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Santa Monica's House of Rock Survives Emergency Ordinance Hearing

Frank Gruber for City Council





Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

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

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

October 25, 2012 -- After nearly three hours of public comment and deliberation, Santa Monica's City Council failed to adopt an emergency ordinance that would have put the kibosh on large events at private homes for commercial reasons.

Mayor Richard Bloom and Mayor Pro-Tem Gleam Davis originally proposed the ordinance after residents of La Mesa Drive -- one of Santa Monica's wealthiest neighborhoods -- complained about The House of Rock, which they claimed was being used for large parties and causing a significant disturbance in the neighborhood.

“The facts are there to justify doing this on an emergency basis,” said Bloom after the ordinance failed in a 3-to-3 vote.

Bloom, Davis and Council member Kevin McKeown voted in favor of the emergency ordinance, while Council members Bobby Shriver, Bob Holbrook and Pam O'Connor voted against it.

The House of Rock is hosting an event on October 30 put on by the radio station KIIS FM. The Santa Monica Police Department has already agreed to help patrol the area to assure that it doesn't get out of hand, but Bloom said that he would rather not use city resources to police a party.

Davis agreed.

“This is an event being staged by KIIS FM at an event house in Santa Monica and for me that underscores the need for an emergency ordinance,” she said. “I think there is overwhelming evidence that this is a business. The current law prohibits operating a business in a residential area.”

“It does trouble me that we've given this business a free pass to operate in a residential zone,” she said.

“The events are not a business,” said Ben Reznick, the attorney representing the owners of the house.

Reznick said that he was glad the emergency ordinance wasn't adopted, saying that “cooler heads prevailed.”

He said that the Council got a “pretty strong commitment from my client in managing her future few events.”

However, not everyone is satisfied with the result.

“My clients were extremely disappointed at the council's unwillingness to adopt an emergency ordinance last night,” said Chris Harding, the attorney representing several of the House of Rock's neighbors.

“The staff report from last night's hearing agreed that the House of Rock is illegal under current law, yet the City apparently is going to devote substantial public resources to facilitate these events continuing for the foreseeable future,” he said.

“My clients intend to advocate vigorously for the city to meet its responsibilities and enforce the law,” he said.

Instead of passing the emergency ordinance, which would have needed a vote of five to be adopted, a substitute motion passed unanimously.

The Council will look again at the ordinance at its November 13 meeting to decide whether it should be adopted as a regular ordinance or an emergency ordinance.

“If things go really well, then we can table an item on the 13th. My hope is that things would go very well, and if not... it all ends on the 13th,” said Council member Bob Holbrook.

Council member Bobby Shriver, he opposed passing the emergency ordinance, agreed that something should be done prevent such uses in the future.

“We don't want this to become a marketing technique in Santa Monica,” he said.

Under current City law, it is illegal to run a commercial venture in a R1 -- single-family house -- zone, but Reznick maintains that his client does not make money off of the events she hosts.

He also says that the recording studio in the house is free to use for musicians who wish to use it.

Council member Terry O'Day was absent.

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