A proposed ordinance that would allow rooftop dining to be added to the Santa Monica Pier was quickly approved Oct. 23 without fanfare by the City Council.
Romana Pier LLC presented plans to City Hall to build a new restaurant on the Pier, with those plans calling for customer access on the third floor. However, three story structures of any kind were not permitted on the pier. Hence, an amendment to the Municipal Code was necessary in order to allow rooftop dining at Santa Monica’s most famous landmark.
After Planning Commissioners supported the Municipal Code amendment to allow rooftop dining, Council members gave its unanimous approval for the ordinance.
City staff pointed out that the potential addition of rooftop dining on the pier would enhance the overall experience of visiting Santa Monica most iconic destination.
“The Santa Monica Pier is a unique location, with ocean, beach, sunset and Palisades bluffs views. The Pier is an ideal location for roof top dining as the location allows dining patrons to enjoy the natural landscape,” City staff stated. “The proposed ordinance improves the operation of roof deck dining areas on the Pier.”
According to City staff, the maximum allowable district height for all structures on the pier would still be 30 feet and would continue to “minimize the perceived mass of the additional projections.”
“The proposed ordinance … would allow structures such as bathrooms, service stations, lobby areas, and storage areas on the roof of two-story buildings on the Santa Monica Pier,” Paul Foley, a principal planner at City Hall, told council members, adding the addition would allow restaurant owners to “enhance customer service.”
According to City staff, the new restaurant would be built inside the already existing Billiards Building on the pier, a space that was previously used as a cabaret and restaurant.
Submitted plans indicate the current structure would be altered to allow for a raised first floor ceiling height, an expanded mezzanine “to create a full second floor,” and the addition of a roof deck for outdoor dining and ocean views.
There are limits for Romana Pier LLC or anyone else seeking to add rooftop dining to their restaurants. Specifically, if a restaurant already meets or exceeds height restrictions per the city’s zoning ordinance, they will not be allowed to add rooftop dining.
Still, at the Planning Commission’s Aug. 15 meeting, City staff said the addition of third floor rooftop dining means dining areas could be incorporated in restaurants on the pier without taking valuable pier deck space.
If the proposed amendment survives its second read, pier buildings could be allowed to add a third floor to its respective structures.
“Buildings on the Santa Monica Pier may be three stories in height provided that the third story is comprised of structures that support roof top dining, … restrooms, server stations, elevator lobby areas, and service/storage areas,” the amended code would read.
According to City staff, “the proposed amendment is consistent in principle with the goals, objectives, policies, land uses and programs specified in the adopted General Plan” as well as with the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).
Council member Terry O’Day was not present at the Oct. 23 meeting, while Council members Bobby Shriver and Kevin McKeown were not on the dais for the vote.
The ordinance will return to council members Nov. 13 for a second reading. Should it receive at least four votes then, the ordinance will officially be on the books.