By Roxanne Brown, Member – Stop 600 Mildred & Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset
VENICE NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL (VNC) MEETING – SEPTEMBER 16, 2014
KIM’S MARKET – VNC reviewed proposed conversion of Kim’s Market to restaurant with liquor license.
CROWD: Standing room only –mostly opposition.
CAR JUMPS CURB: Alicia Searle (new owner of Kim’s Market) told the audience and VNC that the ex-husband of someone who is against her restaurant had driven up on the sidewalk allegedly trying to “kill” her husband. The group was shocked.
Searle has hired a detective and the police are investigating.
COMMENTS on CONVERSION: Individuals who spoke for the proposed restaurant were: the prior owner who sold the property to Searle, a gentlemen whose proposed project near Kim’s has been denied three times, and a woman who lives on Palms, who knows the owners and their Santa Fe restaurant. Neighbors whom Searle and husband had reached out to appeared to be for the restaurant due to a concern of what might go up if the restaurant didn’t get approved.
Individuals who spoke in opposition included the mother of a 2 and 13 year old who lives 3 feet from the restaurant. Others said Searle and her husband seem like nice people; it’s just the wrong location. Robin Murez reminded people that the Silver Triangle (Kim’s location) is often called the Bermuda Triangle, as once cars get on Ocean; they are trapped between congested Venice and congested Washington and the Venice Canals.
VNC COMMENTS AND DECISION: Ira Koslow led the discussion saying that running out of room on Rose and Abbott Kinney, restaurants now want to go into residential areas and it’s not OK. Nice idea for a restaurant – wrong location.
Almost all VNC members agreed. George Francisco abstained. Melissa Diner said Searle didn’t cause the traffic and voted for the project. VNC denied the project.
THE FAKERY – 320 SUNSET (Gjelina’s 3rd location) – Proposed conversion from office of 6 architects to restaurant with liquor license, seating 87, open from 6 a.m. to 12a.m. (through the week) – 1 a.m. weekends.
DECISION: Both VNC and LUPC denied conversion.
PERMIT & FAKERY: Camaj told residents/neighbors he wanted to build a bakery, applied for and was given a permit for “change of use from office to bakery and retail including new bathrooms, storage walls, and the installation of bakery equipment.”
Prior to that, Camaj had signed a lease for bakery and café. Thus, it appears the bakery was a fakery. With permit to build a bakery, it appears Camaj has built a restaurant and installed restaurant kitchen equipment.
EVICTION: Artists on the 300 block of Sunset have now been getting eviction notices. Landlords are telling tenants they want to develop their property.
NOTICE OF INTENT (NOI): For the first time, mid-September, a NOI to build a restaurant is in the window at 320 Sunset. It reads, “Change of use of the existing 5008 sf commercial bakery/kitchen/retail building to a commercial bakery/kitchen/retail/restaurant with….”
DESCREPANCY: Camaj has a Certificate of Occupancy (CoO) for a bakery/retail, no seating, with bakery equipment. Where did the kitchen come from? Why do neighbors smell non-baked goods being cooked?
Lawsuits filed and press confirms that Camaj appears to be doing what he pleases without regard for permits/codes at his Gjelina’s location on Abbott Kinney. It seems Camaj is replicating this behavior at 320 Sunset, his third proposed restaurant location in Venice.
As always, the windows at 320 Sunset are covered with brown paper. Neighbors who live behind 320 tell CNS they are watching a wall being constructed for an outdoor patio to seat patrons, and already hear music coming from this area.
Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) – Given the many protest letters from residents, Camaj will now have to call for a hearing if he wishes to continue the liquor license application process. CNS will keep you informed and publicize that date should Camaj request a hearing.
ZONING: On September 4, 2014, Zoning announced that they have put their decision on hold and a new public hearing will be required after receipt of the following:
-Revised Master Land Use Application and Findings
-Photographic proof of the posting of a Notice of Intent (NOI) with updated project description
-A Department of Transportation Referral Form analyzing the traffic and access for the proposed project (change of use from commercial bakery/retail to restaurant/bakery/retail)
-If the project results in any potential significant traffic or access impacts the MND must be re-circulated for 30-days
-BTC receipt for the mailing of the new hearing notice
-Updated radius map and labels
NUISANCE: For seven years, Camaj’s Gjelina’s restaurant at 1429 Abbott Kinney has been documented as a nuisance, disturbing neighbors with noise, traffic, seating more than capacity, building dining facilities without permits, parking shenanigans and more. In seven years, the city has not fined or penalized Camaj. The City continues to renew the operating license, and the nuisance continues. Neighbors have been complaining for seven years and are still complaining.
CITY LEADERSHIP: Knowing this, how does the city say: Yes, go build two more restaurants – it’s OK to build without permits, seat over code, play parking shenanigans, and be a nuisance – you can do this in more neighborhoods with no penalty?
HOW DO ONE OR TWO OWNERS HIJACK AN ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD OF TAX PAYING CITIZENS?
THESE RESTAURANTS ARE CASH COWS FOR THE OWNERS AT THE NEIGHBORHOODS’ AND RESIDENTS’ EXPENSE.
Should 320 Sunset’s and 600 Mildred’s restaurant go through, a giant green “GO” light will be flashed, setting a precedent. This will have a disastrous domino effect, destroying residential neighborhoods – one block at a time – throughout Los Angeles.
STOP THE FAKERY: CAMAJ HAS A CoO FOR A BAKERY/RETAIL WITH BAKERY EQUIPMENT AND NO-SEATING. COUNCILMAN BONIN, MAYOR GARCETTI, ZONING, BUILDING AND SAFETY, ABC, please do the right thing for residents. Let it go no further. We pay you to enforce restrictions/code/permits. Please do your job.