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Abbot Kinney Parking Blues Get Worse

Bar Gets Preliminary Approval to Expand Sales with Zero On-site Parking

August 13, 2009. Venice--While shrinking parking access is a key complaint of many Venice residents, Craig Weiss, the owner of theotheroom, earned preliminary approval from a neighborhood committee last night to expand his Abbot Kinney business though it will provide no parking at its location.

His proposed cafe, which is sited adjacent to theotheroom, will operate from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily. Weiss sought community approval for a Conditional Use Beverage request allowing him to sell beer and wine for both on and off site consumption.

According to members of the neighborhood council's Land Use and Planning Committee, Weiss said he will provide required parking behind the GlenCrestBBQ, which lies approximately half a block away and on the other side of the street.

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Land Use Committee members insisted they voted to support Weiss because they had no other choice--that whether Weiss' spots were "phantom" or not--he complied with rules that govern zoning and planning in the area.

Of the five committee members who attended last night's meeting, Challis Macpherson, Jim Murez, John Reed, Kelly Li and Susan Papadakis only Papadakis was a hold out, voting to abstain. Several committee members listed on the organization's website simply did not attend: Robert Aronson, Jed Pauker, Matthew Geller, Kristin McArdle.

The committee's recommendation will be taken up by the Venice Neighborhood Council as a whole before it is forwarded to the city. Neighborhood council recommendations are considered by the city to be the official voice of communities in the planning process, but it ultimately rests with the city to make decisions.

While parking is a hot issue in Venice and the neighborhood council has often refused to provide residents who are building homes/additions or developers with exceptions to onsite parking rules--some Abbot Kinney businesses have simply seized parking spots illegally or changed what their property is to be used for, often putting severe parking pressure on surrounding neighbors.

In such cases, the neighborhood council has often done nothing to protect surrounding residents.

theotheroom has angered residents who live in the neighborhood only a few feet behind it because the busy bar provides no onsite parking, either. Though Weiss claims to have access to a parking lot across the street for customers, that lot has no signage identifying it as such for bar patrons.

According to Jim Murez, who voted to approve Weiss' new endeavor, Murez has never seen an otheroom valet utilize that lot. Neither have many residents living within the area. Instead bar patrons and/or valets park in the neighborhood streets surrounding the area, often returning to their cars well into the early hours of the morning.

The GlenCrestBBQ parking lot, which Weiss says will be use for cafe patrons, lies further away and what limited parking facilities it has are hidden from the street.

For example, rather than only operating as live-work/artists-and-residence space, 1311 Abbot Kinney frequently operates as a film/television production studio bringing many over-sized production vehicles to the area, often for days at a time. Two summers ago, a space a few doors away operated as a car show room and event center. It appropriated a public parking area behind it, fencing it in at the height of the busy summer season.

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