FOLLOWUP: Arson investigation after eight SFD calls in five days at Fauntleroy Lofts

(WSB photo)

When a Seattle Fire Department “full response” was sent at midmorning Friday to 5949 California SW – the 2-year-old microstudio apartment building known as Fauntleroy Lofts – it was the eighth time SFD had been called there in the past five days. And while today’s “full response” was for a kitchen fire, some of the other incidents have led to an arson investigation.

Archived Real-Time 911 logs show two calls there on Monday (February 11th), an Automatic Fire Alarm call at 2:56 pm and a 3 Red call at 4:40 pm. There were three on Thursday (February 15th), Automatic Fire Alarm calls at 2:57 pm and 4:39 pm and a 1 Red call at 5:44 pm. Today there were three more – an Automatic Fire Alarm call at 7:04 am, the “full response” at 10:25 am, and an Automatic Fire Alarm at 12:22 pm. Before that, online records show, there hadn’t been an SFD dispatch to 5949 California SW since a fire-alarm call on January 10th.

Two of the calls are linked to police reports classified as “reckless burning” – one on Monday, one on Thursday. The narrative explaining the reasons for that classification isn’t available online; SFD wouldn’t comment on the specifics, referring us to SPD because it’s the “lead agency for the investigation of these incidents.”

A tenant tells WSB that one Monday incident happened because “somebody took a roll of toilet paper, lit it on fire, and threw it into the hallway” and that the same thing happened again Thursday, both times on the same floor. Another incident, the tenant said, was a kitchen fire, while others involved someone “pulling the fire alarm.”

In e-mail to WSB, that resident and another one expressed concerns for their personal safety and security, and concerns that the building’s management/ownership was not doing enough about the situation. We sent an inquiry to an e-mail on the building’s website, and the manager responded that they would forward it to the owners, who e-mailed us this response:

We are writing you in response to an ongoing arson investigation at our building Fauntleroy Lofts. We take this all EXTREMELY serious, as the safety of our tenants has been grossly violated. We are working directly with both the Seattle Fire Dept. Arson Investigation Team and The Seattle Police Dept. to catch the person responsible for setting the fires and false alarms. Although we cannot discuss details of the investigation, we are working to locate and prosecute this criminal to the fullest extent of the law.

As owners, the safety of the both people living in our building and the surrounding community is our highest concern. Perception may be that nothing is being done, but please be assured we are doing everything we physically & legally can to provide our tenants with the safety and security they deserve. Although this may make it appear “nothing is being done”, our biggest priority is following protocol with the Arson investigation team so we can put an end to this so our building is safe again. ANY suspicious activity should be reported IMMEDIATELY to the Arson Investigation Team @ 1-800-55-ARSON or the Seattle Police Dept. Arson/Bomb Unit @ 206-684-8980.

The Owners of Fauntleroy Lofts

According to King County Assessor records, the building has 38 units.

20 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Arson investigation after eight SFD calls in five days at Fauntleroy Lofts"

  • Annoyed tenant February 16, 2018 (11:26 pm)

    We feel as if the property isn’t doing anything because they avoid us during these incidents. They don’t address our concerns to put cameras up and are never available to reach when these incidents happen. As tenants we’ve had to take these matters into our own hands, which isn’t right. Myself and several other tenants have left the property temporarily due to the safety concerns, yet the property is ok with allowing tentants to live there under these conditions with a possible arsonist under the same roof. 

  • Concerned neighbor February 17, 2018 (12:19 am)

    Annoyed tenant 

    I don’t see how the property or SPD/SFD is okay with people living there under the current circumstances! I get you need to make sure you have the details before you act but it seem rather clear. What evidence are they waiting for!?

  • Across the street February 17, 2018 (5:03 am)

    Can’t help but wonder if this person is at all associated with the apartment fire that happened a block away last summer… They never figured out how that one started, other than it started outside, right? Probably not related…

  • J February 17, 2018 (8:45 am)

    Tangent question, is the other apartment around the corner that was set on fire in summer still under investigation? Is that why nothing has been done to fix the burnt exterior of it?

  • Diane February 17, 2018 (2:29 pm)

    why is it ok to hide the identity of the “The Owners of
    Fauntleroy Lofts”? tenants have a legal right to live in a safe building; there does not seem to be any real urgency
    here on behalf of tenants; it is now 15 hours since the anonymous owners’ letter was published; WTH are they actually doing to help the tenants? I’ve lived in an apt building with constant LOUD false fire alarms, as one tenant in Fauntleroy Lofts commented, highly traumatic; in my current apt we had 100’s of LOUD false fire alarms in my early years; half the tenants moved out and finally the owner fixed the damn alarm system; but adding to this, knowing there is an active arsonist in this building??? TV news, our city councilmember, should be actively supporting these tenants NOW; are landlords really so damn unethical that they can hide and “wait” while tenants are still stuck in a dangerous environment? do the owners have to be shamed into action? jeez!!! the tenants should be offered a safe place to live, paid by the owners, until they stop the intentional fires; I am grateful
    to wsblog for alerting our community to this, but dear god, tenants have a legal right to “peace and enjoyment” of their rental unit, and that is being denied; I am in total solidarity with the tenants and appalled that the owners
    are hiding their identity and that there is NOT more urgent action to support these tenants, stop the arsonist, and pay for a safe place for these tenants to live until the damn owner does something to fix this urgent issue; in the earlier wsblog story yesterday with many tenant comments, tenants said the intentional fires are on top floor; if anyone has NOT been in one of these “apodment” style buildings, the only way to get out if this building is on fire is down several flights of stairs in very narrow stairwell; these tenants could be physically
    harmed by the next intentional fire in this building; the tenants are already being emotionally/mentally harmed by the fires and fire alarms; I totally disagree that the owners are “doing everything we physically & legally can to provide our tenants with the safety and security they deserve”; have these
    owners reached out to endangered tenants to provide them with a paid-by-owners
    safe place to live until the arsonist is stopped?  “The Owners of Fauntleroy Lofts”, take care of your of tenants
    NOW; how about “The Owners of Fauntleroy Lofts” move into one of these 200sf
    “apodments” until the arsonist is caught?

    • WSB February 17, 2018 (3:00 pm)

      Nothing “hidden” – this is how the note was signed. Owners of all properties, as you know, are listed in county records.

      This one’s owned by an LLC. Its members can be looked up in the state corporations database.

      • Diane February 17, 2018 (4:32 pm)

        how is it not hidden if tenants and general public do not know who are the owners?  how can tenants contact the owners?  my angry comment is not about you hiding who they are; it’s about the damn owners signing this ridiculous letter anonymously, hiding their own identity; and I have no idea how to look up the owners; I did a google search, came up with nothing; these owners non-action and hiding their own id behind “The Owners of Fauntleroy Lofts”, is unethical and infuriating; thankfully I know who the owners are at my apt building and can contact any time by email and phone; every tenant should be able to do that, especially when their lives are being endangered

  • Diane February 17, 2018 (2:42 pm)

    ps; it’s so frustrating that there’s not enough time to edit comments that get all squirreley (formatting completely messed up) when simply copied from word doc into this comment space; apologies to any readers, I tried to edit out all the crazy way it looked after copy from my basic “word doc” to pasting here, but time ran out

  • carole February 17, 2018 (4:27 pm)

    On top of this, the owners are tax exempt.  Sweet deal.

  • carole February 17, 2018 (5:58 pm)

    From secy of state site, governors of the LLC are:

    Paul LaBellarte

    Lisbeth LaBellarte

    Thach Nguyen

    Camie Ng

    Lisbeth is agent for svc of process at 9827 – 51st AV SW, 98136

    • Diane February 18, 2018 (5:28 pm)

      thank you Carole for the names of the owners

  • 1994 February 17, 2018 (5:59 pm)

    Tax exempt because they provide low income housing? Why are they tax exempt? 

    • WSB February 17, 2018 (9:17 pm)

      I believe the “tax exempt” reference would be regarding Fauntleroy Lofts being part of the MFTE (Multi-Family Tax Exemption) program, as are many newer buildings. Citywide list here:

      MFTE exempts owners from property tax *on the residential units* for a certain period of time. They still have to pay tax on the land and (not applicable here) any commercial part of the property.

      • Swede. February 17, 2018 (11:55 pm)

        Nice loophole. 

        I’m more blown away that a (censured) building like that it $1.2 millions to build! I’m clearly in the wrong business…

    • WSB February 18, 2018 (1:27 pm)

      Much has changed in the ensuing 4-plus years. Jim Potter died in 2014.

      Microhousing was regulated, as noted upthread.

      And wow, look at those rents.

  • Across the street February 20, 2018 (9:28 am)

    Fire alarm is going off again, at the moment…            

    • WSB February 20, 2018 (9:32 am)

      Yup, monitoring the call. They’ve already canceled one of the two dispatched SFD units. … (added) and at 9:35, the other unit has been canceled too.

    • Flimflam February 20, 2018 (10:01 am)

      Sounds like a nightmare for the residents…seems odd that nobody can figure out who is doing this with the fairly small amount of people living there .

      hope they get this person and prosecute aggressively.

  • sam-c February 20, 2018 (9:50 am)

    Has anyone been charged yet?

    Must be such a scary situation for the residents

Sorry, comment time is over.