By Roxanne Brown
Here’s an update on two very similar Venice projects: proposed restaurants at 320 Sunset and Kim’s Market.
Kim’s Market’s new owners Alicia Searle and partner, architect Steve Vitalich, and LUPC Chair Robin Rudisill held an Owner Outreach Meeting at the Oakwood Community Center on July 14, 2014.
They requested use of the community center, because Kim’s Market could not hold the crowd of 50 plus. Yet, the proposal for Kim’s is to have a restaurant, selling on-site and off-site liquor, serving 60+ patrons. This does not include people lining up for take-out, people waiting to be seated, and employees.
The Venice residents who came to this meeting, concluded and clearly stated that they do not think this proposed change of use to a restaurant serves the community. Only one person spoke in support of the restaurant.
Kim’s Market is located at the juncture of Venice, Ocean and Mildred (across from the Venice Library and Farmers’ Market, along with a coastal access route), making this an already congested area with narrow streets and little parking. Kim’s will have some tables seating patrons on the sidewalk (at this busy intersection).
Residents at the meeting stated that there have been several bike accidents at this location. An elderly woman told the group that a truck hit her as she attempted to cross Ocean Avenue to get to Kim’s.
Kim’s owners say they will provide seven parking spaces, though they have none on-site, and want to have valet service, which would further cause back-ups and congestion. Where will their delivery trucks go?
Kim’s Market’s plan sounds similar to 320 Sunset’s plan. It seems that Gjelina’s Owner, Fran Camaj, is backtracking and trying to piece meal a plan together. He applied for and was permitted a bakery. Now Camaj wants to go backwards and change 320 Sunset from its original use (prior to his bakery, it was an office of 6 artists) to a restaurant serving 85 patrons, 30 employees, 30 getting take out, plus people eating on milk crates in the parking lot and people waiting in line to be seated. What happened to the bakery?
Like Kim’s, 320 Sunset is on a narrow street at the juncture of Sunset, 3rd Street, and the alley between Vernon and Sunset (with Gold’s Gym and Google nearby, along with a coastal access route).
320 Sunset’s parking lot will be receiving deliveries and have patrons eating on milk crates with a daytime attendant and a few cars parked there. Cars and people eating on crates – doesn’t sound healthy, safe, neighborhood-friendly or legal.
Camaj has applied for an on and off-site liquor license for 320 Sunset. Why does a bakery need a liquor license? Can a liquor license be issued to a bakery?
There is evidence that Camaj’s Gjelina’s restaurant on Abbott Kinney has not been a good neighbor (see the July Beachhead along with other media coverage, code violations, seating over capacity, noise complaints, improprieties with parking). Why would the city allow this restaurant at 320 Sunset, knowing the owner’s track record and that he will most likely bring this same set of problems to another neighborhood?
There are so many similarities in these two projects, which will negatively impact Venice. Here are 8 major community concerns:
1 Abutting residents’ homes (12-13 feet in 320’s case – less than that at Kim’s) with adverse impact on the community’s quality of life.
2 Zoning: 320 Sunset is zoned M1-1 (light manufacturing). M1-1 is where our endangered species – Venice artists – work. There is a shortage of M1-1 zoning for our artists. Kim’s is zoned commercial. A commercial appraiser at the outreach meeting was adamant that Kim’s location is completely inappropriate for a restaurant.
3 Restaurants (providing little to no parking) increase pedestrian and vehicular traffic, further reducing parking and increasing traffic in these already congested areas – 3 streets converging, narrow streets.
4 Hinder coastal access.
5 Liquor licenses (on-site and off-site sales) increase patronage. Liquor tends to increase patrons’ speaking volume and bad behavior, and impairs driving/walking/biking abilities. 320 and Kim’s have outdoor patios, where this loud volume will echo throughout the residential neighborhoods.
6 Late night hours: 320 Sunset hours: 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. – with prep and clean up before and after, and baking operations – that’s pretty much 24/7. Kim’s hours: 7 a.m. – 12 a.m. Outdoor patio: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday –Thursday, and 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with prep and cleanup before and after.
7 Drought: Water usage – Restaurant: Versus bakery? Versus market?
8 Little to no Venice Community Support.
In both cases, it seems the same strategy was used – a type of clandestine bait and switch: neighbors were led to believe one thing – a market, a bakery – when it seems that all along restaurants with on-site and off-site liquor licenses were the actual goals.
Neighbors are OK with a market at Kim’s location and a bakery at 320 Sunset. A market and bakery serve the needs of the community. Neighbors oppose both proposals for restaurants (with on and off-site liquor licenses, and late night hours) at these preposterous locations.
It’s not only the developers who have the community up in arms, City Hall and the regulatory agencies are being complicit. The owners can’t do anything unless the city and its regulatory agencies allow it. In our view, they’re not fulfilling their obligations to the residents, not monitoring Venice, not doing their job.
Where’s the Coastal Commission? Where’s the Zoning Administrator? Where’s Building and Safety? Where’s Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC)? Where’s Councilman Mike Bonin? Where’s Mayor Eric Garcetti?
It’s time to push the pause button! It’s time to do the right thing!
A neighborhood organization is the easiest and most effective way to have your voice heard. Each voice gets louder and bigger in the context of a group. If you wish to be heard regarding these two projects, join Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset (CNS); please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Roxanne Brown