Planning Commission Grants Liquor License to Melrose Rooftop Restaurant

The West Hollywood Planning Commission last night approved a request to allow a restaurant planned for the roof of a building at 8715 Melrose Avenue at San Vicente to serve alcoholic beverages.

The approval came in a four-to-one vote, with Commissioner Sheila Lightfoot opposing it.

8715 Melrose Ave., the location of Catch Melrose
8715 Melrose Ave., the location of Catch Melrose
The restaurant, Catch Melrose, will have a menu focused on seafood and be located on the roof terrace, or third floor, of the building. Its request for a permit to serve alcohol was opposed by several area residents who say they had been promised by Jason Illoulian of Faring Capital, the building’s developer, that there would be no rooftop restaurant.

Construction of the three-story building was approved by the City Council in 2012 with the understanding that it would be used for retail and wholesale purposes. The 9,677-square-foot rooftop terrace was to be used as a showroom for outdoor furniture. Illoulian told the Planning Commission last night that his family’s carpet business had originally intended to open a showroom there. For business reasons they changed their minds and Faring rented the top floor and terrace to Catch, a restaurant that also has locations in Dubai, Mexico City and New York City.

Residents opposed to the alcoholic beverage permit said they were concerned that patrons drinking until the restaurant closed at 2 a.m. would generate loud noise that would waken neighbors on Rangely Avenue, which is a residential street a block south. Catch conducted a study of the possible impact of noise and light from the restaurant and agreed to construct a thick glass wall around it to blunt the sound from the restaurant. At last night’s meeting, Mark Birnbaum, whose EMM Group owns Catch, assured the commissioners and residents that there would be no live music at the restaurant.

Another concern raised by residents and echoed by some Planning Commissioners was that the city’s planning staff in March 2014 granted a permit to convert the wholesale space for use as a restaurant without taking the matter before the Planning Commission. Lightfoot, and Commissioners Donald DeLuccio and John Altschul said that request should have been reviewed by the Commission before the request for a liquor permit emerged. However city staff members noted that under the zoning ordinance planning staffers can issue such permits for businesses of less than 10,000 square feet without seeking Planning Commission approval.

Those speaking in favor of the project included Marlon Wayans, the actor and comedian. Wayans, a resident of West Hollywod, said he had often dined at Catch New York and noted that its clientele ranged from celebrities such as LeBron James to Bill Clinton. Other supporters included members of the city’s business community such as Chamber of Commerce President Genevieve Morrill and Darren Gold, chair of the West Hollywood Design District, who noted that the sale of alcohol is essential to profitability in the restaurant business.

Marcel and Mariah Fontijn, who live nearby on Rangely, said they have been bothered by noise from construction of the building and asked that the restaurant be closed earlier than the 2 a.m.

In its approval, the Planning Commission stipulated that city staffers review the situation three months, six months and 12 months after Catch opens to ascertain that its noise abatement efforts are successful.

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Another lone
Another lone "NO" vote.
5 years ago

Sheila LIghtfoot’s “NO” vote plus her other rants are proof that Meister is in over her head in both her appointments and her own initiatives. While the parking plan went down a few times without public input.. her supporters said there needs to be public input on the deputy changeover. Horvath’s proposal on the change of the deputy system was voted on and approved without any amendments. Again Meister was the lone “NO’ vote. Some of Meister’s appointments never stop talking at various meetings and it is especially unbecoming of her Rent Stabilization commissioner to be talking against affordable housing,… Read more »

Manny
Manny
5 years ago

@Steve Martin…..The Commissioners were not asked to vote on “the process” btw…..They were asked to vote on approval or not of a liquor license.

Commissioners are obligated to judge what’s before them based the applicant’s adherence to city codes and regulations. Although this commissioner’s comments regarding the flaws of the current “over the counter process,” (which I agree needs to change) was a fair observation, her no vote was an unfair evaluation of what was before the commission.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

Steve – I watched the meeting. She sounded like if only it were open for lunch she’d support it (a totally irrelevant point). She to me sounded like she was searching for some plausible reason to be a no vote. I am aware of Sheila and her beliefs – she and I sparred at the old WeHoNews. She’s a full time NIMBY. Which is sad, because it is good to have someone asking probing questions and not being an automatic yes. But being a dubious and automatic no like it looks like Meister wanted on many reasonable projects damages her… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
5 years ago

Hey Chris you often make valid points but I was at the meeting and I think you’re being a bit harsh on Shelia Lightfoot. Lightfoot actually wanted to see how Catch could be open for lunch. Her comments on the restaurant were very positive. She only voted against the “process” by which a staff person could approve a change from a retail use to a restaurant use over the counter without Director approval or a public hearing. Just because someone is concerned about potential adverse impacts a business may have on adjacent residents does not make them a NIMBY. Isn’t… Read more »

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

The area north of this restaurant, unlike further east, is not residential. There is a strip of business south of this before a residential street starts. You have a valid point in part, just with minimal relevance to this particular situation.

Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
5 years ago

The 2012 rezoning was part of the carefully crafted plan of the City to rezone, and then call Melrose West “an overlay zone” which does create a new overlay for increased building, But it is not random, coincidence, available to everyone on West Melrose. It just fits the large powerful (i.e. rich) large weho property owners who get what they paid for. THEIR properties get the absurd Oversized New Zoning. Given the fact that despite the most intense congestion on West Melrose, it is nonetheless VERY RESIDENTIAL North and South with people, families and visitors who will suffer more extensively… Read more »

Snarkygal
Snarkygal
5 years ago

You’re STILL going after Heidi, Chris? The election is over. Your guy won. Give it a rest. As for Lightfoot, she thinks the people should have a say over EVERYTHING that goes on in the City. Yes, a bit overboard. I didn’t know she was a Planning Commissioner. Her action on this issue doesn’t surprise me one bit. But for ONE COUPLE to try to stop a restaurant is a bit ridic.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

I watched the pertinent debate. Lightfoot is a one-trick NIMBY obstructionist pony. Maybe she continue to be a minority of one.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

Thx DD – so after pursuing the antidevelopment folks in her campaign she votes opposite the Meister faction. I assumed she would (and also have disappointed her supporters had she won), but it shows again how isolated Meister seems to be.

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
5 years ago

You can always watch Planning Commission meetings (in real time) via the WeHo Web Site by clicking on WeHo Live or if you wish to watch it on some other day. search the archives.

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
5 years ago

Yes, Heidi was there.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

Nice to see the system work. Of course Sheila Lightfoot voted against it. That’s why Meister appointed her.

Heidi Shink is still a commissioner per the WeHo website. Did she show up?