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Santa Monica Planning Commission Postpones School Development, Grants Permits to Restaurants

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

April 22, 2013 -- After nearly four hours of discussion Wednesday, the Santa Monica Planning Commission voted to grant two restaurants alcohol permits but postponed a decision on Crossroads School's proposed Science Center.

In addition to granting Tiato in the Lionsgate building and a Japanese-style steakhouse at 1519 Wilshire Boulevard permits to sell alcohol, the Commission gave the go-ahead to a car dealership on a 22,500 square-foot parcel at 1401 Santa Monica Boulevard.

The proposed restaurant on Wilshire with more than 50 seats proved to be the most controversial item on Wednesday night’s agenda, with some 15 residents testifying before the board.

Public opinion was divided, with roughly half supporting the restaurant, which the new owner said would likely draw professionals between the ages of 25 and 35.

“This is not going to be a bar,” said Larry Greenwood, the property's new owner, adding that hoped to create a restaurant with moderate-priced dining.

Still, some residents testified against the proposal, saying they worried that rowdy crowds would gather after closing, as they had at The Palor, a bar previously on the property.

One resident called the previous situation “nightmarish,” while another resident said denying the new restaurant a permit to sell alcohol and to remain open until midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends would be “egregious.”

Planning Commissioner Jim Ries said the Commission should maintain control in the event that the new restaurant should inconvenience neighbors, but he said that “this again seems to be a complete different situation.”

Planning Commissioner Sue Himmelrich said that “there's a need for more late-night dining in Santa Monica, but she worried that there is no on-site parking and that the restaurant might serve hard alcohol.

“I just wouldn't want to see a bottle of vodka at a table, no matter what they're feeding people,” she said.

In the end, the Commission voted unanimously to grant the alcohol permit for the 1519 property, but prevented the sale of hard liquor.

As a result of the lengthy discussion on the two items, consideration of a proposed development agreement (DA) that would allow Crossroads School in the city’s industrial district to demolish five classrooms and replace them with a new three-story building was postponed.

The new science learning center, as proposed, would hold twelve classrooms.

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