1940 or 2014?
Our city planners think it’s 1940

Abbot Kinney is paying a big price for old city decisions that lacked foresight. Decisions made in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s are hammering our community now. None of the original commercial buildings on Abbot Kinney have parking spaces or off-street loading areas. The city is still making the same planning decisions in 2014 as they did in 1940. What are they thinking? Blind to the community’s chaotic, dangerous truck traffic and car congestion, they ignore golden and obvious opportunities to completely eliminate the ‘grandfather’ parking rules. They are not requiring almost totally new projects and major remodels to meet 2014 parking requirements nor do they insist that truck loading be off-street. Thoughtful courageous decisions by city planners now would stop exacerbating our traffic and parking problems. They must apply conditions on permits which reflect community realities now.

Commercial remodel permits and change-of-use applications have been awarded in
stupefying numbers on Abbot Kinney Blvd. this year. None have added parking. Permits to change a property’s use to retail or food service should never be allowed without adding parking. The extreme intensification of use on Abbot Kinney is destroying adjacent neighborhoods wreaking havoc, creating parking chaos and traffic congestion.

It is time to push back on developers. We must insist that all commercial change-of-use remodels and new project permits are issued without parking exemptions.

IT’S URGENT! insist NOW that the city enact a moratorium for all commercial Change-of-Use applications that don’t conform to 2014 parking rules! Read on for a blow-by-blow description of the assault we are under right now.

The former World Gym is undergoing major expansion, renovation and a change-of-use includes a new restaurant/bar. It’s consultants are expecting city approval for a huge number of ‘virtual’ phantom parking spaces. This project has the space to provide and meet 2014 parking requirements. The proposed hotel project covers a near city block of land yet all of their truck deliveries will load and unload on our streets. We are wondering why? Both of these projects will severely impact surrounding residential neighborhoods with increased traffic.

Gjelina expanded seating and never provided required parking. Worse, they opened a ‘take-out’ restaurant and did not provide any parking for it either—THEIR CONSULTANTS KNOW IF THEY JUST DO IT, THEY WILL WIN AND GET TO KEEP OPERATING. WHY?

The ‘Gjelina effect’ on Electric Avenue will repeat itself all around 320 Sunset Avenue. Gjelina’s ‘bakery’ change-of-use application is cruising through the city approval process claiming ‘virtual’ parking credits. They already declared their intent to put a full-service restaurant and bar in this M-1 location. An attempt to get this approved by flying below the local neighborhood approval process failed. Once they get approval for a change-of-use and the baloney 20 ‘virtual’ parking spaces, it won’t be long before you see their ABC license application posted. This operator knows no bounds. They envision this quiet location as the ultimate expansion opportunity as they open up at the front door of the Google operation. More will come as the floodgates open. The residents and the neighborhood be damned! They are going for it! Another stealth Gjelina expansion is sure to come on their Abbot Kinney/Santa Clara property which they just purchased for 4 million dollars! Expanding the yet uncompleted small restaurant and bar by using the adjacent property for a large outside patio is a reasonable scenario as they could get a restaurant expansion by claiming they don’t need to provide parking just for an outside patio. This will be another under parked Gjelina slamming the entire neighborhood again.

The bold Gjelina encroachment into the Sunset area M-1 neighborhood filled with workshops, artists and small homes must be stopped. This quiet neighborhood does not have a single restaurant, bar or retail shop. If Gjelina gets a permit to be the first retail shop/restaurant/bar another unique neighborhood will be gone forever. Is Gjelina laying the ground work for Hampton to become the next Abbot Kinney?

More parking exceptions are already in the application pipeline. Right now Pork Belly sandwich ‘take-out’ has applied for an outside patio claiming no neighborhood impact.
1136 Abbot Kinney has an application submitted for change-of-use and a big expansion. Will it have the required parking?

Councilman Bonin’s office needs to to get involved and influence City Planning to apply the rules of 2014 for all commercial projects. Allow no exceptions. Ask him to drive an action with the city for a moratorium on all change-of-use commercial permits which will not have 2014 parking. The Coastal Commission sounded the alarm last month. It reversed course and decided not to allow any more de minimis waivers for Venice building permits. They reflected on how they did not do enough over the years to protect Mendocino’s unique culture. They recognize Venice has lots to protect and their de minimis waiver restriction was a very good and strong first step to begin to do that. Our unique culture and our one-of-a-kind community is facing irrevocable losses if wild west development is allowed to continue.

We need a city moratorium now. It needs to be the next bold action to protect our community. Write our councilman and ask for his support and focus to get that done before it is too late.

Write to Mike Bonin

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