WeHo Planning Commission Declines to Rescind Cooleys Permit But Does Reduce Park Exposure

Cooley's as seen from West Hollywood Park
Cooley’s as seen from West Hollywood Park

The back patio of the new gastropub planned at 8934-8940 Santa Monica Blvd. in the Boystown section of West Hollywood by Abbey owner David Cooley must be 50 percent smaller according to ruling made by the city’s Planning Commission Thursday night.

After a meeting lasting more than three and a half hours, the commission voted 6-1 to require that the depth of the proposed 2,900 square foot patio overlooking West Hollywood Park be reduced 50 percent.

Commissioner Marc Yeber said he was concerned about the effect that a restaurant serving alcohol that overlooked the park would have on park goers, especially children. Similar concerns were expressed by nearly half of the 31 people who commented to the commission about Cooleys. Yeber was especially concerned how the restaurant, the first commercial establishment to open onto the park, might affect the upcoming $80 million Phase II of the park’s renovations.

“I’m not comfortable with the open patio until we understand its relationship to the park,” he said. Yeber also demanded the patio be fully enclosed to shield park users from its noise.

The rest of the commission opted for a retractable roof instead. Yeber, unhappy with the retractable roof, then voted against the item.

Alfredo Diaz, owner of the Revolver video bar at 8851 Santa Monica Blvd. at Larrabee Street, brought the matter before the commission, appealing a December ruling approving Cooley’s restaurant made by the Community Development Director. However the commission did not grant Diaz’ request to rescind the permit that would allow construction of Cooleys.

Diaz is not yet sure whether he will appeal the Planning Commission’s ruling to the City Council.

“We needed to have a vigorous open public debate about this,” he said. “This shouldn’t be a scenario where the architects design our $80 million park around a developer. It should be the other way around.”

Cooley also is not sure whether he will appeal the ruling.

“They’re going to figure our their options and figure out what happens next,” Brian Rossman, spokesperson for Cooley told WEHOville. “We’re genuinely pleased that the commissioners supported their project.”

  1. the comments supporting Cooleys largely centered around the park view, watching kids play, etc.
    Get a clue people. Has anyone actually visited the site ? There is a fence that is being filled with greenery a row of sycamore trees before the designated. One cannot view the kids from this space.
    I do not think it attractive to walk in the park with the prospect of noise emanating from a bar/restaurant.
    KUDOS to Alfredo !

  2. This is really too bad! I’ve often thought about how much of a waste it is to have the ugly back alley-side of the buildings along the park. It seems that it would be so much more cosmopolitan to integrate classy, well designed patios opening out onto the park — bringing the enjoyment of the open space (if even just the view) to far more people than just the park visitors themselves.

    Plus, I believe this type of integration would benefit the park as well — it would make it feel more vibrant and it could even have the effect of making the park feel larger by visually extending the borders.

    As for “the children” — puhleese! What children are going to be awake and using the park during any hours that might get even a little bit rowdy!? We’re not talking about having Micky’s go-go boys dancing on the wall to the park here. If anything, why not allow the patio and integration and simply regulate the use to disallow any crazy stuff?!

  3. No issue with businesses. But I lived at Robertson and Melrose for 18 years, lots on Robertson changed for the better but lots for the worse. You literally cannot navigate these narrow sidewalks when lines form outside the Abbey, Here and across the street. I remember tg Abbey wss supposed to be setback, so their lines wouldn’t be on the sidewalk. Guess what happened? The velvet roles took over and we walk in the street. Businesses can’t take over the neighborhood. Coexist.

  4. Thanks SL for also bringing up the fact that this patio is going to be constructed behind the basketball courts, it is not like this patio is going to be encroaching on the tiny tots sandbox. It is on the far edge of the park where currently a homeless man (often shirtless) is camped out most days on a small grassy knoll watching various men playing basketball (often shirtless). Won’t anybody think of the children?!

  5. First, I think the Planning Commissioners should have the intelligence and nerve to make a decision once and be able to stick by it. Second, the park should be allowed to evolve, not stay stuck in our Councilmembers vision as a wonderful, safe place for the children. The children who live and play in the urban environs of West Hollywood have seen far worse, I imagine, than adults sitting outside having an adult drink. And, I remind everyone that this patio will largely be behind the basketball courts that are within the boundaries of the park, and their own source of noise.

  6. By the same logic about hypothetically protecting children in the park from seeing go go dancers and drunken revelers at Cooley’s, Revolver should not have an outside space nor large windows as any innocent child who is walking along SM blvd would be able to see inside and see the go go dancers there. Save the children!

  7. Good job planning commission!! I hope Cooley’s can be open in time for Summer so I can sit on the back patio and watch the kids play in the park. People need to stop bashing Cooley’s and realize it replacing a porn shop, under used dance studio and a watch shop with an very beautifully designed bar and restaurant. Most any other city would be thrilled to have such a cool addition to their city.

  8. Children safe from the bars? This is a non-issue. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen couples pushing their little ones in strollers or holding their little hands while walking casually down SMB in the middle of the day…especially on a Sunday. I agree with 90069 whole heartedly. Grown-ups drinking and having a good time is nothing to be ashamed of. And, BTW when did Weho start to become a prude?

  9. What exactly are we shielding the children from? WeHo of all places should know this puritain style of authority only creates a more crazed and depraved society. Children will not be scandalized by seeing grown adults drinking or heaven forbid a shirtless man gyrating. I may want to relax in the park AND enjoy some eye candy. Children will be too busy eating dirt and talking to themselves to be bothered with it.

  10. David Cooley is a visionary and his vision, innovation and dedication has made The Abbey an icon, recognized around the world and synonymous with West Hollywood. Today, we cannot imagine Weho without “The Abbey” and I predict that someday we will feel the same about “Cooley’s”.

    This stretch of SMB desperately needs to be revitalized and that means a business that is a “traffic draw”, a destination venue that will attract a new audience and offer additional incentive for existing patrons to stimulate both daytime and evening economies. Cooley’s Gastro Pub will be that draw, a concept that is interesting, unique, diverse in appeal and with the funding needed to ensure sustainability. Cooley’s will bring these much needed new customers and fresh publicity to the area benefiting neighboring retail merchants, bars, clubs and restaurants as well.

    David and his architects have worked closely with Community Development and Weho agencies to execute a concept that is a thoughtful compliment to the Park and an exciting addition to the area. David Cooley has a track record of success and his reputation exemplifies quality, dedication and integrity. His commitment to our community is unparalleled and The Abbey’s history of compliance to codes and consideration for neighboring residents and businesses is consummate. As for last night’s Planning Commission meeting; other than Mr. Altschul and Mr. Heubner, the Commissioners did not appear to have done their due diligence and throughout discussions on this item the group appeared confused and disorderly.

    The restaurant business is tough enough and we should embrace this quintessential Weho entrepreneur for his desire to continue investing in our community. The Planning Commission overstepped its’ authority in ordering the size of Cooley’s patio to be reduced, thus creating an undue hardship and severely jeopardizing the business’s potential for success and longevity.

  11. I love when anything is framed in the context of what is best ‘for the children’.
    Just what impact will this nightclub have on children, who, even in west hollywood, should be home in bed?
    Nobody cares about what children see along a ridiculous parade route in broad daylight…

    It just goes to show that this planning commission operates on emotion and perception, and not carefully considered code and established precedent.
    Having watched these meetings, the gassy and pompous nature of several of the members is indication enough of how flawed the process is.
    Cooley’s will get everything it wants, and west hollywood will play ball every step of the way. So glad to hear that Cooley’s spokeshole is pleased that the commission supports the project. Why even hold the hearing?

  12. All the comunity should be involved when it concerns all the citizens of weho and Archult is so bias iits amazing time for him to go and the tavern on the green is fully enclosed as I have been there often ,,,looks like what cooly wants cooly gets

  13. There’s kind of a lack of foresight with these planners on limiting the exposure to the park. Why not utilize it for this unique purpose? There are plenty of other parks in the area that don’t abut an epicenter of gay nightlife. Not everything needs to be about the children – especially in a place like West Hollywood.

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