The Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee of the City Council did not reach a decision Tuesday on the Larchmont Bungalow’s appeal to overturn the Central Area Planning Commission’s unanimous, October 2014, denial (5-0 vote) of the Bungalow’s request for special treatment to allow the Bungalow to operate as a restaurant.
After about 40 minutes of testimony, followed by questions from Committee Chairman Councilman José Huizar and Councilman Gil Cedillo, Chairman Huizar continued the matter until January 27 and asked the Planning Department staff to report back concerning the Councilmembers’ questions including whether any other Larchmont restaurants had been granted certificates of occupancy in the 23 years since the adoption of the Larchmont “Q” Condition.
In presenting this appeal to the PLUM Committee, Bungalow lawyer Jerry Neuman asserted that while Mr. Mizrahi may have not shown the best judgment in his actions over the years, he nonetheless deserves the zone change so that he can operate his restaurant legally since the “Q” conditions are too complicated for anyone, including the City, to understand. Lawyer Neuman also asserted that the Bungalow has been singled out and that many other food establishments were violating the zoning law for Larchmont. In response, Inspector John Kelly from the Department of Building and Safety said that his department had cited three other “cheaters.” Debbie Lawrence from the Planning Department said that the request for a zone change for just one property (“spot zoning”) was not in the best interest of the Boulevard or the community as a whole, and she urged the PLUM Committee to join the Central Area Planning Commission in denying the appeal.
About ten Bungalow employees and patrons spoke on behalf of the Bungalow saying they didn’t want the restaurant to close its doors. Representatives of two neighborhood associations spoke to urge denial of the appeal.
Renée Weitzer, Land Use and Planning Deputy for Councilman Tom LaBonge, urged the PLUM Committee to deny the appeal. She testified that Mr. Mizrahi was told well in advance of the opening of his business in 2009 that the “Q” conditions prohibited any more restaurants. She stated that denying the appeal will not mean that his business will need to close; he can continue to operate the actual business for which he applied and for which his permits and Certificate of Occupancy were granted (retail and take-out only; no tables and chairs). Weitzer made several efforts to clarify lawyer Neuman’s intentionally confusing arguments. Ultimately, though, Chairman Huizar concluded the hearing by allowing further delay — granting Mizrahi a two-week continuance.
If you feel strongly about the Larchmont Bungalow appeal, consider sending your thoughts via email directly to the PLUM Committee at [email protected] or [email protected] or Renee Weitzer at Council District 4 at [email protected].
The Larchmont Buzz also welcomes your comments below.