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Santa Monica Attorney Proposes Emergency Zoning Ordinance in “House of Rock” Battle



Frank Gruber for Santa Monica City Council

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Re-elect Robert Kronovet for Rent Control Board

Pico Business Improvement District
7th Annual Pico Festival
Sunday, October 28th

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

October 1, 2012 -- A prominent Santa Monica land-use attorney is proposing an emergency ordinance that would limit the frequency of large parties in single-family residential (R-1) zones.

After neighbors of the House of Rock -- a 10,000-square-foot house in one of Santa Monica's wealthiest neighborhoods -- complained that the house was being used for frequent and large events, Chris Harding has proposed an emergency ordinance that would limit parties of over 100 people in R-1 zones to once every three months.

The house -- the former estate of actress Kathryn Grayson -- “has been converted from a residential use into an events venue operated by House of Rock, LLC,” Harding wrote in his letter to the Council Friday.

“The consequences have been chaotic, jammed streets, noise and lights at an intolerable level,” he wrote.

Harding told the Council -- who will consider what steps to take, if any, Tuesday -- that the ordinance should be narrowly-focused in order to “prevent House of Rock-style uses in residential neighborhoods while, at the same time, not interfering with the typical social, charitable and political events that occasionally occur in single family homes.”

So far, designer Elaine Culotti – who says she lives at the residence -- has hosted two events at the House of Rock since September 15, a charity event for Music Unites and a “Verizon Event.”

Though Harding -- who represents two of The House of Rock's neighbors -- has brought the matter to the City's attention, he and his clients have not been satisfied with the response.

The City maintains that, if Culotti lives at the house, she is well within her rights to host parties there.

“While there have been allegations that the proposed events are purely commercial in nature, the evidence indicates that these are events hosted and attended by a homeowner to benefit her charitable causes,” Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen wrote in a letter to Harding dated September 18.

Harding maintains that The House of Rock is a violation of zoning codes.

“What is going on is truly extraordinary,” he wrote. “It involves the conversion of a single-family home into an events venue for both charitable and corporate events of a magnitude and frequency that has never before occurred in Santa Monica.”

Culotti bought the house in 2010 and renovated the house with the help of several other designers, each designing a separate room.

“We've done nothing wrong,” Culotti told The Lookout Tuesday. “There's not a process to book a venue. We picked the charities that we want to donate money to.”

Culotti said that the website ( for the house, which she hopes to sell by December, would be up and running later this month.

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