HANNAH HEINEMAN, Mirror Contributing Writer
After a lengthy hearing Santa Monica’s Planning Commission voted against Busby’s Restaurant request to expand its facilities by adding an outdoor lounge/pool/spa facility with additional outdoor seating, which means the restaurant will continue to operate as it has been.
The restaurant wants to expand its facilities because its business has been heavily impacted by the downturn in the economy. Currently, they are operating as a restaurant/sports bar with seating for 180 customers without a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). A CUP would have had to be approved by the Commission as well as a parking variance to satisfy the off-street parking requirements if the expansion had been approved.
A large number of community members spoke prior to the Commission’s vote. Michelle Lidel who owns apartment buildings that are adjacent to Busby’s stated that she “has lost a lot of tenants” due to the noise litter, and parking problems the sports bar has caused.
Echoing Lidel was Dianne Murphy who lives on Santa Monica Boulevard. She told the Commission, “sleep is regularly interrupted at 2 a.m. by patrons leaving Busby’s. I hear a lot of screaming from there when there are major sporting events” going on.
Another resident, Amber Perry, who lives nearby complained that Busby’s “security is sporadic.”
Other neighbors disagreed. Shawn Walktier who resides right behind Busby’s was in favor of the expansion. In his view they “provide a lot of security” which helps make his neighborhood more secure.
Resident Richard Delob favored the expansion because it would include “sound-reducing walls” which would decrease the restaurant’s noise impact on its neighbors. He also liked the idea that a CUP could control the late-night noise because it could limit the hours of operation of the business.
Commissioner Jason Parry along with several other Commissioners attempted to craft conditions for the CUP that would help mitigate both the potential noise-related impacts on the surrounding residential neighborhood if they allowed the expansion and the current noise-related impacts complained about by its neighbors. However, a vote on those conditions was not successful. While the Commission was discussing them, the applicant requested to withdraw their CUP request due to dissatisfaction with some of the conditions.
In the end, the Commission decided to support Commissioner Jay Johnson’s recommendation to deny the expansion. He explained that, “over the years we have seen the lack of ability” for the City to enforce the type of CUP conditions being proposed. In addition, approving the CUP would “intensify the use” of the property without addressing the increased need for parking for the restaurant/sports bar’s users. Lastly, Johnson stated that the denial would allow the applicant to come back to the City in the future with a better proposal.
The Commission’s denial agreed with City staff’s recommendation.
Contach Hannah Heineman