City of Santa Monica
California

Staff Report
1347

Appeals 14APP-006 and 14APP-007 of the Planning Commission’s approval of Conditional Use Permit 13CUP-017 and Parking Variance 13VAR-012 to amend existing alcohol and parking variance permits for the Georgian Hotel located at 1415 Ocean Avenue.

Information

Department:Development Services (PCD)Sponsors:
Category:06. Administrative Proceedings

Recommended Action

Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council:

1)              deny appeal 14APP-006 which seeks modification of certain conditions of approval as requested by the applicant/appellant Georgian Hotel (“the Georgian”);

2)              deny 14APP-007 submitted by the appellant Unite Here Local 11 (“Unite Here”);

3)              uphold the Planning Commission’s approval of Conditional Use Permit 13-017 and Variance 13-012 based on the findings and revised conditions of approval contained in this staff report.

 

Staff Report Body

Executive Summary

 

On September 17, 2014, the Planning Commission approved Conditional Use Permit 13CUP-017 and Parking Variance 13VAR-012 allowing amendments to the hotel’s existing Conditional Use Permit (08CUP-014) and Parking Variance (08VAR-020).  The CUP request is to increase the existing food and alcohol service area within the lobby, increase the total number of permitted seats in the lobby and veranda area (outdoor front porch), and allow general public access to the  lobby area and existing basement level restaurant dining areas. The Parking Variance request is to satisfy the off-street parking requirements associated with allowing general public access to the lobby and basement restaurant dining area through the provision of off-site parking and TDM measures.  The Planning Commission approved the requested permits.  The Georgian filed an appeal on September 29, 2014 related to the approved conditions of approval, and Unite Here filed an appeal on October 1, 2014.

 

The Georgian requests that Council consider modifications to conditions of approval 13 and 14.  Condition No. 13 prohibits use of the exterior door on the south side of the hotel for restaurant entry, and limits it to exit only.  The Georgian requests that this condition be removed to allow both entry and exit through this doorway.  Condition No. 14 requires that the primary use of the restaurant  in all service areas (basement, lobby, and veranda), be for sit-down meal service to patrons, and that alcohol shall not be served to persons except those intending to purchase meals.  Although the condition is not challenged for the basement level restaurant, the Georgian states that the underlined portion of this condition unreasonably limits service of alcohol when applied to the lobby or veranda areas of the hotel.

 

Unite Here requests that Council overturn the Planning Commission’s approval of the CUP and Variance, stating that the findings for approval cannot be made, and conditions of approval do not sufficiently mitigate the impacts (including environmental impacts) associated with the request on the community in terms of traffic, parking, alcohol permit saturation, and impacts on coastal access for persons of low to moderate income levels.

 

In consideration of the full record to date, staff recommends that the Council deny appeal 14APP-006 and 14APP-007, and uphold the Planning Commission’s approval of the CUP and Variance, with modifications to certain conditions of approval as described in this report.  

 

This report highlights the Planning Commission’s action, the points of each appeal provided by both appellants, and staff’s analysis.

 

Background

The subject property is located at 1415 Ocean Avenue on the east side of Ocean Avenue, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Broadway. The eight-story building is a City Landmark, and consists of 84 hotel rooms and approximately 3,007 square feet of restaurant area.  The parking area is accessed from the alley and provides 35 parking spaces in a tandem configuration through valet service.

 

 

                                                                                                           Georgian Hotel – 1415 Ocean Avenue

The relevant permit history for the site is described as follows:

 

§         February 18, 2008:                   Conditional Use Permit 08CUP-014 combines and supersedes 94CUP-001 and CUP 00-029 by extending alcohol service hours, and allowing a Type 47 alcohol license in conjunction with restaurant service to the general public within the veranda and a portion of the lobby consisting of 50 seats.  Parking Variance 08VAR-020 authorized a waiver of 10 parking spaces for the expanded seatingThe hotel is currently subject to the allowances and conditions of this CUP.      

Project Description

The Georgian seeks approval of 13CUP017 and Parking Variance 13VAR012 to amend 08CUP-014 and 08VAR-020 by authorizing food and alcohol service throughout the entire lobby area, allowing public restaurant service, including alcohol service, in the basement restaurant, and providing off-site parking and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures to satisfy the additional parking requirements.  The existing restaurant does not presently include live entertainment or dancing, and the Georgian does not seek to alter this.  Additionally, the Georgian does not propose changes to the existing alcohol service hours of operation established by the previous Conditional Use Permit 08-014 for all areas where food and alcohol is served within the hotel.  The current permitted hours of alcohol service are 7:00 AM to 12:00 AM Sunday through Wednesday, and 7:00 AM to 2:00 AM Thursday through Saturday. 

 

Lobby Area 

The Georgian proposes allowing the entire lobby area (1,167 SF) to be available for food and alcohol service to registered hotel patrons and the general public (see Diagram, p.4).  The existing CUP only permits a 267 square foot area located in the southern portion of the lobby as dining area to both hotel patrons and the general public.  The existing lobby seating and service area would be increased from 267 SF to 1,167 SF and 13 seats would be added, for a total of 63 seats within the lobby and veranda, 81 seats in the basement restaurant, for a total of 144 restaurant seats within the three dining areas.  The lobby area would be remodeled to add a bar area with approximately 4 bar seats (part of the additional 13 seats) at the north side of the lobby that would provide both food and drink service for hotel patrons and the general public, and serve as a waiting area lounge for patrons.  The applicant states that, due to the limited lobby size, they would like to simplify the space by eliminating the current restrictions that physically divide how the lobby can be utilized. 

 

 

Basement Restaurant

Within the basement restaurant dining area, the Georgian proposes expanding food and alcohol service to the general public, rather than limiting service to hotel patrons and their guests only as is presently required. The basement consists of 1,397 square feet with 81 dining seats, including a bar area addition consisting of 7 bar/dining seats.  While the Georgian states that it would initially utilize the basement restaurant to assist the hotel with overflow seating in the veranda and lobby areas, future plans for the space may include an independent restaurant operator not associated with the hotel.  The recommended alcohol-related conditions of approval would be appropriate under either circumstance.  Primary access to the basement restaurant is provided from a stairway and elevators connected to the main lobby on the ground floor level.  Direct access to the basement is also provided from an external stairway located adjacent to the sidewalk, however the existing CUP requires this to be exit only since the basement is currently only available to hotel patrons and their guests, and not the general public.  However, the Georgian would prefer the convenience and flexibility to allow direct street access to the basement.

 


Parking Variance

The request to increase the restaurant service areas to the general public results in additional parking requirements.  The subject property contains an existing hotel that is legal non-conforming as to parking standards.  Existing on-site parking consists of 35 parking spaces configured in a tandem arrangement within a surface parking area. This parking is operated with valet service by the hotel as conditioned by existing parking variance 08VAR-020.  Due to site conditions which preclude the hotel from providing additional parking spaces, the application includes a parking variance to satisfy off-street parking requirements for the proposed operation.  Restaurants within a hotel which are open to the general public are required to provide parking based on a parking ratio of 1 space per 75 square feet of dining area (SMMC Section 9.04.10.08.040).  Based on the Georgian’s proposal, the expanded dining area within the lobby and basement level consists of 2,297 SF requiring a total of 31 parking spaces. 

 

Expanded Lobby Area Dining:    900 SF @ 1 space per 75 SF =  12.0

Basement Level Dining Area:  1,397 SF @ 1 space per 75 SF = +18.6

                                                                                                         30.6 (rounded to                                  

                                                                                                                  31 spaces)

 

However, as discussed subsequently in the appeal analysis section of this report, staff does not support the Georgian’s request to utilize the entire lobby area as dining area and recommends that the middle portion of the lobby remain open and accessible for hotel patrons accessing the building.  If the Council supports staff’s recommendation, the parking requirement for the project would be reduced to 26 spaces.  In its approval, the Planning Commission limited the use of the middle portion of the lobby in this manner. 

 

Planning Commission Action

On September 17, 2014, the Planning Commission reviewed and approved the proposed Conditional Use Permit and Parking Variance.  The Commission’s discussion focused on Condition 13 regarding the restaurant entry, and Condition 14 regarding meal service with alcohol.  Refer to Attachment D for conditions referenced in this section. 

 

As discussed, Condition 13 of 08CUP-014 prohibits basement restaurant entry from the exterior of the hotel through the southern doorway and limits this to an exit-only doorway.  The Georgian’s CUP amendment requested that this condition be eliminated.  However, the Commission found that maintaining this condition was important to mitigate potential noise impacts generated by patron queuing.  The Georgian contends this limitation is unreasonable and has appealed the condition.

 

Condition 14 provides that the primary use of the restaurant component of the hotel in all service areas, shall be for sit-down meal service to patrons, and requires that alcohol not be served to persons except those intending to purchase meals.  This is a standard condition commonly imposed on restaurants requesting alcohol service. The purpose of this condition is to ensure that such establishment continue to operate as restaurants and do not convert into a bar-like operation.   The Commission discussed potential alternatives to the condition to address the Georgian’s concerns that alcohol consumption without food service is common within hotel lobbies, lounge areas, or food service areas within hotels.  After much discussion, the condition was maintained as part of the CUP approval.   

 

Unite Here submitted a letter to the Commission prior to the hearing outlining opposition to the proposal, disagreeing with the proposed conditions in addressing parking and transportation demand in the area, and stating that parking and transportation mitigation conditions should further encourage local hiring and local living for hotel employees.  In response to these comments, the Commission discussed including a local hiring provision as a condition of approval.  The Georgian agreed to this provision, which has been imposed as Condition 36 and does not challenge it on appeal.  The local hiring provision would facilitate the employment of low-income residents by establishing priority for targeted job applicants through advertising in the local newspaper, including notice to the Hospitality Training Academy.  The Planning Commission’s Statement of Official Action is provided as Attachment D.

 

Discussion

Appeal Analysis

The Council, in its de novo review of this appeal, must determine whether the proposed project meets the findings required for a Conditional Use Permit and Variance identified in SMMC Sections 9.04.20.12.040 and 9.04.20.10.050, provided in Attachment A. The Council may uphold the appeal or uphold the decision of the Planning Commission, in whole or in part, based upon these findings.

 

Georgian Hotel Appeal

The Georgian challenges Conditions 13 and 14 of the Planning Commission approvalThe complete appeal statement is provided as Attachment B.  In summary, the Georgian requests that these conditions be modified to:

 

1)     Allow the existing exterior basement doorway to serve as both an entrance and exit for patrons to access the basement level restaurant.

  

2)     Allow registered hotel patrons and their guests, and the general public to order alcoholic beverages without having to order meals. 

 

Condition 13

For convenience of operation, the Georgian requests that the exterior doorway be allowed to serve as both an entrance and exit that would allow patrons to access the basement level restaurant directly from the street without having to enter through the hotel lobby.  The Georgian states that the basement level restaurant at the hotel was originally developed as a speakeasy with a separate entrance, and the use of the doorway would be consistent with its historic use prior to the CUP condition. 

 

In reviewing the appeal, staff believes allowing direct patron access to the basement restaurant as proposed would be appropriate with limitations since the current request is to open the basement restaurant to the public.  Furthermore, staff believes that allowing direct access to the basement level from the street level would provide a pedestrian-oriented entry and promote activity along the sidewalk, improving the walkability along the mid-block portion of Ocean Avenue.  Specifically, south of the property along Ocean Avenue, between the Hotel and Broadway, the street lacks active ground-floor pedestrian-oriented uses.

 

In imposing the restriction, the Planning Commission expressed concerns regarding potential noise generated by restaurant patrons utilizing the external stairs, and particularly with patrons queuing within the stairwell. To address this issue, staff recommends allowing both entry and exiting, provided that waiting along the stairs by restaurant patrons be prohibited. Revised Condition 13 would read as follows:

 

§         Revised Condition 13: Entry into the basement level restaurant through the southern doorway utilizing the exterior stairs accessed from the street level shall be allowed, however restaurant patrons waiting along the external stairs is prohibited. 

 

 

Condition 14

Condition 14 (Attachment D) requires that the primary use of the restaurant component of the hotel in all service areas be for sit-down meal service to patrons, and that alcohol not be served to persons except those intending to purchase meals.  The Georgian agrees to this condition for the basement restaurant, however it believes this condition should not apply to the lobby and veranda areas where hotel patrons and their guests, and the public should be allowed to order alcoholic beverages without ordering meals.

 

The Georgian believes that hotel guests customarily wish to consume alcoholic beverages without meal service while relaxing in the lobby, waiting for check-in, or a taxi.  The Georgian believes the standard alcohol-related condition that was imposed is more appropriate for a standalone restaurant not associated with a hotel.  Furthermore, the appellant states that pedestrians walking along Ocean Avenue may wish to visit the hotel and lounge on the veranda and be served an alcoholic beverage without ordering a meal.  The Georgian Hotel does not intend to operate a bar area in which only alcohol service is available, and food would be available in all areas during all hours when alcohol is available, pursuant to other recommended alcohol conditions. 

 

In further support for this requested change, the Georgian states that there are alcohol Conditional Use Permits for other hotels in the downtown area and along Ocean Avenue that do not include the subject condition, and that other hotels, such as the Viceroy Hotel, only have a condition that food or meals be available during alcohol service hours, and do not include a requirement that alcohol cannot be served unless patrons intend to order food.  Other hotels within the area where alcohol service is currently regulated by a CUP include the Shore Hotel, Loews, Shangri-La, and Casa Del Mar.  Of these existing establishments, the Shore Hotel and Loews requires that patrons must be either seated or waiting to be seated for meal service in order to be served alcohol.  Alcohol service within the Le Merigot, and Le Meridien Delfina hotels are currently not regulated by a CUP.  Therefore, these hotels may serve alcoholic beverages to patrons who do not intend to purchase a meal.   Staff notes that the CUP’s with less stringent regulation were issued some years ago.  The City’s regulatory approach has evolved, particularly in light of increased problems associated with establishments serving alcohol.

        

However, in reviewing the Georgian’s request, staff agrees that hotels with ancillary restaurants are different in nature from standalone restaurants and based on the hotel setting and operation, it may be appropriate with careful regulation to allow a patron to be served an alcoholic beverage without meal service.  However, staff remains concerned that allowing the service of alcohol without meals could still promote the conversion of a portion of the hotel establishment into a bar.  To address this matter while recognizing the unique nature of hotel operations, Staff recommends Condition 15 which would allow patrons to be served a maximum of two alcoholic beverages without ordering food.  This condition would enable the Georgian to meet its stated objective of offering its guests alcohol while they wait for check-in or before departing for dinner or other activities, but would aid in preventing the hotel from turning into a drinking destination for the general public. This revised condition would apply to the lobby and veranda areas only.  Furthermore, Conditions No. 12, 14, 18, and 19 ensure that food service would be available and that all patrons would have the ability to purchase food concurrent with alcohol service.  As an alternative to this proposal, staff considered allowing only hotel patrons and their guests (excluding public patrons) to be served a maximum of two alcoholic beverages without ordering food.  However, staff believes differentiating hotel patrons and their guests from public patrons would be difficult for the hotel to administer and for the City to enforce.   

 

As a result of modifying Condition 14, the Georgian also requests new and revised language as provided in their appeal statement, resulting in conditions 11, 15, and 19.  In reviewing this issue, and in order to support Condition 14 modifications, staff recommends changes to the following four conditions:

§         New Condition 11 (replaces current Condition 11): The primary use of the premises shall be a hotel.  Alcohol may be served to registered hotel patrons and their guests via room service and by controlled access cabinets in the hotel rooms.  Alcohol may also be served to registered hotel patrons and their guests, and the general public in the lobby, the veranda, and the downstairs restaurant, in accordance with the approved seating plan and all of the conditions of this alcohol permit.

 

§         Revised Condition 14: The primary use of the downstairs restaurant at the hotel shall be for sit-down meal service to patrons.  Alcohol shall not be served to persons except those intending to purchase meals.

 

§         New Condition 15 (replaces current Condition 15): The primary use of the outdoor dining area located on the veranda and the lobby dining areas shall be for seated meal service.  Patrons who are standing in the outdoor seating area located on the veranda or the lobby area shall not be served.  Registered hotel patrons and their guests, and the general public in the lobby and on the veranda may be served a maximum of two alcoholic beverages without ordering food, provided: (1) food is always available for purchase in these areas when alcohol is served, and (2) the primary use of these areas remains for seated meal service.  No portion of these areas may serve as a separate bar only establishment where food is not available.

 

§         Revised Condition 19: Customers shall be permitted to order meals at all times alcohol is served.

 

Unite Here Local 11 Appeal

Unite Here requests that Council overturn the Planning Commission’s approval of the CUP and Variance, stating that the actions, findings, and conditions of approval do not sufficiently address the impacts on the community in terms of traffic, parking, alcohol permit saturation, and impacts on coastal access for persons of low to moderate income levels.  In particular, Unite Here states the following:

 

1)     The Georgian Hotel is currently violating terms and conditions of their existing Conditional Use Permit, relating to the public use of the basement, alcohol service to non-hotel guests in the basement, and expansion of existing seating and dining areas within unapproved areas.

  

2)     The hotel should not be granted a parking variance because the total number of parking spaces provided is insufficient based on current parking requirements, resulting in traffic and parking impacts.

 

3)     The recent changes to the Georgian Hotel have increased the inability for persons of low-to-moderate income to access hotel accommodations in the coastal area.

 

Based on the full record to date, including review of the appeal statement summarized below, staff continues to recommend approval of both Conditional Use Permit and Parking Variance applications, as modified.  Unite Here’s complete statement is provided as Attachment C.  

 

Alleged Georgian Hotel Operation Violations

Unite Here claims the Georgian is not in compliance with its existing CUP.  Unite Here states that the Planning Commission staff report was unclear on the amount of food and alcohol service allowed within the lobby and veranda, and suggests that there are expanded areas that are currently being used for restaurant service.  To clarify, there are two separate dining areas consisting of a 267 SF portion of the lobby area and the 477 SF veranda dining area, totaling 744 SF of permissible dining area open to the public pursuant to the current CUP 08-014.  Unite Here argues that it would be inappropriate to allow the hotel to amend their CUP, claiming that the Hotel may be violating the terms of its existing CUP.  However, staff has no evidence of these alleged violations.  More specifically, there have been no code compliance cases to date investigating improper seating arrangements or CUP/alcohol-related violations.    Unite Here also describes typical average space per dining seat to support a suggestion that the Hotel will add more seats in dining areas, such as the lobby area, than the Hotel is permitted to provide.  However, if the Council approves the requested CUP, it will establish the exact number and location of the seating in the lobby and veranda, the violation of which will be subject to Code enforcement.

 

Parking Variance: Impacts on Traffic and Parking

Unite Here expresses concerns regarding traffic and parking, contending that the parking requirements are underestimated, since a parking ratio of 1 space per 50 SF of bar area and 1 space per 300 SF per kitchen support area were not factored into the parking calculation.  However parking requirements were calculated correctly since bar area parking ratios are only applied to standalone bars or bars that are physically separated from the primary dining area.  The Georgian does not propose such areas.  Furthermore, the bar seats would function the same as table seats where meal service would be available during all alcohol service hours.  The existing kitchen facility in the basement is not subject to additional parking requirements as the space would not generate any additional parking since it currently provides food service to the existing restaurant. 

 

Unite Here also questions the exclusion of the middle portion of the lobby area from the restaurant parking calculations and also states that the hotel would utilize the space contrary to their approval.  As discussed, staff does not support the Georgian’s request to utilize the entire lobby area for a dining area and recommends that the middle portion of the lobby remain open and accessible for hotel patrons accessing the building.  Since this area does not include seating, staff does not support authorizing patrons standing within this area the ability to consume food or alcoholic beverages.  Allowing the use of this space in this manner would aid in the conversion of this space to more of a bar-like atmosphere.  Accordingly, if the staff recommendation is accepted, this area would not be included in the parking calculation.  In contrast, if Council were to accept the Georgian’s request, the number of required parking spaces would need to be increased to 31 and the off-site parking requirement would need to be increased accordingly.

 

        

 

To ensure that this portion of the lobby is not utilized as dining, staff recommends Condition 15 that would prohibit food or alcohol service to standing patrons within the lobby, and Condition 49 that would require that restaurant seating areas be in accordance with the approved plans.  Accordingly, the parking calculation would be as follows:

 

 

 

Expanded Lobby Area Dining:    550 SF @ 1 space per 75 SF =     7.3

Basement Level Dining Area:  1,397 SF @ 1 space per 75 SF = +18.6

                                                                                                         25.9 (rounded to                                  

                                                                                                                  26 spaces)

 

Unite Here also believes the parking variance and total number of parking spaces provided is insufficient based on current parking requirements.  The Georgian currently has a parking variance which requires that 35 spaces be provided on-site with a specified TDM measure and valet service condition.  The Georgian is operating in accordance with these requirements. The requested parking variance at issue only concerns the additional parking that is required due to the Georgian’s requested change and expansion in the operation of the restaurant facilities. 

 

In review of the requested parking variance, staff believes a hybrid approach of leasing additional off-site parking spaces and implementing a comprehensive Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program is warranted.  Accordingly, staff recommends Condition 39 to require the applicant secure a minimum of 15 additional off-site parking spaces in lieu of the 26 on-site required spaces.  The condition would include a minimum 12-month term for lease agreements, and the off-site spaces must commence within 300-feet of the subject property and be located within a 1,000-foot perimeter.  Alternatively, through a Shared Parking Permit pursuant to the City’s Interim Zoning Ordinance No. 2490 (CCS) (“IZO”), parking could be located anywhere in the Downtown Core.  To ensure the maximum use of the hotel’s on-site parking and to facilitate overflow parking to the 15 off-site parking spaces, Condition 38 requires that the existing valet attendant parking service be available to both hotel and restaurant patrons.

 

Unite Here believes this off-site parking requirement is not adequate, and states that these 15 parking spaces would not be considered “new” spaces within the downtown, thereby further exacerbating parking and traffic since the project would not increase the downtown parking supply.  However, staff believes the use of underutilized parking in the Downtown area should be encouraged through shared parking arrangements.    Building additional parking for the project as suggested by Unite Here would be contrary to the City’s goals of utilizing existing parking supply through shared parking arrangements and reducing parking demand through the implementation of TDM strategies that would further address additional parking demand. 

 

Staff believes a waiver of the requirement for the remaining 11 parking spaces is warranted based on implementation of a TDM program, the Georgian’s documented employee transit usage to the workplace, and the project’s location in the Downtown.  The TDM program (see Condition 35) would include, but not limited to, employee transit passes and parking cash out, a customer incentive program, and complementary bike valet service to incentivize employees and restaurant patrons to consider alternate modes of transit to the site other than single occupancy vehicles.  Several of these measures have been demonstrated to significantly reduce the use of single-occupancy vehicle to the workplace.

 

The hotel’s recent annual employee trip reduction plans indicate an Average Vehicle Ridership (AVR) of 2.16 (am/pm average) where approximately 59% of hotel employees utilize non-single occupancy vehicle transportation to the workplace, which is higher than the 40% city average, and higher than the hotel’s previous year of 50%.  Therefore, it is anticipated that employee parking demand would not considerably increase even if additional staff were required.  However, the Georgian states that additional staff will not be needed, since it intends to extend shift hours to accommodate expanded service. 

 

Unite Here provides estimates of the number of potential hotel and non-hotel customers who would visit the restaurant per day, and states that the restaurant would eventually primarily serve non-hotel patrons, resulting in a higher parking demand than the parking variance could accommodate.  The Georgian states that approximately 70% of current restaurant patrons consist of hotel patrons and 30% consists of the general public.  Staff acknowledges that although the percentage of public use could increase based on the additional restaurant seats or having an independent restaurant in the basement area, hotel restaurants typically consist of a mix of hotel patrons and the general public.  Therefore a lower public parking demand generated by the public for restaurant service may translate to a lower parking requirement.  However because data has not been provided that substantiates the hotel’s restaurant patron mix statement, staff has not utilized this information in discounting the parking requirement.

 

Finally, the Downtown is a highly successful “Park Once-Pedestrian First” district consisting of a shared parking supply and multi-modal transit system.  Even when individuals choose to drive, they can park their vehicle at a central location at the beginning of their trip, walk to multiple destinations, and return to their vehicle just before they leave the area, thereby reducing the need for driving.  Based on the hotel’s location within this district, it is anticipated that restaurant patrons will visit other commercial uses in the area, and utilize transit or nearby public parking facilities within the nearby downtown area, resulting in a lower on-site parking demand. 

 

Unite Here also questions the utilization of two existing parking spaces for valet bike parking, as outlined in the TDM bike valet provision.  The use of two vehicular parking spaces could provide up to twenty bike parking spaces.  Valet bike parking service for customers at this location would further City goals in encouraging local residents to utilize bicycles to sites located along Ocean Avenue and the overall downtown area.  However, staff concurs that provision of a bike valet should not be at the expense of already limited parking.  Staff proposes revising this provision to provide that in the event the hotel utilizes on-site vehicular parking spaces to accommodate bike valet parking demand (2 space maximum), then an equal number of new parking spaces must be provided off-site in accordance with Condition 39 (off-site parking requirement).

 

Coastal Access for Persons of Low to Moderate Income   

Unite Here states that the Georgian is an existing hotel that is “out of market” for persons of low-to-moderate income levels, and states that the approved requests increase the inability for persons of low-to-moderate income to access the hotel (and therefore the coastal area). Unite Here refers to the Coastal Act and states Coastal Commission responsibilities to protect and provide lower-cost overnight accommodations as required by the Coastal Act (Section 30213 referenced).  The City implements the requirements of the Coastal Act through Policy 35 of the City’s Local Coastal Program and Ordinance Number 1516 (CCS).  However, since the Georgian Hotel is not affordable lodging and is not removing any affordable lodging, it is therefore not subject to these provisions. 

 

Alcohol Permit Saturation

Unite Here contends that the action, findings, and conditions of approval do not sufficiently mitigate the impacts (including environmental impacts) associated with the Conditional Use Permit and Parking Variance on the community in terms of alcohol permit saturation.

 

The Police Department has not indicated any alcohol-related issues or concerns regarding the restaurant’s operations since food and alcohol service to the public commenced in 2009, and no alcohol-related code compliance cases have been filed by the City during this time.  Updated alcohol-related conditions of approval have been added to the existing CUP 08CUP-014 conditions to further minimize potential impacts associated with on-site alcohol consumption and to ensure the restaurant will not adversely affect the welfare of neighborhood residents. The proposed CUP amendments will not contribute to an undue concentration of alcohol outlets in the area in that the restaurant currently has an existing alcohol license that permits alcohol sales to hotel patrons and the general public, and therefore will not increase the number of alcohol serving establishments in the District.

 

Community Outreach

Downtown Santa Monica Inc. had been notified of the project and did not have comments or objections to the request for alcohol as proposed by the applicant.

 

 

Alternatives

As an alternative to the staff recommendation, the Council may consider the following with respect to the pending appeals if supported by the full evidentiary record:

1.     Uphold Conditional Use Permit (13CUP017) and Variance (13VAR012) and deny the subject applications.

2.     Articulate revised findings and/or conditions to Approve OR Deny the subject applications.

 

Environmental Analysis

The project is categorically exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), pursuant to Section 15303, New Construction or Conversion of Small Structures, of the State Implementation Guidelines in that the project involves modifications to existing restaurant operations within the Georgian Hotel, with minor interior improvements and no increase in floor area to the building.   

 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action.

 

Meeting History

Sep 29, 2015 5:30 PM  City Council Special Meeting
draft Draft