Meeting Date: 11/09/10 06:00 PM

Meeting Type: Regular

Location: Will and Ariel Durant Library


1. Discussion of new land use permit application by Aroma Cafe located at 7373 Sunset Blvd.  Currently open from 7am-4am everyday, they already have a license for on site sale and consumption of beer, wine and alcohol (full line of liquor) between the hours of 10am-midnight. They are applying to extend their hours of alcohol sale and consumption to 10am-2am daily and are also applying to be able to offer a "happy hour" from 4pm-7pm daily. A company representative will be present. Possible motion and vote.

2. Discussion of a conditional use permit application (liquor license) by the former Econo Lodge at 7370-7372 Sunset Blvd.  The application is for a license to serve beer, wine and alcohol (full line of liquor) for on site sale and consumption from 6am-2am daily within the existing 17,010 sq ft two story hotel.  This includes a first floor bar/lounge having a total of 27 seats and a second floor open deck having a portable bar and a total of 52 seats.  They are also requesting a license for in-room alcohol access cabinets ("mini-bars") in conjunction with the 39 hotel rooms. A company representative will be present. Possible motion and vote.

3. Discussion of a conditional use permit application (liquor license) by Sunset Grill at 7439 Sunset Blvd. Currently open from 9am-10pm daily, they have a license for on site sale and consumption of beer and wine.  They are applying to serve alcohol (full line of liquor) and extend the sale and consumption hours to 9am-2am daily. A company representative will be present. Possible motion and vote.

4. Introduction of Senior Lead Officers (SLO) Ralph Sanchez and Irv Isabella.  As officers dedicated to our geographic area, our SLOs act as liaisons between the community and the LAPD.  Community members will have a chance to meet and talk with the SLOs about issues specific to our area.

5. Various Area 7 issues.

Adjournment 8pm (or earlier)


 Meeting Minutes for Area 7 meeting 11/9/10

Rebecca Arce (RA) called meeting to order at 7:00.  There were 20 people in attendance.

RA reads first agenda item a permit application by Aroma Café and Bakery to extend hours of alcohol sale and consumption to 10am – 2am daily (currently 10am-midnight) and also offer a “happy hour” from 4pm-7pm daily.   They are open until 4am daily and currently have a license for on site sale and consumption of beer, wine and alcohol (full line of liquor).

RA introduces Aroma representative Sherrie Olson (SO) and Aroma owner Iashak Gedalin (IG) and they talk about meeting conditions for approval of initial alcohol license application, which was granted over 1 year ago. SO says original license application asked to serve alcohol until 1am and community wanted midnight until the business could prove themselves as a good neighbor, which they feel they’ve done. SO also says a lot of patrons have asked for a happy hour.  SO opens the floor to questions.

RA mentions that she spoke with the LAPD Vice officer for the area and said he is opposed to happy hours in the area, in part due to advertising that may result from it.

Stakeholder asks that the tables that are currently in the sidewalk in the public right of way be removed as they are blocking pedestrian traffic.

SO says that they will address that.

Stakeholder says that there is a very big problem with people on side streets south of Sunset Blvd and jaywalking dangerously across Sunset to get to the restaurant now and predicts the problem increasing if a happy hour is offered, especially since there is no on street parking on Sunset from 4-7pm.

Stakeholder asks is they offer valet parking and how much it is.

IG says they do and the first hour is free. $3.00 after that.

SO says they are willing to implement solutions to jaywalking and asks for suggestions.

Stakeholder suggests a sign on the premises reminding patrons not to jaywalk.

Stakeholder suggests a crosswalk.  SO says that is something she’d have to look into with the councilman’s office.

SO reminds stakeholders that alcohol will be served with food. Stakeholders counter that happy hour is more about drinks than food.

Stakeholder reminds them that they are right behind an elementary school, across the street from a church and abutting a residential area, and during rush hour and thinks that happy hour is too much.   Stakeholder also asks how not having a happy hour will affect business.

IG says that 4-7 now is a very quiet time and doesn’t anticipate parking problems.  Also says that the extension of sale and consumption hours is also important as it is embarrassing to have to take people’s drinks or bottles of wine from people who have sat down to eat at 11:30 or quarter to 12.  IG says that they are also competing with other businesses around them that do offer these hours and happy hours and that people will go to those other businesses.

IG and SO mention that they will not be advertising happy hour.

Stakeholder says that they have driven by Aroma at 2am and they are very crowded and they do not think that the midnight limit on sale and consumption looks like it is affecting business at all. They also say that there are already too many late night operations in the area and that most of the new alcohol licenses that have been approved have been limited to midnight and that has been done purposely.

Stakeholder asks for clarification of time limit, IG and SO state that currently drinks need to be picked up from tables by midnight.

Stakeholder says that at meeting for first application Aroma stated that alcohol sales were incidental and that they made money mostly from their coffee drinks.  IG confirms.

IG and SO confirm they do not have a hearing date yet.

Stakeholder asks if they are willing to drop the happy hour.

Owner states that their biggest concern now is the hours of consumption.

Stakeholder suggests that they try for a 1am time limit.

Stakeholder asks Senior Lead Officer Ralph Sanchez (RS) what sorts of crime they see in that area and how that might be affected by later hours.

RS says that they will need to speak to the Vice Officer before he can really make his assessment.

Stakeholder points out that later hours mean people going back to their cars parked on residential streets later at night, making noise. Another stakeholder says they have not really seen a lot of rowdy patron behavior at that time.

SO says they can put up signs reminding people to be good neighbors.

RA does a poll of the room to get an idea of what people are thinking, asks how many people are in favor of the happy hour how many people are in favor of extending the hours to 2am, 1am.

RA asks makes a motion to oppose the portion of Aroma Café’s land use permit application that proposes a happy hour. 9 in favor of motion, 4 opposed.  Motion passes.

Stakeholder mentions that on the topic of the extension of hours instead of taking a motion there should be a consensus of sorts so that the owners can get a feeling of what the community is thinking.

RA thinks that a motion about the extension of hours should wait until a hearing date is made and also until Vice makes their investigation.

RA moves onto next agenda item discussion of a conditional use permit application (liquor license) by the former Econo Lodge, now Sunset Inn and Suites at 7370-7372 Sunset Blvd.  The application is for a license to serve beer, wine and alcohol (full line of liquor) for on site sale and consumption from 6am-2am daily within the existing 17,010 sq ft two story hotel.  This includes a first floor bar/lounge having a total of 27 seats and a second floor open deck having a portable bar and a total of 52 seats. They are also requesting a license for in-room alcohol access cabinets ("mini-bars") in conjunction with the 39 hotel rooms. They are also seeking a variance to build the 2nd floor open to sky deck.

RA introduces Brandon Finch of EPG inc, representing Sunset Inn and Suites.

BF confirms application language, also states they are planning to have a restaurant which, along with any alcohol sales, will be made available only to guests of the hotel.

RA asks how that will be enforced.

BF says that it is part of their business model says that it is not currently listed as an applicant volunteered condition, but it can be.

Stakeholder mentions that hotel has been frequented a lot by guests renting only for the hour and is concerned about mixing full liquor with that clientele.

BF says that they are planning to redesign property as a boutique hotel. 

Stakeholder asks if they need any zone variances for their construction.

BF says they need one to have a 2nd floor area, where food or alcohol is being served that is “open to sky” and no other variances are necessary.

Stakeholder asks about other properties owned by Sanjay Patel (applicant).

BF says he converted a Motel 7 in Newport Beach and a hotel by LAX, but nothing else in Hollywood.

Stakeholder asks if footprint will be the same. BF says pool will be filled in and that will become the lobby. Stakeholder asks if a variance for density is needed, BF says no.

Stakeholder asks if lobby/bar will be facing Vista.  BF points to renderings which show that part will face Vista, and there will be a 2nd floor deck with 2 jacuzzis, which will also partly face Vista.

Stakeholder asks if all rooms will be completely remodeled.  BF doesn’t know if plumbing is going to be relocated in the rooms, but all rooms will be remodeled.

RA again asks about how to enforce “guests only” service policy, will they make people show their room key?  BF says that could be a condition.

Stakeholder asks why they need to have so many bars and offer alcohol in every room.  BF only addresses the need for the roof and downstairs bar, saying that patrons shouldn’t have to go upstairs and downstairs.

Stakeholder asks what kid of light and noise these new areas will create. BF says because of orientation any noise will be emitted toward Guitar Center.

Stakeholder asks about elevator.  BF says these are CUP plans and they don’t reflect and elevator, but there may be one on the construction plans.

Stakeholder asks how long this owner has owned the hotel and says there has already been a lot on construction noise and other noise going on in the hotel for several months, and has not had good interactions with the hotel staff on how to deal with the problems.  BF asks if it is noise from hotel guests.  Stakeholder confirms and says they haven’t been a good neighbor thus far, points out also that many illegal transactions take place on the Vista side of the hotel.

BF says that this owners plans to make the hotel more upscale and in doing so eliminate some of those problems.

Stakeholders says that the owners should have to prove themselves capable responsible management for at least a year or two before they are allowed to put in multiple bars and sell alcohol.

Stakeholder asks why owner is not present.  BF says he is out of the country.

Stakeholder asks why they feel the need to serve alcohol. BF says that alcohol plays a part in boutique hotels and people expect that.  BF starts to read blurb about concept for redesign, new hotel will be called Moment and individual rooms will be redecorated in different “wonders of the world” styles.

Stakeholders express confusion as they thought the name had already been changed to Sunset Inn and Suites. BF says this owner may have bought it as Sunset Inn and Suites, but that he is planning on changing it.

Stakeholder asks why a liquor license needs to be from 6am-2am if they have liquor in the room.  BF says there will be international travelers.

Stakeholder again brings up prostitution and asks how they are going to discourage that.  RA asks what the room rates are going to be. BF does not know.

BF says construction will only take two months.  Laughter ensues.

BF says there are 28 parking spaces.

Stakeholder asks what kind of clientele they are hoping to attract. BF says they are looking for an atmosphere that is light bright and active, not burdensome to the community.

BF says rooftop will be open until 2am.  RA asks if they are willing to change their hours. BF says that may be something the applicant may be open to.

BF says this application has been expedited and this hearing is scheduled for Dec 1.

Stakeholder asks if there will be music.  BF says light music. Laughter ensues.

Stakeholder asks if they have reached out to the neighboring church.  BF says they plan to.  RA says she spoke with them and they were unable to attend, but they were aware and had voiced some of the same concerns that stakeholders already had mentioned.

BF says that occupancy of deck has not been determined yet.

RA reiterates that having a boutique hotel in this area in an anachronism and what happens if he sets a price commensurate with other Los Angeles boutique hotels and then starts to lower his rate once business isn’t good, a bad element starts to return and now your have a low price hotel that serves liquor.

Stakeholder asks why they are rushing with this license before any of the construction has been finished and without knowing how any of the proposed changes including open air deck and jacuzzis are going to affect noise, etc without even factoring alcohol into the mix.  BF says its because the process is so backed up, the wait is currently 6 months.

Stakeholder asks if there has been a Mitigated Negative Declaration, a statement by the planning department that addresses the issues that they see, that all possible harms and concerns have been mitigated to a reasonable degree.  BF says yes and it is available to the public.

Stakeholders again reiterate that they would need to see owner/management prove themselves as an operator before being approved for these variances and permits.

Stakeholders and BF discuss background of owner Sanjay Patel, which is mostly Comfort Inns and Travelodge.  BF says that not of these projects have been transformed into a new concept and this project may be the first of this kind.

BF says the demographic they are looking for is a young, affluent traveler.

BF says that he is coming away from the meeting with the need for a very tight operational plan, and that there has to be responsible management on-staff.

Stakeholder complains that if the applicant has been in charge of the hotel for the past couple of months he hasn’t been handling problems very well so far.  BF says that this is not his team and he’s trying to rectify the situation.

A straw vote is taken to oppose variance for rooftop deck. 9 in favor, 1 abstain.  A straw vote is taken to oppose conditional use permit application for on site sale and consumption of alcohol. 10 in favor, 1 abstain.

Motion made to oppose both the granting of the requested conditional use permit for on site sale and consumption of alcohol and the granting of the requested variance, under section 12.14A, to build a “open to sky” 2nd fl at 7370-7372 W Sunset Blvd.  8 in favor, 1 opposed. Motion passes.

RA reiterates hearing information, Dec 1 at 1pm in City Hall Rm 1070.

RA says that 3rd agenda item will be tabled to another meeting.  Sunset Grill has just recently applied for their permit and didn’t feel prepared to present tonight.

RA introduces LAPD Senior Lead Officer Ralph Sanchez (RS). 

RS introduces himself as the liaison between the community and the city.  Addresses parking issue brought up by stakeholders living near Aroma, suggests possibility of permit parking on those streets.

Stakeholder expresses frustration over Vice officers interaction with community on liquor licenses.

RS says that we would need to requests those officers attend our meetings, and that sometimes it is hard for them to see where problems are until we bring them to their attention.

Doug Mensman of Councilman Tom LaBonge’s office, says that Vice officers often show up at hearings and that not everyone is a problem, so they won’t necessarily alert NC to every CUP, it would need to be the other way around.

Stakeholder mentions that medi-cal transportation vehicles have been parking on Vista and Martel everyday and using a handicap placard inappropriately.

RS talks about crime in the area: Harley Davidson theft, burglary from motor vehicles (don’t leave anything visible in your car), daytime burglaries – magazine solicitors testing to see if people are home who will ask questions to try to figure out personal details, how many kids, what time do they get home from school, are your pets friendly, etc etc.

RA adjourns the meeting at 7:40pm