Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Bungalow Motion to Dismiss Criminal Case Denied

Mizrahi Properties 107, 121-123, 150 and 227 N. Larchmont Blvd

Larchmont Bungalow, 107 N. Larchmont, owner Albert Mizrahi had his day in court on Friday when he presented testimony to Judge Kathleen Kennedy. But the city won the day. Mizrahi and his defense attorney, Alan Fenster, failed to convince Judge Kennedy to dismiss the city’s criminal case against the Bungalow on the grounds of discriminatory prosecution.

This was the second defense motion for dismissal the judge denied. The decision came after Mr. Mizrahi testified for more than an hour beginning by explaining that he suffered from Myelofibrosis, a chronic blood disease that leaves him very tired. He explained that he acquired four buildings (107, 121-123, 150 and 227 N. Larchmont) on Larchmont in 2007 because he thought the street had great retail potential. He said he just wanted to “shine up” the street and give people more options for spending money in the neighborhood.

Mizrahi said he originally planned to open a retail store at 107 N. Larchmont but when structural problems made that impractical he decided to tear the building down. In June 2008, the Los Angeles Business Journal reported that Mizrahi said he wanted to bring a restaurant into the 3,000 square foot space.

After refusing repeated meeting requests from Councilman Tom LaBonge because he was unable to travel downtown, Mizrahi testified that he met LaBonge at his Beverly Hills home.  When LaBonge learned of  his plan to tear down 107 N. Larchmont, LaBonge objected. So, Mizrahi said he decided he would open a restaurant  instead and began working closely with Renee Weitzer, staffer to La Bonge, who advised him to open a “take-out” restaurant to avoid conflicts with the “Q” conditions on Larchmont Blvd that restricts the number of restaurants, banks, etc.. Mizrahi said he wasn’t aware of the “Q” conditions when he bought the building and relied on Weizter, who he called the “mother of the street,” to guide him through the permitting process. He said he spent $1.1 million dollars renovating the space.

Mizrahi said he was confused when his architect informed him that LA Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) required him to sign two convenants to secure building permits; one for an attendant to manage the tandem parking and one stipulating there be no seating for dining. He said he was told that everyone was required to sign the convenants. He said he he didn’t really think it was a big deal and began construction since he wasn’t worried about the covenants.

The covenant prohibiting tables and chairs is central to the case. The building permits were issued as a condition of the covenant and subsequently revoked when Mizrahi violated the covenant. Mizrahi’s lawyer contends his client was singled out by LADBS asserting that other “take out” restaurants operate on the street with tables and chairs. Mizrahi and his lawyer said a small group of long-time residents complained to the city because Mr. Mizrahi forced out the local hardware store. Fenster told the judge that if Mizrahi had kept the hardware store his client would not be in court today.

In testimony last November, an LADBS staffer said Mr. Mizrahi was asked to sign the covenant because the space was quite large for a “take out” and the department was seeking assurances that it would not become a restaurant since no new restaurants are permitted under the “Q” conditions.

In her cross examination, Los Angles City Attorney, Serena Christion focused on the covenant. She asked Mr. Mizrahi if anyone from LADBS told him to sign the covenant, he responded no, his architect told him to sign. She asked if he received a notice from LADBS of the violation and the oder to remove the chairs and tables in October 2009, he replied yes. He said he was aware that he had a problem, but did not remove any tables and chairs, even after his certificate of occupancy was revoked.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Kennedy said she did not see any evidence presented by the defense of anyone else who signed a covenant, violated the covenant but was not prosecuted. As a result, she said she denied the discriminatory prosecution motion. She said Mr. Mizrahi seemed like a sophisticated business person but once he signed the covenant he was “dead in the water.” Because Mizrahi signed an agreement and subsequently violated the agreement, the criminal case would proceed.

The case now moves to Division 40 where it will be heard on February 15, with an expectation that a trial will begin within 30 days. That hearing may be combined with another complaint the city has against the Bungalow for violating the fire code. In September, fire department officials shut down the Bungalow for overcrowding. Further inspection revealed the Bungalow had failed to file a permit with the fire department. Since the Bungalow now lacks a certificate of occupancy (it was revoked in 2009 by LADBS for violating their covenant prohibiting tables and chairs) they can only operate with 49 people in the space at any time. Fire inspections are ongoing to prevent a safety hazard.



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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. Yes thanks for the update on the continuing saga. Perhaps there’s a tv show in the works?

    Think his Monopoly board pieces are spread out on both sides of the Blvd., yet he wasn’t aware of the conditions he’d agreed to. That’s a bit difficult to believe.

    Or, how’s about the time they attached price tags to the tables & chairs – “they’re for sale, not for dining” was their claim.

    Despite the various violations, he seems to be running a successful eatery. Presume he would have been shut down months ago, but he’s able to “buy” time.

  2. It is a very nice to place to eat. The food is very good, the atmosphere is quite nice and the the people that
    eat there seem quite stylish. It would be a shame and a great loss to the neighborhood for it to be shut down.

    I highly recommend the smoked salmon crepes!!


  3. Very helpful article! May I offer this grand bargain? How about allowing him to keep the Bungalow if he opens an old-timey general and hardware store? I hate having to drive to Home Depot or OSH for screws or boric acid. It could be called Useful Things. The Bungalow is a nice joint, but we need an organic produce store, a bakery with real bread instead of only pastries or cupcakes, and we need a hardware and general store in the Village. How about a food co-op at the old Blockbuster space? And an actual Hardware store in the Hardware space. Let’s keep Larchmont self-sustaining and walkable!

    • These are great suggestions. I used to spend much more time and money on Larchmont than I do now because I am not in the market for dessert or hats. Useful Things makes much more sense.

  4. This guy is a terrible scofflaw. He has known since the beginning that he was going to violate the law. There is a cap on the number of restaurants on the Boulevard in order to keep retail diversity there. Restaurants are very parking intensive uses…and 15-20 years ago the community came together to request a cap of 10….which at the time allowed 2 additional restaurants. A major, well connected Boulevard real-estate owner intervened and a loophole was created which means that all of the “take-out” places do not count against the cap. But who is kidding whom. The Bungalow is a restaurant and always intended to be a restaurant.
    This guy forced out the Larchmont Hardware store…and has had a series of “place-holder tenants (like the second hand clothing store) in that space for 5 years. Then he brings us a failed yogurt store….so much for shining up the neighborhood. This is like Mr. Shaloulian who acquired a lease on the Scottish Rite temple 20 years ago and ran it with no interest in what the law said could be done in the space. The community, at that time, spent tens of thousands in legal bills to get it shut down. The same stalling took place….operating while it ground thru the courts. Why doesn’t this guy merely buy a property with an existing restaurant…close that and move the entitlement to his beloved Bungalow?
    I hope that that the readers will consider all of this before patronizing the restaurant.

  5. I visited the restaurant once when it opened and my wife and I both agreed the food was a poor value in that it was below average and overpriced. Since learning of the zoning violation, we have vowed to never return. As a resident of Windsor Square, I am disappointed that this developer, of ill repute when it comes to Larchmont Blvd., willfully violated our zoning law and then challenges it in court. I hope he suffers financial losses commensurate with his willingness to offend the neighborhood, Building and Safety, Planning Dept, and City Attorney’s Dept. If he has a Master Plan for his Larchmont Blvd acquisitions, it appears to be a failure.


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