Development/Gentrification

Letter

320 SUNSET UPDATE – IT’S YOUR VENICE – HAVE YOUR SAY

By Roxanne Brown – member: Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset (CNS)

Rose Avenue continues to produce more and more upscale restaurants with liquor licenses and late-night hours. And now, it looks like Sunset could become the next Rose. Here’s a quick update on Rose and Sunset, and how to get your voice heard.

THE ROSE CAFÉ: Gift shop is closing to make room for a late-night wine bar.

FIESTA BRAVA at 5th and Rose: Proposed upscale restaurant serving alcohol with late-night hours

THE MARKET at 5th and Rose: See Fiesta Brava above – it will be part of this new development.

609 ROSE: Another upscale restaurant with alcohol and late hours is in the works here.

320 SUNSET: This is our current big fight. We learned in the April Beachhead that owner Fran Camaj, Gjelina’s owner (1427 Abbott Kinney), had proposed development of a bakery with accessory retail at 320 Sunset. And, we learned that he and former Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) 320 Sunset case manager, Jim Murez, had failed to mention the proposed off-site beer and wine sales.

Camaj appears to be doing a bait and switch. Now, instead of a bakery, he is proposing a restaurant with 30 employees, serving 20 inside and 65 on an outdoor patio, 12 – 20 feet from residential dwellings. Construction on the “bakery” isn’t complete – it hasn’t opened and Camaj wants to convert it to a restaurant? Was a bakery ever even on the radar?

LUPC April 16th: Many neighbors spoke out against this. One resident had taken pictures revealing that rather than a bakery; it appeared that a full-blown restaurant had been built.

April 26th: Camaj hosted a tour and outreach meeting, sharing with the 60 neighbors gathered that when he applied for 320 Sunset’s conversion to a bakery, it presented less than 10% increase in usage (this falls within the constraints of a maximum 10% increase in intensity per the Venice Specific Plan). Camaj told the community that the prior tenants at 320 Sunset were six architects. A restaurant with 115 people is nearly 20 times that usage – a 2,000% increase in usage.

How can this happen? It seems this kind of “case splitting” is a loophole in the system, which allows developers to apply for one thing and then slip through a very different thing – all allegedly legal – through the city.

Camaj said patrons would be allowed to eat in 320’s parking lot, seated on milk crates. 320 Sunset has a parking lot that could maybe hold 15 vehicles. But, if people are eating on crates there, is it still a parking lot? Where is the real parking? Where will deliveries be made?

With proposed opening hours from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. (19 hours), noise and traffic will likely be 24/7.

Camaj repeatedly insists (LUPC and April 26th) that he has a seven-year track record as a good neighbor at Gjelina’s. But, the LA Times, Grub Street, Eater LA, the Beachhead and other media have reported on Gjelina’s seating over capacity city code violation and interfering with street parking regulations on Abbott Kinney. Media has also reported on neighbors continually complaining about loud music from the patio being heard in their residences, congestion and noise from pedestrians and vehicles, and lack of residential parking.

Camaj has a permit for a bakery at 320 Sunset. He proposes to obtain a variance for the zoning of 320 Sunset from light manufacturing (M1-1) to commercial. The 300 block of Sunset is currently home to a large, quiet artist community, as well as to senior citizens, families and young couples with children.

Traditionally, restaurants have been on commercial streets like Rose, Main, Abbott Kinney, and Lincoln, not in residential areas. If 320 Sunset gets a commercial variance, what’s next? Other buildings in M1-1 zoning and residential streets in Venice will become vulnerable to similar zoning variances.

No wonder many Venetians believe our community’s unique quality of life is under attack by developers and look-the-other-way political representatives. If there is going to be change, we want what is right for Venice. If you agree, now is the time to be heard.

HAVE YOUR SAY: The easiest way to be heard is to join a community organization. They inform you of what is going on via email or Facebook. You can get information regarding 320 Sunset from: CONCERNED NEIGHBORHOODS of 320 SUNSET (CNS) by emailing us at concernedneighborvenice@gmail.com. And/or go to Facebook – SPIRIT VENICE
More community organizations on Facebook: Venice Community Unity Coalition and Stakeholders of Venice.

Learn what The Venice Coalition to Preserve Unique Community Character (VCPUCC) is doing (see June Beachhead).

Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC)- Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC): LUPC reviews proposed developments and gets residents input. VNC represents Venice’s voice to the city of Los Angeles. The Venicenc.org website posts their agenda. 320 Sunset may be on July’s agenda.

Go to that meeting and sign up to speak. LUPC meets at the Oakwood Community Center on the first and third Wednesday evenings every month at 6:45 – corner of 7th and California. VNC meets once a month on a Tuesday at Westminster Elementary School at 6:45 – corner Westminster and Abbott Kinney. Your presence makes a difference-no need to talk. There is power in numbers and unity.

TELL CITY HALL: All of these developments, liquor licenses, improprieties, code violations, zoning variances, change of use – way over 10%, case splitting, late hours, and inadequate parking are happening on City Council Member Bonin’s watch. He wants to hear from you. Write him at Council Member Bonin, City Hall Office, 200 N. Spring St. #475, Los Angeles, CA 90012 or email councilmember.bonin@lacity.org Keep a copy – give it to your organization.

Now, you know there is something simple and easy you can do. Join an organization that will represent your views, your voice. You can be heard. Every voice counts.

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