Last summer’s demolition of buildings on the lot of the proposed Melrose Triangle project may be the reason for an uptick in noise complaints in recent months. That was the conclusion drawn from a meeting Tuesday night between Boystown bar/restaurant owners and area residents.
Without the presence of those buildings to block sound, noise is flowing freely into residential areas in the adjacent Norma Triangle neighborhood.
About two dozen people, primarily bar and restaurant owners, attended the meeting initiated by Councilmember Lauren Meister and the city’s Code Compliance division to address an increase in noise complaints in the past six months.
Jackie Rocco, the head of the city’s Public Works division, noted that noise complaints began in late summer/early fall 2019, soon after several buildings in the triangle-shaped area bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue and Almont Drive met the wrecking ball. Those buildings were demolished to make room for the Melrose Triangle office-residential-retail project.
“Perhaps those buildings acted as a buffer,” Rocco said.
A similar situation happened in late 2008 when there was an increase in noise complaints from Norma Triangle residents following the demolition of the Pavilions grocery store building at 8969 Santa Monica Blvd. Once that grocery store was rebuilt, the noise complaints died down, suggesting the Pavilions building blocked noise from reaching the Norma Triangle homes.
Representatives from almost all the major Boystown bars were present for the meeting – The Abbey, Micky’s, Rage, Motherlode, Trunks, Fiesta Cantina, Roccos, Pump, the Troubadour and the Doheny Room. In fact, the Abbey had seven people present, including owner David Cooley.
One resident living several blocks up Hilldale Avenue from Santa Monica Boulevard, said there is a street musician who begins performing in the late night/early morning hours on the northwest corner of Santa Monica and Hilldale. As he uses an amplifier, the music travels uphill, the resident said.. Representatives from Rocco’s restaurant noted that the performer begins about 2 a.m., apparently hoping to collect tips from people as the bars are closing.
Danny Rivas, the city’s code compliance manager, noted that changes in laws from Sacramento allow for street performers and sidewalk vendors as long as they are not blocking the sidewalk or causing tripping hazards with extension cords. However, his staff can cite the performer for the amplified noise.
Rivas reported that his staff has been doing “pro-active sound checks” about midnight in various intersections. Members of the code compliance staff patrol Norma Triangle streets and when they hear noise will phone colleagues on Santa Monica Boulevard, describing the noise they hear. The colleagues then try to find the source of the noise.
“We’re doing sound checks that aren’t initiated by a specific complaint,” Rivas explained to WEHOville. “We’ll go to these intersections, we’re looking to see if we can make out the lyrics of the song or the type of music that’s being played, can we hear the bass . . . We’re doing these from the residential areas where we’re hearing concerns from.”
Rivas and his staff first met with bar and restaurant owners/managers on Nov. 26 to discuss the noise complaints and explain how the city enforces the noise ordinances. He said the owners were receptive to the issue and committed to solving the problems.
Abbey owner David Cooley, who lives in West Hollywood, said that area bars want to be good neighbors and are sensitive to noise complaints. However, he suggested that outside promoters who have no ongoing connection to the city may not be as careful about keeping a check on noise when they come into a club.
“I think [it’s important] the city really makes sure the outside promotors have their licenses and know what the city expects, what the neighbors expect, that the vendors hiring that promotor know what they should be aware of to respect our community,” said Cooley.
The meeting ended after just 20 minutes as there were few residents in attendance. A televised Presidential debate happening at the same time may have kept some residents from attending.
Rivas plans to hold another meeting with bar owners and residents in the spring, likely in April. In the meantime, Rivas was happy with the response from Tuesday’s meeting.
“I think the meeting went great,” Rivas told WEHOville. “From the level of participation from the businesses, they were here and we’re working in partnership. We have some steps to move forward in continuing our efforts.”