The Real Deal Los Angeles

Lincoln Heights neighbors not happy with Soylent CEO’s illegal shipping container

Now city officials are pursuing criminal charges if it's not removed

July 22, 2016 02:00PM

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Chew on this one.

Robert Rhinehart, founder the company Soylent that makes meals in liquid form, is in trouble with the City of Los Angeles — not for his questionable but trendy food-in-a-bottle product, but for a shipping container he placed on the top of a Lincoln Heights hill known as Flat Top.

Last December, he bought the parcel of land for $21,300 at an auction, Curbed reported. At some point between then and now, Rhinehart transported a bright red shipping container to the spot, and it has since drawn much ire from the surrounding residents.

While Rhinehart describes it as an “experiment in sustainable living,” city officials say it’s an unpermitted vacant building open to the public. Rhinehart refused the city’s order to remove the container, and now the department of building has asked the city attorney’s office to pursue criminal charges.

Neighbors have filed multiple complaints the container, Freddy Ceja, the communications director for City Councilman Gil Cedillo, told Curbed. Some neighbors were most recently upset about a July Fourth pig roast party Rhinehart threw on the property, which was trashed afterward.

“I feel like I’m living in the movie ‘Brazil,’” Rhinehart told Curbed, frustrated by the city’s permitting requirements. He added that he has recently decided to relocate the container, but may also buy more parcels of land on Flat Top to save it from being developed. [Curbed] — Cathaleen Chen