By Roxanne Brown
The Beachhead has been updating readers since April 2013 on some of the absurd developments that Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration and Councilman Mike Bonin’s office seem to be approving and pushing through at the objection of residents.
600 Mildred (Kim’s Market): Proposed change of use from market to restaurant with alcohol and late night hours, three feet from residents’ homes with no on-site parking near coastal access route and intersection of Mildred, Ocean, and Venice. On pause.
320 Sunset (Gjelina’s Gjusta):
Zoning Administration (ZA) hearing was November 13. No decision was made as of end of January. In my view, it’s because Garcetti’s administration and Bonin’s office are trying to push this project on resistant residents.
Hundreds of residents oppose the proposed change of use from “bakery” to restaurant with alcohol and late night hours, 12 feet 6 inches from residents’ homes, providing limited parking, at a location where several streets and parking lots intersect.
A car accident at Gjusta occurred on January 9, Friday, at approximately 1 p.m. A woman driving a Mercedes sports car convertible was entering Gjusta’s lot. She thought the parking attendant was telling her to back up, so she backed up without looking and hit a parking enforcement vehicle. A police report was filed.
Residents brought this safety concern up at the ZA Hearing. The parking lot at Gjusta is dangerous. Drivers back out of the lot into oncoming traffic. This accident occurred in broad daylight under the influence of coffee. What might occur when drivers back out into traffic in the dark of night under the influence of alcohol?
259 Hampton (Sauce) APPEAL HEARING – RESIDENTS WIN
Sauce at 259 Hampton has a permit for retail/take out, but has been operating as a sit down restaurant (with tables inside and outside on the sidewalk) for five years.
Without going through Venice’s Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) or the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC), the city approved “change of use” to restaurant with rooftop deck and liquor license. This was approved even though 259 Hampton is a mere fifteen feet from residents’ homes on a block with churches, synagogue, pre-school, and St. Joseph’s Center with religious services and day care. 259 Hampton would provide no parking, not even one handicapped space.
Ilana Marosi, appellant, Robin Rudisill, LUPC Chair, and I sat in the front row at the appeal hearing. Fran Camaj (owner of Gjelina, GTA, Gjusta and 1301 and 1305 Abbot Kinney) sat behind us with Stephen Vitalich (architect for 259 Hampton, 600 Mildred and 320 Sunset) and Sam Marshall (architect for 259 Hampton).
Chris Robertson, Director of Land Use and Planning in Bonin’s office, came into the hearing room prior to the hearing and asked Marosi to meet privately with the architects, Kevin Jones from City Planning, and Theodore Irving from Zoning.
It seemed that Robertson, city planning, zoning, and 259 Hampton’s architects were trying to coerce Marosi into not going forward with the hearing. The reason being they had two sets of plans and it was confusing. This “confusion” occurred with 320 Sunset and Gjelina’s Gjusta as well.
Two unidentified people (a man and a woman) were hovering on the edges of the meeting. The man came toward Marosi – who was openly recording the meeting – she asked his name, he refused to give it, and as she moved away from him, he pushed Marosi. We later learned he was the owner of 259 Hampton, Richard Gottlieb. Fortunately the entire conversation and the alleged assault were videotaped. A police report was filed.
Garcetti’s City Planning and Zoning employees began the hearing by confirming their approval of the project and urging that the hearing be delayed two weeks.
President of the Area Planning Commission (APC) Thomas Donovan noted that residents had waited more than three hours, and would be heard.
Commissioner Lisa Waltz Morocco began by stating the fact that 259 Hampton’s tract has almost four times the allowed alcohol licenses and four times the crime of the citywide average. She also had a copy (evidence provided by Marosi) of the LAPD’s letter stating that the LAPD did not want any more liquor licenses in the area. She asked, “How could the city approve this?”
Irving replied, “It’s a tourist attraction…we still stand by that approval.” Does that mean the city wants to add to the crime rate (which liquor licenses do) for residents and send tourists there?
Commissioner Esther Margulies asked, “How can you call for noise mitigation and then say it’s only required if it’s feasible?” The city’s response was convoluted.
Commission President Donovan asked why the Conditional Use Permit – Beverage (CUB) for alcohol license was for five years as opposed to the normal two years. Irving answered, “We don’t want to be punitive at this stage.” Do Bonin and Garcetti think it’s OK for residents to endure a nuisance for five years before anything can be done?
Vitalich was then able to present and urged that, “Appeal should be denied as the planning department recommended.” Marshall said, “The planning department, zoning department and council’s office took us outside, told us that this would be continued. As a result the applicant has left along with a lot of people that were going to be here. We just want this on the record. We were told [by Garcetti’s planning and zoning people and Bonin’s office] this was not going to be happening this evening.”
No worries: the hearing is on the city’s audio recording and residents’ videotapes contain the attempted coercion, alleged assault, and the hearing itself.
During the hearing, I pointed out an alarming discrepancy. On the CUB application, when asked whether 259 Hampton was within 1,000 feet of churches, schools, synagogues, someone had answered “No.” Garcetti’s administration and Bonin’s office approved the project despite the fact that maps show a synagogue and churches are on the same block as 259 Hampton.
Lori Geller, who owns a fourplex directly across the street from 259 Hampton said, “This is insane.”
The commissioners appeared appalled throughout the hearing. They unanimously voted for the appeal and denial of the project.
NOT ONLY DOES IT APPEAR MAYOR GARCETTI’S ADMINISTRATION AND COUNCILMAN BONIN’S OFFICE FAVOR SPECIAL INTERESTS, IT CERTAINLY SEEMS THEY ARE GREASING THE WHEELS FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS.
Some people in the Garcetti administration and in Councilman Bonin’s office apparently have forgotten that they work for tax paying citizens. Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin seem to have forgotten this as well.
A representative from Mike Bonin’s office contacted the Beachhead and asked that we print a retraction to Roxanne Brown’s January article. We were asked to mention that Bonin is against the development at Gjusta. Although Bonin did take a stand against the patio at Gjusta, the more important issue that he needs to stand against is the alcohol license that the establishment is seeking. Even the LAPD recommended that Gjusta not be given the alcohol license. As our elected representative, we expect Bonin to take more action against all developments operating illegally in Venice.
By Roxanne Brown