2007 REFERENDUM - WHY
burned down in May 2006.
2006 the city council approved an ordinance (#
06-1276) amending the Zoning Code to ease the rules on the
reconstruction of damaged nonconforming buildings - such as Sharkeez.
2007 Sharkeez went before the planning commission with
plans to rebuild, which included the addition of a second story, a net
increase of 2000 square feet.
in square footage brought with it a
20-space parking requirement. The city's Zoning Code as then written
would have required Sharkeez to provide 1/4 of the needed spaces on-site - clearly very difficult
for a business on the
March 13 the city council approved a new
07-1278) amending the Zoning Code so that none of the
required spaces would have to be built
on-site. The new ordinance, which will go into effect on April 12
unless stopped by this referendum, will apply to
all businesses on the Plaza. (Note
added August 18: The referendum drive was successful, and the
ordinance was rescinded. For more details, see the Results page.)
that the new ordinance should have been written to give the
"break" only to those projects involving the addition of office or
retail space - not restaurant.
13 hearing, a citizen (not associated with this referendum)
spoke at length about the proposed new ordinance, including this
"It's not a parking
ordinance, it's a permit ordinance to
build another bar and another footprint, vertical or sideways, and let
person get away with no parking. And what that opens up for the
future that anybody on that row that has one can eventually build a
second story, buy
themselves some artificial parking, and build themselves another bar or
"And only in the CUP is it listed that he stay open 'til
midnight. Which can be easily
"So what you've done is given him a parking lot, given him
in-lieu of his parking, given him an ordinance to build another bar
eventually could stay open again with no restrictions."
"Just because he can write a check."
during the hearing, a councilmember spoke of the need to
create an overall plan ("SPA" or
Specific Plan Area) for the Plaza - and about his long-held desire to
so - but conceded that he would still vote for the new ordinance.
who voted against the new ordinance, spoke of his
concern about the process:
"...a couple of my
colleagues have suggested that perhaps at some future
time we can look at this and do it right, but tonight let's just go
slap this together with the holes, scars and warts that it has. Put
this thing out there and see if it
floats. Why? Well, because we've got a
favored business apparently, that someone wants to see have all these
"I have no problem if it was this business, another
business, any business at all down on the pier. All
I'm concerned about is making a bad policy and we are
sitting here tonight and we are going to make a bad policy because we
either don't have the time or the interest to do it right. And I
vote for that. I'll never vote for a policy that is being
done for the simple purpose of expediency or favoritism. I don't know
which it is tonight, but I'm disappointed that we're going to pass an
that is clearly something that is not good for the city because we
the time or the interest to do it correctly."
should the citizens of Hermosa be concerned about the new ordinance, if
most of the council is not?
will apply to the entire Plaza, from The Strand to Hermosa
Avenue. If it is allowed to take
effect, Sharkeez certainly will build their two-story restaurant,
We might also quickly see new applications from other sites on the
Plaza, as predicted by the owner of Sharkeez:
"It's gonna cause a lot of other businesses to upgrade their
businesses." (Beach Reporter, February 22)
He didn't specify which businesses, and what kind of upgrades,
so here's some guesses.
1. The owners of Sharkeez also own the building across the
housing Cafe Bonaparte and Il Boccaccio. It already has a second
floor, which is being used as an office. Under the new ordinance
that could be turned into restaurant space.
2. Under the new ordinance the ground floor retail spaces in the
buildings could be turned into restaurant. One easy
project would be to turn the southeasterly retail space into a dining
room for Paradise
Sushi. (Note added April 15, updated July 25: Make that "a
dining room for the Fishack."
meeting of May 22 the City Council heard a request by Paradise
Sushi for later hours, and turned it down. The July 19 BarFly column in
the Easy Reader noted that the Fishack will be taking over Paradise
March 24 there was a televised Town Hall meeting about the design of
upper Pier Avenue. Members of the public were encouraged to
speak. One speaker, a well-respected local architect and a key
member of the 1992 Rudat committee, spoke for a while about upper
Pier, but ended with a strong caution about the Plaza:
"I'm an architect.
have an office down on [the last block of] 11th Street in Hermosa."
"I've been a long-term resident of the community in the
past. I lived here all through the
eighties and nineties."
"I was on the Rudat committee with Dean of course and so
spent many hours trying to get to a point where we could have an event
in our community. I'm very proud of the
efforts that were put in spearheading the original Rudat program and I
lot of good things came out of it, some things unexpected."
I think we need to continue to try to improve on what
that is, in the upper Pier Avenue area. Conceptually, I think
that upper Pier Avenue has an opportunity to be
developed as a mixed-use corridor. I do
think that people living in the downtown district makes a lot of sense.
It does work in many communities around the Southern
California area. I think we're all
seeing the prudence of many communities, such as European communities,
coast communities with the old brownstones, in Philadelphia, Boston,
forth, where it does work. You can have
live-work facilities like that. It does
"I know that the political will lately has been to not allow
that to happen in the downtown district due to problems in the
enforcement of a
number of things that have occurred down on lower Pier Avenue.
And I think that those are things that really
need to be addressed. And I think that
we're just skirting the issue if we don't think about what does go on
and how we actually can change that for the upper Pier Avenue corridor."
"I'm not a naysayer. I've always been somebody that has been very
involved in my
community. I've been a planning
commissioner in Rolling Hills Estates for 6 years, and an arts
Manhattan Beach for 7 years when I had my business in Manhattan."
"Lastly, I think that there has been a profound setback in
the process by the approval of the Sharkeez project and
expansion. I think that it shows that we don't really
have the proper direction for ourselves in town here."
"My business has been down there. I've watched it. I've
pulled my underage kids out of that
place in the past -- and their friends."
"A leopard doesn't change its spots. Those folks came to me to
develop that building,
because of my knowledge of this city. I
turned it down."