Opposition to a new sports bar and restaurant proposed for Playa del Rey and a request for a moratorium on Marina del Rey construction were issues heard by the Westchester/Playa Neighborhood Council Planning and Land Use Committee at its meeting Monday, March 16th.
The Playa Group, LLC and Sal Aurora presented information on the proposed opening of the sports bar/restaurant, Happy Ending Bar and Restaurant, at the site of the former La Marina Restaurant/The Del on Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey.
Aurora and his partner already own a sports bar of the same name in Hollywood. He said the establishment is involved in charity events in Hollywood, the crew cleans up around the area after closing, and also has a security team on patrol.
The sports bar and restaurant would offer lunch, dinner and happy hour, and Aurora said he planned to hire local residents to fill positions.
The existing liquor license would be taken over, and Aurora said the applicant wants to be an asset to the Playa del Rey community.
Several public speakers said the restaurant name has a certain ìsexualî connotation, and one speaker said he couldnít believe that Aurora and his partner were unaware of that.
Aurora said he and his partner had named the establishment in Hollywood ìHappy Endingî to reflect people coming to Hollywood to achieve their dreams.
Another speaker said that some menu drink items also referenced terminology deemed to be overtly sexual in nature.
Steve Donell, chair of the committee, said heíd had lunch that day at the Hollywood restaurant and was pleasantly surprised that it was a typical sports bar with pool tables and flat screen TVs, was immaculate and had a very good lunch menu.
ìI half expected to see a pole in the center of the floor for strippers after I heard all of the public comments,î said Donell.
The fact that the restaurant in Playa del Rey is adjacent to a residential area was of concern to some. The need to have a security team was also seen as a concern by some members of the public.
Questions about the type of patrons Aurora is trying to attract and the attire of the waitresses were also an issue. Aurora said he expects to see people with families frequenting the restaurant as any other restaurant, but that after 10 p.m. the crowd would be adults, adding that parents likely wouldnít be bringing their children to an establishment at that time of night anyway.
Aurora said he would like to remain open until 2 a.m., and one speaker said another local restaurant and bar is only allowed to stay open until 10 p.m., citing concern over the late hours.
Gwen Vuchsas, a former member of the Neighborhood Council, told the audience that the mothers who walk their children in strollers near the restaurant and are expressing concern should be even more concerned about a medical marijuana facility on Culver Boulevard that was recently raided by federal authorities.
Although the authorities closed the facility down, and the fire department has deemed it a potential hazard, there still seems to be continued activity at the site, said Vuchsas.
Donell said there would be future discussions about the restaurant and the subject could be referred to the full Neighborhood Council if necessary.
MARINA DEL REY DEVELOPMENT ó
Two presentations regarding development in Marina del Rey were given ó the first by members of an organization opposed to Marina del Rey development without a ìcomprehensive Local Coastal Program (LCP) update or California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliant environmental impact report (EIR)î for Marina del Rey; and the second by Santos Kreimann, director of Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, and Gina Natoli, the supervising regional planner for the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning.
David Barish and Nancy Vernon Marino of We ARE Marina del Rey ó a project of the International Humanities Center, a nonprofit organization ó requested that the Neighborhood Council adopt a resolution requesting that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors require a comprehensive LCP update or CEQA-compliant EIR for development in Marina del Rey similar to a motion by the Venice Neighborhood Council.
Barish and Marino allege that the massive redevelopment in Marina del Rey is piece-mealing projects and may not be in compliance with the LCP for the Marina.
They claim that removal of five public parking lots slated for redevelopment is not allowed under the LCP and they are calling for a comprehensive look at planning.
The Venice Neighborhood Council information had stated figures for county projects: 3,904 new residential units; 636 new hotel rooms in three new hotels and one expansion; 1,369 additional restaurant seats; 135,162 square feet of additional retail/commercial space; and 48,173 square feet of additional office space.
Barish said former traffic studies had a faulty methodology and were out of date.
Marino said the harbor was intended for small craft recreational use, and that surrounding communities were forced to bear the burden of not only traffic, but for services such as schools and churches.
Protecting the adjacent Ballona Wetlands, currently being studied for a planned restoration, is also a major area that would be affected by continued Marina development, Barish said.
Marino said they are not anti-development, they just want to look at environmental and social impacts.
One Neighborhood Council committee member said he remembered attending public meetings where community members gave their input on Marina development, and said he felt there was sufficient transparency and public participation by the community.
Barish followed up on further questions by the committee in written form to Donell on March 20th.
Kreimann said he was disappointed that there is so much misinformation and that the Venice Neighborhood Council hadnít contacted him to address the council before its vote.
He said that the Marina LCP was certified in 1996, which is fairly recent, unlike the Westchester-Playa del Rey certification in 1974 that was only refined in 2004.
Kreimann said that the majority of leases will be due in 2020 and the county has options to either negotiate with the lessees or to take over the parcel and manage it.
He said the countyís Asset Management Strategy is a way to get investment in the community and get lessees interested in Marina del Rey properties.
He said most developments are hotels, some apartment complex development from the 1960s, and there are now more institutional investors interested in business.
ìMarina del Rey is a dying asset, and I have the responsibility to revive it. It is owned by 13 million residents of Los Angeles County and generates revenue for healthcare, childrenís programs and more,î said Kreimann. ìEvery project has a rigorous environmental process and gets public comment.î
Regarding public parking lots, Kreimann said that except for the Fourth of July and the Christmas Boat Parade, the parking lots are greatly underutilized by the public.
ìWhy not build there and move public parking closer to areas that require it?î he asked.
Developers in Marina del Rey are required to replace parking as part of their lease. Lessees are also required to pay a regular traffic mitigation fee, unlike developments in the City of Los Angeles, he said.
Kreimann asked, if there is a moratorium on Marina del Rey projects, should the City of Los Angeles, on projects ó such as the mixed-use project at Manchester Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard which had no full EIR, have a mitigated negative declaration; or a proposed 31-story, 336-foot building further down on Lincoln Boulevard.
In Natoliís presentation, she stated that the numbers on projects given by the Venice Neighborhood Council were misleading.
Of the 3,904 residential units, they were not all new. This is the number after redevelopment and only 1,507 were new units, with some already existing.
Regarding restaurant seating of 1,300 plus, the restaurant load occupancy is determined by the Department of Public Works and Building and Safety.
Retail and commercial use are not separated out completely, referring to the amount of 183,300 square feet, and approximately 143,000 square feet include retail, commercial and office use, said Natoli.
Only six projects require an LCP amendment, she said.
Kreimann urged the Neighborhood Council committee members to not adopt a similar resolution regarding Marina development because it was not fact-based.
Donell said no vote would be taken at the meeting, but the subject could be moved forward to the full Neighborhood Council for review.
The Marina LCP can be viewed on the countyís Web site at http://beaches.co.la.ca.us/bandh/DeptInfo//Planning.htm/, or www.wearemdr.com/.