Development/Gentrification

FAKE IT TILL YOU BAKE IT?

Gjusta, the Fakery at 320 Sunset, moves forward without permits.IMG_8426
By Roxanne Brown – Member of Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset

HEARINGS AND NON-COMPLIANCE

October 2014 – Gjusta, with a Certificate of Occupancy (C of 0) for bakery/takeout with bakery equipment only (no seating, no eating on premises) opened a restaurant with full commercial kitchen, serving beef, fish and fowl.

November 2014 -A hearing for “change of use” from bakery/take out to restaurant with patio and alcohol license took place with Zoning Administrator Maya Zaitzevsky from the LA Department of City Planning. No decision has been made.

December 2014 – Gjusta got an order to comply from the LA Department of Building and Safety, but instead continued to operate out of compliance.

March 2015 and May 2015 – Gjusta had two private hearings before the City Attorney, regarding their non-compliance. Details were not been disclosed to residents.

July 13, 2015 – Gjusta’s owner Fran Camaj and Gjusta’s landlords, Roger and Jean Marie Webster, are due to appear in court at a public hearing on July 13, 2015 at the LAX Courthouse, as a result of their continued refusal to comply.
LAX Courthouse 11701 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045 310-727-6012FullSizeRender4

ALCOHOL OR NO ALCOHOL?

Gjusta withdrew its alcohol application on April 6, 2015. Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) received approximately 100 protest letters from concerned neighbors in June 2014. Since the withdrawal, the operators of Gjusta have been asking their customers to write Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin, saying they want restaurant and alcohol expansion at 320 Sunset. Some of Gjusta’s customers have reported that Gjusta’s owner, Fran Camaj, is telling patrons that Gjusta will soon be serving beer and wine on the rear patio. It seems Gjusta’s strategy may be to withdraw the alcohol license at this time, since there was initially so much opposition. Now, they will most likely reapply – thus the postcard campaign.

GJUSTA PR POSTCARD CAMPAIGN promoting EXPANSION AND ALCOHOL

April 2015 – Gjusta began a postcard campaign, handing out postcards at Gjelina’s/GTA/Gjusta and encouraging customers to fill them out (while waiting for their food) in support of Gjusta’s expansion to outdoor patio restaurant with alcohol license. Gjusta then mails these postcards to Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin. Meanwhile, the “proposed patio” is already built and being used without permit. Why would the City accept these postcards when the hearing was last November and a decision is to be based on what was heard and received prior to and at that
hearing?

WHO’S FILLING OUT THE POSTCARDS?

Do the people filling out these postcards live within 500 feet of Gjusta? Are they “fake” people with “fake” addresses? How do Bonin’s or Garcetti’s offices verify the postcards’ authenticity? Did patrons supply phone numbers? Did patrons supply their age – since they are supporting an alcohol license? Chuy Orozco, Chief Deputy in Bonin’s office, told Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset (CNS) that some of the hundreds of postcards came from “temporary Venetians.”

June 16, 2015 – Laura McClellan, Deputy Chief of Staff in Councilman Bonin’s office then sent CNS an email regarding the postcards, stating, “I want to let you know that any and all personal information will be redacted from these cards, including address, phone number and email.” CNS protest letters (to ABC and City Planning/Zoning) against expansion with alcohol (many pages in length with photos and maps) were seen by Gjusta’s owner, Fran Camaj, including residents’ names, addresses, and phone numbers. Yet, CNS isn’t permitted to view this information on Gjusta’s postcards? Are Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin going to let this postcard campaign justify approving Gjusta’s – expansion to full restaurant (already built and being operated without permit) – with outdoor patio (already built and being used without permit) and – alcohol license – 13 feet from residents’ homes?

TRAFFIC REPORT APPEAL

In May 2015, Gjusta submitted a Traffic Study to the Department of Transport (DOT) claiming that its operation would not significantly increase/impact traffic in the neighborhood. DOT agreed. The previous occupant at 320 Sunset was a postproduction company, consisting of eight employees. The City approved change of use from office to bakery/take out only, no sitting or eating on premises. A restaurant’s means for maximizing profit is to accommodate as many people as possible, constantly turn the tables, and serve alcohol. Studies show that adding alcohol to the mix increases the likelihood of lewd and nuisance behavior and the dangers associated with drunk driving; Concerned neighbors have sent dozens of videos and photos showing Gjusta’s increased traffic, disruptions of traffic due to deliveries, and safety issues posed by Gjusta’s patrons backing their cars out of Gjusta’s “parking lot” onto Sunset Avenue amid pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists and other vehicular traffic. Concerned residents and neighboring businesses believe the T-intersection where Gjusta sits cannot safely withstand the traffic intensification of a high-turnover restaurant and take-out.

Please come to the DOT TRAFFIC APPEAL and speak out against the increased and dangerous traffic issues Gjusta’ s unpermitted operation is imposing on the Venice community.

West LA Planning Commission
Henry Medina West L.A. Parking Enforcement Facility
11214 Exposition Boulevard – 2nd Floor – Roll Call Room
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Wednesday – July 15, 2015 – 4:30 p.m.

COMPLIANCE – Fake it till you bake it. June 4, 2014, was the latest compliance date. Gjusta then took away milk- crate dining from their (unpermitted) “parking lot.”

Gjusta also put stools for people to sit and eat inside (unpermitted) and began allowing people to sit and eat on the outdoor (unpermitted) patio -13 feet from residents’ homes. Gjusta actually escalated their non-compliance on the compliance date.

SUMMARY

Mayor Eric Garcetti and his administration along with Councilman Bonin and his office have allowed Gjusta to remain out of compliance since opening its doors in October 2014, causing a nuisance. Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin, here is the postcard campaign from Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset (CNS) and many other Venetians complaining about non-compliance issues and shenanigans: “Stop allowing Gjusta to ignore the rules and regulations of our City. This benefits special interests at the expense of the Venice community. Deny expansion to restaurant with patio and alcohol license at 320 Sunset Avenue. Residents have the right to peace and quiet enjoyment in their homes.”

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