| 2007 REFERENDUM FAQs
There is another page of newer FAQs - See the link on the Home Page
REFERENDUM FAQ # 1
Q: At their February 20 meeting the planning commission imposed 12 midnight closing hours on the Sharkeez expansion. Won't those early closing hours protect us from any impact?
Answer: Even if it was a 10 p.m. closing, the additional patrons would add to car traffic and pollution in town, increase the competition for parking spaces, and require more police time to ensure those patrons' safety while they are visiting Hermosa.
Further, the midnight closing hours are not even final. The planning commission's action came before the council for final approval on March 27, after which there is a 10-day period during which Sharkeez could appeal: "Co-owner Greg Newman says he will appeal a requirement that a proposed open-air second-story eating area must close at midnight while the rest of the bar below can stay open until 2 a.m., an order he said makes it impossible to expand the nightspot by nearly 50 percent as planned." (Daily Breeze Feb. 22)
And even if the early closing hours (midnight) survive an appeal, will they survive after the November council election?
REFERENDUM FAQ # 2
Q: Why all this upset about the expansion of restaurants? What's wrong with having nice restaurants?
Answer: The Hermosa Beach Zoning Code defines a restaurant as not selling more alcohol than food (by dollar volume), but the city has not audited that 50 - 50 relationship at any restaurant in the last 20 years. As a result, in Hermosa a "restaurant" can operate like a saloon or night club - and many do.
REFERENDUM FAQ # 3
Q: During the March 13 council meeting one councilmember said, "Unless we change this ordinance, he couldn't rebuild what he had down there. That's all we're really doing, is changing the ordinance to allow him or anyone else down there to rebuild, if they should burn down." Is that correct?
Answer: No. The Council's new ordinance of March 13 was written specifically and exclusively to ease the present Zoning Code parking requirements associated with the addition of second stories. Sharkeez never had a second story, so had he elected to rebuild "what he had down there," he could have rebuilt it without assistance from the changes made by the new ordinance. Thus, if this referendum passes and the new ordinance cannot go into effect, Sharkeez can still rebuild to the same size they had before. (Actually, the new single-story Sharkeez would be slightly larger inside than the original Sharkeez, due to their plan to move the rear wall 3 feet southward to the rear property line, and because the new side and rear walls can be thinner than the original brick walls.)
The councilmember who made the above-quoted statement was absent from the meeting where the new ordinance was introduced, so he may have confused it another recent measure, the council's December 12 action (# 06-1276) easing the rules on the reconstruction of damaged nonconforming buildings. The new ordinance (# 07-1278) applies to all buildings with a greater than one-to-one floor ratio (second stories), without regard to whether the building was damaged, or is intact.
Can't blame him for the confusion, though. In the last several months there's been a lot of Sharkeez-related legislation. Besides the two ordinances noted above, there was a proposal for a "Parking In-lieu Alternative Payment Plan," heard at the January 9 council meeting.
REFERENDUM FAQ # 4
Q: A Spring 2007 newspaper article listed the numbers of police calls made to the Plaza. Where did those numbers come from?
Answer: The numbers were provided to a citizen by the HBPD. They included all calls for service for the Plaza, including security checks. At a future date the HBPD will provide numbers, without security checks. The June to February period was chosen because Sharkeez closed in mid-May 2006.
June 2004 to February 2005, inclusive, 1600 calls
June 2005 to February 2006, inclusive, 1433 calls
June 2006 to February 2007, inclusive, 1123 calls
REFERENDUM FAQ # 5
Q: Are you suggesting that Sharkeez should have to build parking on-site? Or on the Plaza?
Answer: No. Building parking on-site is impractical. And putting parking on the pedestrian Plaza, or facing it, is a ridiculous idea, one that was never discussed - until Sharkeez put an artist's rendition of it in their full-color mailer as a scare tactic. (For those who haven't seen it, the full-page artwork shows the restaurants on the south side of the Plaza raised up on pillars, with cars parked underneath, and trash blowing in an otherwise featureless Plaza presumably used as vehicular access to the parking.)
We agree that Plaza property owners need an exemption to the on-site parking requirement, so that they can exercise their property right to build up to the height limit; but we also believe that the City should provide the exemptions only to those projects where the new square-footage is to be office or retail space. The new ordinance allows any kind of use of the added footage - including bar or restaurant.
If this referendum passes and Sharkeez (or another Plaza businessman) is determined to build a second story of bar, the current Zoning Code would require him to build 5 spaces on site. We imagine that he would build them as a half-above-ground basement, with an access ramp connecting them to the existing parking lot behind his building. There would be no need for the parking to be visible from the Plaza.
REFERENDUM FAQ # 6
Q: Do other businesses support the Sharkeez project?Viva Hermosa !
Answer: Apparently not. Ordinarily, when a business in Hermosa is before the City Council or Planning Commission pursuing a new project or permit, the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce goes to the podium and speaks in support of the business. But with the Sharkeez two-story project she did not speak. (See the minutes of the Planning Commission meeting of February 20.) She was present, but remained in her seat. We can only conclude that the Chamber's Executive Board, made up of local businesspeople, voted to withhold the Chamber's support.
REFERENDUM FAQ # 7
Referendum FAQ # 7 is now FAQ # 2 in the new FAQ - see the link on the Home Page.
REFERENDUM FAQ # 8
Q: On March 30 many voters received a full-color four-page mailer from Sharkeez. And they have a new website, www.saveourplaza.org. What do you think of all that?
Answer: These are early comments. We may have more later!
The Mailer -
We discussed page one of the mailer - Sharkeez artist's painting of what the Plaza could look like if the referendum passes - in FAQ # 5, above.
On page two of the mailer, they said that their former (233) and proposed occupancies (299) represent an increase of 23%. First, we couldn't make the math work. Dividing their numbers, we got 28%. Second, according to the City building department, the official occupancy level for the proposed project has not yet been determined. It could end up much higher, as in Hermosa Beach occupancy levels are often the subject of extended and intense negotiation.
On page three we saw the heading "Referendum Threatens Pier" next to a picture of the Hermosa Beach fishing pier. We wish to make it clear that this referendum has no effect on the pier. We also noticed that page three talks about "considerable revenue for the city." We discussed that in FAQ # 7, above. Page three says that the ordinance is number 01-1278. It is 07-1278.
The back page of the mailer is a rendering of the front and back facades of the proposed new Sharkeez. It also includes a portion of the front of Patrick Molloys. The rendering is very detailed and if you look closely, you can see that the front and back marquee signs at Sharkeez are advertising 21 oz. Margaritas - an indication that the new Sharkeez won't be all that different from the old Sharkeez. After all, they will need to remain competitive with their neighbor, Molloys, whose marquee shows 50 cent drafts and Beer Pong (a bar-sponsored drinking game).
The Website -
The website mostly repeats the same material found in the mailer, with a picture of a wheelchair-bound young man continuing the mailer's emphasis on service to the handicapped.
The only really different thing is the website's name - Save Our Plaza. The name argues that if Sharkeez is rebuilt with just one story, the Plaza will be doomed. We want to save the Plaza too, so that ordinary Hermosans can once again feel comfortable walking there, and can't imagine that having to walk past twice as many outdoor revelers - at ground level plus up on the balcony - will improve the comfort level.
REFERENDUM FAQ # 9
Q: I do business with the City. Once these petitions have been submitted to the City Clerk, can the councilmembers look at them?
Answer: They cannot look. According to the City Clerk, these petitions are confidential.