Your ‘dead zone’ is our peace and quiet

Re: “Gjusta opposition grows,” news, Nov. 20

More residents are joining the cause to oppose a change of use to “restaurant with liquor license” for Gjusta, the so-called bakery at 320 Sunset Ave. that Gjelina restaurant owner Fran Camaj opened last month.

Camaj’s claim to be a friend of the Venice community is dubious. As reported by The Argonaut: “Camaj said he hoped positive nighttime activity at the restaurant would inject life into
a longstanding ‘dead zone’ with few retail options and a large homeless presence.” That so-called “dead zone” is, in fact, Venice’s racially diverse Oakwood area — a quiet residential and artistic community.

Camaj seems to forget that the 300 block of Sunset is one block from Rose Avenue, two blocks from Main Street, three short blocks away from the world-famous Venice Beach boardwalk, and four blocks from Abbot Kinney — streets filled with a plethora of restaurants and retailers.

“Since we’ve opened I’ve seen babies in strollers on the 200 block of Sunset for the first time ever,” Camaj said. Really? Families with babies live just a few doors from Gjusta. The bedroom windows of some families with children are 13 feet from the back patio Camaj is proposing. Strollers have been seen on this part of Sunset for years because scores of children live in the area surrounding Gjusta, where the majority of buildings are residential.

Apparently, Camaj believes changing his bakery (called “the fakery” by locals who oppose it) into a restaurant serving liquor on an outdoor patio open until 1 a.m. seven days a week would lead to “positive activity.”

What Camaj’s plan will really do is undermine Oakwood residents’ quality of life by adding noise, traffic, parking congestion, pollution and late-night rowdiness to a tranquil neighborhood. What Camaj cynically calls a “dead zone,” residents call peace and quiet.

As reported, LAPD Pacific Division Capt. Brian Johnson, Pacific Division Vice Unit Sergeant Robin Richards and Sarah Blanch of the Westside Impact Project oppose Gjusta’s securing a liquor license in an area already dense and oversaturated with them.

In the Nov. 6 edition of The Argonaut, Camaj told reporter Gary Walker that his Gjelina restaurant has not drawn unwanted attention from law enforcement.

Residents surrounding Gjusta are demanding that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Councilman Mike Bonin and the city’s Building and Safety Department give him some at Gjusta. Gjusta is already causing a nuisance. Neighbors complain of being disturbed by noise from patrons eating on premises, smoke and cooking smells, traffic congestion and parking problems.

At the Nov. 13 zoning hearing, Building and Safety staff saw and heard evidence of these transgressions but they refuse to act. Bonin and Garcetti have apparently not given them notice to take action. The day after the hearing, Gjusta was doing business as usual. What side are our city leaders on?

Roxanne Brown
Venice

Attacks on Gjusta misplace priorities

Re: “Gjusta opposition grows,” news, Nov. 20

I just read the piece by Gary Walker about community opposition to the new Gjusta bakery plan.

Am I missing something? A successful business wishes to do something positive in an area that is currently a scary place and some neighbors get uptight about it.

Why isn’t anyone up in arms about the dozens of homeless men and women living on 3rd Street right in front of the new bakery? It’s ghetto and certainly a more important topic to explore for the community’s sake. Where are our priorities?

As to Zack Galifianakis’ point about Gjelina not caring about the neighborhood, I understand that there is a Gjelina Volunteer Program that works to help local grade-school kids through volunteer teaching and tutoring. How many other businesses are doing that?

As to the chiropractor’s complaint about parking — welcome to L.A.! Show me where parking isn’t a problem on the Westside.

Let’s help our brothers and sisters living on the street before we squabble over whether an outdoor patio spells doom for our community.

F. Bundy
Venice

Have ‘a nonviolent Thanksgiving’

This week, President Obama will pardon two turkeys to promote the turkey industry. Every one of us can exercise that same pardon power by choosing a nonviolent Thanksgiving observance. It’s a most fitting way to give thanks for our own life, health and happiness.

The 240 million turkeys killed in the U.S. this year have nothing to give thanks for. They are raised in crowded sheds filled with toxic fumes and barbarically slaughtered.

This Thanksgiving, I won’t be calling the government’s Poultry Hotline, wondering how that turkey lived and died, or dozing through the football game. Our dinner: Tofurky (a soy-based roast), mashed potatoes, stuffed squash, chestnut soup, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and carrot cake.

Steve Prosky
Marina del Rey

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