WeHo City Council Rejects Appeal of Plan for Food and Drinks on Palihouse Rooftop

The rooftop at Palihouse West Hollywood

The West Hollywood City Council last night rejected an appeal of a Planning Commission decision last September to grant the Palihouse hotel the right to serve food and alcohol on the rooftop of its building, which is located at 8465 Holloway Drive between Hacienda Place and La Cienega.

The appeal was brought by neighbors of the hotel, over 100 of whom have signed a petition opposing the decision by the Planning Commission last September. That decision also lets Palihouse play amplified music on the rooftop.

In its approval, the Planning Commission had rejected suggestions by the city’s Community Development Department staff that Palihouse not be allowed to play amplified music on the roof and that its rooftop furniture be limited to the standard height of restaurant tables and chairs rather than those used in bars. The Planning Commission also modified a requirement that Palihouse install a seven-foot glass wall around all sides of the rooftop dining area, arguing that a wall shouldn’t be required on the south side of the roof, which faces commercial property. The rooftop area already is open for hotel guests, but no food or alcohol is served there.

Susana Lagudis, vice president of the association representing homeowners at the nearby 1124 N. La Cienega Blvd. condo building, objected to the fact that Palihouse will be able to serve food and alcohol from noon until 10 p.m. daily and that a live DJ will be allowed to perform in the first floor restaurant until 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The ground floor restaurant has no roof, which makes it possible for sound from that area to be heard above the building.

Lagudis argued that, in failing to reject the Planning Commission’s decision, the City Council would be “rewarding bad behavior on the part of the Palihouse Hotel.”

Lagudis cited various violations of city ordinances since Palihouse opened in 2008. “For example, they constructed and operated an unpermitted freestanding bar and bathroom on the hotel rooftop – we personally witnessed these being built from our bedroom window,” she said. “The illegal bar and bathroom were only decommissioned for daily service to hotel patrons when they were caught.

Palihouse has 20 hotel rooms and 17 units designated as condos. The city granted Palihouse permission to build four floors rather than the stipulated three in exchange for its agreement to add those 17 units to West Hollywood’s housing stock. But, Lagudis said, “the Palihouse also violated their density bonus by making use of residential units as short-term rentals, a fact that staff acknowledge in their report.“

Jeff Aubel, the city’s code compliance manager, acknowledge that the city had warned Palihouse to stop short-term rentals, which the city defines as rentals for fewer than 30 days. Matt Fisher, an executive from Paligroup, which owns the hotel, acknowledged to the Council last night that some of those units had been rented for fewer than 30 days. Now none are being rented out fewer than 30 days he said. Mayor Lauren Meister, however, said she had seen a short-term rental listing of a Pailhouse condo unit posted on the Tripadvisor website in January.

Lagudis said that the 12 special events that Palihouse now conducts on the rooftop each year, which are permitted by the city, “already detrimentally impacts the character and integrity of the neighborhood and generates significant noise impacts that are experienced throughout the surrounding buildings from La CIenega Blvd. on the west through to Hacienda Place on the east. “

She challenged the validity of a sound study submitted by Palihouse as evidence that it wouldn’t produce ambient sound annoying to neighbors.

Meister  and City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath supported the residents’ appeal. Meister said she isn’t convinced that Palihouse isn’t still using its condos for short-term rentals. And she noted that Palihouse had put bathrooms and a bar on the roof without permission in the past.

Councilmember John Duran opposed the appeal. He said that any past bad behavior by Palihouse couldn’t be considered in reviewing the appeal. He noted that the Planning Commission approval calls for a six-month and a 12-month review of whether Palihouse is complying with city requirements.

Councilmember John D’Amico also opposed the appeal. He noted that there also are rooftop bars and/or restaurants on other buildings such as the Mondrian hotel, which has the Skybar; the SoHo House and EP & LP and Catch restaurants. Meister argued that EP & LP and Catch, and the roof of the Palihouse, are lower than the SoHo House and more likely to expose nearby residents to noise. She said she gets many complaints about that.

Councilmember John Heilman recused himself because he lives near the Palihouse. The the vote split two to two, the Planning Commission decision remained in place.

CORRECTION:  An earlier version of this story failed to note that Councilmember Lindsey Horvath also supported the appeal against permitting Palihouse to serve food and drinks on its roof. The story has been updated to correct that.

0 0 vote
Article Rating

14 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
shawn
shawn
3 years ago

Its really simple. When 100 residents are ignored. The city council isn’t doing the peoples work

Larry Block
Larry Block
3 years ago

Important Correction: Heilman recused himself because he lives within 500 feet on La Cienega. Tom Smart, you knew that right? John Duran and John D’Amico voted in favor of the project, while Lindsey asked for an approval on the downstairs and wait and see on the roof, — and in the end Lindsey and Lauren voted against it. The two Johns voted for it. A 2-2 score means the appeal was denied. PEOPLE- learn the rules. The planning commission voted 6-1 (I think) in favor of the project. The appellant appealed to the city council. The appellant has the responsibility… Read more »

Code Compliance Weak Link
Code Compliance Weak Link
3 years ago

It’s not Council that fails, it’s invariably code compliance. This has their fingerprints all over it and hopefully Mayor Meister will dig in and demand an overhaul of the department. What with “Mr. Voice Over” sandbagger who fudges on Mills Act violations and was instrumental in the El Mirador debacle to the top brass. Nice, better to not kick up too much dust that might impede one’s retirement benefits. This strategy may be wider spread. The longer the residents are compelled wait for resolution the better chance they will retreat.

This bad behavior scenario needs to become an example.

Bechamel
Bechamel
3 years ago

Council has once again failed our city – both residents and commercial entities will suffer. This unfortunate result suggests again that both Council and Commission members haven’t educated themselves about managing urban development. The process shouldn’t be so divisive, nor should 100 residents be ignored and there were technical solutions. Evidently the Planning Department does not understand how the Palihouse problems are solved. Nor has the Planning Department stepped forward to recommend better standards. The solutions might cost more, but that may be the price of doing business in West Hollywood. It is in other towns where things like this… Read more »

JJ
JJ
3 years ago

and it’s up to the residents to make sure they CALL CODE ENFORCEMENT when they hear the music. So many people hear it and are annoyed by it but never take the time to make the call and so these things just keep happening. If enough people complain when it’s happening, there will be a record and once there is a record of these kind of complaints, the harder it will be for the Commission/Council to approve more of them.

WeHoMikey
WeHoMikey
3 years ago

Hank – who voted yay, who voted nay?

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin
3 years ago
Reply to  WeHoMikey

Councilmember Lauren Meister voted in support of the appeal. The others voted against it

JJ
JJ
3 years ago

I don’t think the Council realizes how sound can travel. In the Norma Triangle last week we had to endure multiple nights of loud music coming from the courtyard at the PDC that was permitted to have some sort of fashion event. The music traveled up hill, unobstructed and could loudly be heard throughout our neighborhood. Code Enforcement was contacted and they said they spoke the the people in charge of the event but the same issue arose the following night. Any event held in that courtyard should be made to have some sort of sound mitigation. Exposed speakers blasted… Read more »

Shawn Thompson
Shawn Thompson
3 years ago

of course they approved it. They never listen to the residents. They say sorry, so sorry the laws we approved say yes

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
3 years ago

Council members should be forced to live next to such a building for at least a year to know how bad the quality of life is from such venues.

Webuilthiscity
Webuilthiscity
3 years ago

Relax. You have bigger fish to fry on Sunset.

jeffery ward
jeffery ward
3 years ago

The photo with the article clearly shows numerous violations, I wonder if someone has forwarded this information to the ABC guys, it isn’t that I am such a prude, it is that if you make a deal then you should stick with your deal, if not then you should have taken your building elsewhere, and no, this isn’t a matter of who has rooftop bars and who doesn’t, it is a matter of what you promised and now you want to not live up to your end of the deal, I mean things like this already takes away from other… Read more »

jj
jj
3 years ago

Fantastic news! Residents on Hacienda Place right next to the hotel are sure to appreciate all that extra noise and booming, loud music. Way to look out for the residents of Weho, City Council!