicle traffic and more utilization of light-rail alternative transportation.”

New standards

The city’s Planning Commission approved the plan in July on a 3-1 vote.

But Planning Director Brian James has carefully outlined its dramatic changes from existing policy — triple the amount of density allowed, smaller unit sizes and balconies, reduced parking spaces and exposure to noise and odors from nearby industry.

“There’s been talk about a transit-oriented development,” James said. “These are basically employment or housing centers within walking distance of a transit station — it’s not just housing near transit. It can be jobs or a mixture. The goal is to increase mobility.

“The question you need to ask yourselves is: Is this project an acceptable trade-off for the loss of industrial-designated lands and the economic loss those represent,” James said.

Though the routine sounds of truck traffic, overhead aircraft, and trains aren’t the most welcoming neighbors, Blackwood officials said it’s the way of the future for dense urban areas.

“The arts district in Los Angeles is probably one of the most expensive places to rent in L.A. right now,” said Blackwood representative Gilad Ganish. “It’s a cool mix of restaurants, breweries, industrial, commercial, creative and residential. This is an area very similar in characteristics.”

But former Mayor Larry Guidi said all the round-the-clock trucking operations nearby would make for a terrible place to live.

“If you had any common sense, you would know that’s an industrial zone,” Guidi told the council. “SpaceX is against it. Our mozzarella factory has no interest in it. You need to stop it. You need to end it.”

Developer perks

To sweeten the deal, Blackwood has promised to pay for at least $100,000 in public art projects along Crenshaw, near the 105 Freeway. The company also said the project would generate $400,000 in city revenue annually and $11 million over 20 years.

New residents would be offered two years of free Metro passes and Zipcar car-sharing services. The address also would be a designated pick-up and drop-off zone for ride-hailing services Lyft and Uber.

“I would not be speaking against this project if it was (houses), but these are apartments,” said resident Mario Chiappe. “The problem we have here is mainly from high-density apartments. We have 82 police in this city. So what do you expect with this development?”

Councilwoman Angie English said the proximity to industry shouldn’t be a concern.

“If people are looking at the area for a potential lease or potential living, they would make their due diligence by looking at where they’re at with regard to the rail right next to them and any other issues,” English said. “I’m sure these people would know whether or not this is a fit for them.”

Dense 6-story apartment building adjacent SpaceX in Hawthorne gets initial OK



The Hawthorne Planning Commission has approved a six-story apartment building that would pack about 300 small apartments on less than 3 acres in a booming industrial area near the municipal airport.

The proposal flies in the face of zoning codes, placing hundreds of homes in the midst of heavy industrial operations. But the developer said its modern accommodations and proximity to public transit make sense for the region, and would be convenient for thousands of nearby workers.

The City Council will decide next month whether to move forward with Blackwood Real Estate’s request to override city zoning codes to erect the building at Crenshaw Boulevard and Jack Northrop Avenue, across the street from the SpaceX rocket manufacturing plant.

Planning Commissioner Mike Talleda, the lone dissenting vote Wednesday, said it’s too risky for a city already beset by parking and traffic problems. Commissioners approved the project on a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Pat Carey abstaining because he has a business in the area.

“It’s such a big project to put on such a small lot,” Talleda said. “Honestly, I don’t see it as a project that we need. And every building we have has an issue with parking. I don’t care how beautifully they present the case, there’s always a parking problem. If and when they do rebuild the (vacant Hawthorne Plaza) mall, that will do more to satisfy housing need.”

‘Resort-style, high-amenity living’

Residents packed City Hall with strong feelings both for and against the development. Many complained that traffic is already congested, and parking near impossible, in the area.

Others said it’s just what the city needs.

“I think this is the best thing that could ever happen to our city,” Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce President Pat Donaldson said. “I have spoken to over 700 employees at SpaceX who are ready to move in as soon as the project is complete. Over 230 businesses on Crenshaw, El Segundo, and Jack Northrop — and 127 residents in Holly Park — are in agreement and very happy to see this in our city.”

Directly to the north of SpaceX is Hawthorne Municipal Airport and commercial shopping areas.

SpaceX officials expressed early interest in the project in 2015, but have since pulled their support.

“Since (2015), we have significantly expanded our industrial manufacturing footprint immediately adjacent to this site,” said Brett Horton, SpaceX’s senior director of facilities and construction. “While we do believe there is an absolute need for affordable housing in the city of Hawthorne, we do not think that this specific site is the place for it.”

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Just south of the location, an Amazon Fulfillment Center is preparing to open inside a cavernous 170,000-square-foot warehouse on Crenshaw and El Segundo boulevards. The facility will have a 24-hour truck-shipping operation and 55 loading bays.

But Blackwood Real Estate representative Michael Jenkins said the housing project fits well into the fabric of the city.

The development would cater to “Hawthorne residents who are looking for move-up, resort-style, high-amenity living (and) executives who want to take advantage of the proximity to the airport,” Jenkins said. “Just at SpaceX alone, at least 1,500 people would want to live right across the street from where they work.”

Planners have concerns

Planning Director Brian James described a litany of problems with the development on Wednesday night.

“They want to change the land use to accommodate a project that allows unique standards that would result in a project that’s not currently allowed,” James said. “They also want to write their own zoning code for this property, with unique standards for density, parking, unit sizes and height.”

James also pointing to worries about limited parking, excessive industrial noise that could annoy residents, and an adjacent railroad. He also said it would set a precedent for this type of development, allowing others to do the same throughout the city.

Blackwood officials want to provide 450 parking spots for a project that the city would require about 750 spaces.

‘High-density rentals’

Reuben Sanchez, president of the North Hawthorne Community Association, said he was asked for support from Blackwood officials, and offered a donation, but refused.

“Let’s be truthful about this project — this is high-density rentals,” Sanchez said. “We don’t want any high-density rentals. We have empty, beautiful condos that could be rented by SpaceX workers, and beautiful other areas where they could purchase as well.”

But Planning Commissioner Rula Alshanableh said she loves the concept.

“I feel that it’s a beautiful design that’s going to attract a lot of young professionals,” Alshanableh said. “They don’t want the commitment of having to buy. Millennials are the future, and they are environmentally correct. My son doesn’t want to buy a car. They want to be using something that’s more green. So I think it would be a great addition to the city.”

New SpaceX-adjacent dense apartment development in Hawthorne up for initial approval



A dense mixed-use project that could provide hundreds of housing units for employees of SpaceX on a lot near the Hawthorne rocket manufacturing plant will be considered Wednesday night by the city Planning Commission.

Planning commissioners will accept public comment on the Blackwood Real Estate bid to erect 305 apartments and a restaurant on a 2.5-acre lot when the hearing starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 4455 W. 126th St.

City leaders haven’t endorsed the densely packed development on the southeast corner of Jack Northrop Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. The plan, which mostly calls for studio and one-bedroom apartments but includes a few dozen two-bedroom units, was sent to the Planning Commission without a recommendation to either approve or deny.

The six-level project, not far from a Metro Green Line park-and-ride facility, would share a corner with a liquor store, two gas stations and a small retail strip.

SpaceX’s director of construction and real estate, Bruce A. McHugh, said the fast-growing rocket builder could use new local accommodations.

“SpaceX supports Blackwood’s development project,” McHugh wrote in a letter to the city. “The benefits for SpaceX would be corporate housing, housing for our interns and employees, along with possible added amenities of a gym and a restaurant.”

But packing that many apartments in such a small area could pose a challenge for a city already contending with traffic and parking problems.

Blackwood, however, completed an environmental study of the potential impacts and has proposed mitigations. The company plans to build 450 parking spaces, in addition to the project’s proximity to public transit.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also threw his support to Blackwood.

“I feel this project is the type of forward-thinking effort that will strongly benefit the residents and businesses of the city of Hawthorne,” Ridley-Thomas wrote in a letter to the city. “The project’s proximity to the Metro Green Line will further strengthen the expanding regional transportation network, while also increasing the supply of quality housing to serve the growing workforce in the tech, health care, bioscience and aerospace industries.”

The Smart Bed and More Toys for the Digital Trends Smart Apartment

Smart-home devices sometimes require complicated installation that just doesn’t make sense for renters. Plus, apartments have different needs than single-family homes. That’s why we decided to outfit a whole condo with smart devices that don’t require rewiring or permanent installation. Each week, we’ll tackle a different category and look at various products, then explain how we made our selections. At the end of the series, we’ll examine the smart apartment as an ecosystem, and how all these devices — or do not — work together.

If I had to describe the smart home today, the word I’d use is disjointed. It’s hard to find a product in every category that has all the features you want — not one guaranteed to work with the devices you already own, anyway. In fact, there are a lot of devices that don’t fit in the typical categories that spring to mind when you think of the smart home: lights, locks, security cameras, and so on. But from smart toasters to connected alarm clocks to Wi-Fi-enabled trash cans, the enormous “miscellaneous” category is a catch-all for any home device that can connect to the internet.

Type smart fill-in-the-blank into Google and chances are there’s a Kickstarter for it.

And make no mistake, if you type smart fill-in-the-blank-with-any-crazy-idea-you-can-think-of into Google, chances are good there’s been a Kickstarter for it.

For the seventh installment in our Digital Trends Smart Apartment series, I decided to take a look at some of these one-off devices that don’t necessarily sync with my Wink hub or help make any tasks easier. Some are fun, others are actually useful. Hopefully none will get me hacked. That is a concern with some devices; if they aren’t coming from a known company, it’s hard to know their track record on security. That may not dissuade you from picking up the latest gadget, but it is something to think about.

With that said, I decided to try out four smart-home devices that are perfect for apartment dwellers, because they can easily fit in a moving van.

Snooze in a smart bed

For a few hundred dollars more than other mattresses-in-a-box, you can get a SleepNumber It Bed, which is embedded with sensors. While it can sync with an activity tracker you wear on your wrist, the idea is that lying on top of a bunch of sensors that track your breathing, heart rate, and movement will be much better at determining how you’re sleeping than a watch will.

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With sheets on, it’s hard to tell what’s smart about the It Bed. It hides its tech — including an air pump that lets you adjust the mattress’s firmness — inside the covering. You’ll never see the sensors, of course, and aside from a plug, there isn’t a lot to signal it’s anything but an ordinary mattress when the pump is tucked away in its pouch at the foot of the bed.

Everything is handled on the SleepNumber app, which lets you adjust the firmness, tells you how well you’ve been sleeping via a daily “score,” and reminds you to start getting ready for bed at a reasonable time each night. I found the app doesn’t get things right 100 percent of the time; sometimes it will give my husband’s sleep score, but not mine. Sometimes it’s the other way around.

After you’ve been sleeping on the mattress for a while, it starts to get you know you.

After you’ve been sleeping on the mattress for a while, it starts to get you know you — especially if you sync it with your Fitbit and tell the app all kinds of personal details, like what you eat, how much you drink, and so on. It starts to give you personalized recommendations based on this information, but it’s just advice. For example, if it tells you what temperature you sleep best at because it’s communicating with your Nest thermostat, it won’t tell that device to lower the temperature a few degrees. It won’t adjust the firmness by itself, either. It’s taking your data and giving you data in return, but it’s not reacting. SleepNumber actually addressed this with its upcoming, sure-to-be-expensive 360 bed, which stops people from snoring and warms up your toes when it’s time for bed.

Still, it’s a pretty comfortable mattress, and while I do ignore those “time for bed” alerts the bed sends me nightly, at least I get concrete feedback on how doing so affected my sleep the next morning.

Get some herbs

Gardening is difficult for apartment dwellers, but a recent glut of indoor gardens makes things a little simpler. I do not have a green thumb. I’ve never owned a plant; I’m pretty sure anyone who knows me realizes I would probably kill any gift greenery and has thus not burdened me by gifting me with it. That’s why I wanted to try the Smart Herb Garden by Click and Grow, which bills itself as a foolproof way to grow herbs and other plants. The Garden comes with three basil capsules, so you can start growing right away. Almost everything needed to start sprouting is contained within the capsule, so you just add water and plug the garden in. Add water every two weeks (you’ll get a reminder), and consult the app for tips and tricks. You’ll see little buds after a week or two and can start harvesting in about three months.

The one word of caution here is be careful where you place this sucker. Click and Grow recommends plugging it in for the first time right when you wake up, and with good reason. The LED light is bright. I keep mine in a closet in the office, because it can be dazzling. Because the light cycle is 16 hours on, eight off, even if you plug it in at 8:00 a.m., the light will stay on until you’re ready for bed. If you live in a studio, it might be hard to find a good place for it.

Framed

Artistic taste aside, the Memento is ridiculously expensive.

The beauty of digital frames is that you never have to get bored with what’s hanging on your walls. The Memento Smart Frame is app-enabled, so you can put up whatever pics you have on your phone, including those you downloaded from the internet.

Its 35-inch, 4K display is surrounded by a matte to make it a bit like a traditional picture frame, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. You can create different “albums” for it to cycle through, changing them every minute or more or less frequently. You can also adjust the contrast, saturation, and so on of your display. You can schedule it turn on and off at the same time every day or have it on longer during the weekends. It’s meant to be hung on the wall, which means there will be a cord hanging down and it needs to be situated near a plug. Memento does sell a kit to help you hide the cord a bit, but it requires painting.

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The Smart Frame stores up to 3,000 photos. I chose some cool-looking science photos I found online. At least, I thought they were cool. When my husband came home and saw them, he suggested they look like the backgrounds of motivational posters and should be emblazoned with words like “Persevere!”

Artistic taste aside, the Memento is ridiculously expensive. You could always just have your photos cycle through on your smart TV instead…

Nomnoms

There are a ridiculous number of smart pet devices on our planet right meow – sorry, right now. My cat will not stand for a collar at any time, but he loves to eat. Thus, I thought I’d try out the Petnet Smartfeeder on him. It’s an automatic feeder that also has an app that gives you a bit of insight into what’s going on with your furry housemate.

More: Petzi Treat Cam review

The thing with the Smartfeeder is that it needs to be plugged in. My little cat nook — aka, the place I put his food and water bowls — doesn’t have an outlet, so I had to find a new place. My cat didn’t really seem to appreciate this move, and though he regarded the machine curiously when it spit out food the first time, he didn’t approach it. It makes a kind of whirring sound typical of automatic feeders, which doesn’t seem to hold the same allure as me shaking his bag of food. To get him to investigate, I dropped some treats in the feeder’s bowl, and he seemed fine with it. He still seems to prefer his plain old stainless steel bowl, though.

The app lets you set scheduled feeding times and gives a recommendation for the amount based on your pet’s age, weight, and activity level. To me, this doesn’t seem like an exact science, as my cat is part Maine Coon, and they’re big. Twelve pounds might sound like a lot, but he wears it well. The app also seemed to shame me with my pet food choice; the “Food Report Card” showed a few red circles indicating the fairly pricey kibbles are deficient in protein and fat, and they also contain filler ingredients and artificial colors. Sorry, kitty!

Petnet had a server outage left year that left some pets hungry. It’s definitely not something I would trust if I was leaving the cat alone for more than a day. In fact, I’m supposed to get alerts when the device doles out food twice a day, but I found this wasn’t always reliable. When I scrolled back to yesterday, for example, it said it had only delivered a single feeding. I think this is because the feeder drops food directly down, meaning the nibblets tend to stay crowded in the back where it’s hard for him to reach.

I like the idea of having a reliable machine that can always deliver my cat his food at 6:00 p.m. on the dot, so hopefully updates will make the Petnet more trustworthy in the future.

More smart stuff?

My experience with all these devices has been far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean I’m not curious about adding, say, a smart alarm clock into the mix. Heck, I want to try out Simplehuman’s voice-activated trash can when it comes out. Smaller companies are coming up with some of the most innovative solutions, but it might take a while before their software and hardware work together perfectly, 100 percent of the time. I guess a smarter apartment isn’t necessarily the smartest apartment.

Police: Uber driver went home with passenger, burglarized his apartment

Arlington Heights Police said an Uber driver went home with her passenger and, with the help of a friend, burglarized the man’s apartment while he slept.

Ethel D. Townsend, 25, and Kevin C. Pitts, 25, both of the 2200 block of Windsor Lane, Country Club Hills, were arrested Monday and charged with residential burglary, a felony, in connection with a Sept. 4 burglary in Arlington Heights, according to Arlington Heights police officials.

Arlington Heights Police Sgt. Joe Pinnello said a 27-year-old Arlington Heights man contacted Uber about 2 a.m. on Sept. 4 after leaving a wedding in Rosemont, requesting a ride to his apartment in the 300 block of North Salem Avenue.

“He was driven home by the female Uber driver and upon arriving home, the female Uber driver accompanied him up to his apartment. They become friends during the Uber ride,” Pinnello said. He said the man went to sleep and when he awoke the next morning, he found the Uber driver gone and several things missing from his apartment, including an iPad mini and a PlayStation video gaming system.

Pinnello said the man contacted the driver through the Uber app and she denied taking anything and hung up on him. He reported the incident to Arlington Heights police later that afternoon, Pinnello said.

He said police worked with Uber to identify the driver. Pinnello said a friend later identified as Pitts was seen on security video leaving the apartment carrying items.

“Her acquaintance was summoned during the evening and arrived at the apartment and assisted in burglarizing this young man’s apartment,” Pinnello said.

The two were scheduled to appear in the Markham Courthouse in connection with an unrelated domestic battery case and when they arrived for court Monday, Arlington Heights police arrested them, Pinnello said. They were later charged and released with electronic monitoring devices. Their next court date is Feb. 9 at 9 a.m. in room 108 in the Rolling Meadows courthouse.

Neither Townsend nor Pitts could be reached for contact.

Uber officials said Townsend has been permanently banned from Uber.

“This alleged incident occurred off the app and the rider invited the driver into his home,” said Kayla Whaling, an Uber spokeswoman based in San Francisco. “We worked closely the Arlington Heights Police Department for their investigation and this driver was removed from the app in early September. She was driving on the app for a short period of time and I’m not aware of any other feedback of this nature.”

Whaling declined to say how long the driver worked for Uber and said Uber uses a third party, Checkr, to manage background checks of its drivers.

Elizabeth Owens-Schiele is a freelance reporter.

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