MEN AT WORK: A city work crew builds a trash enclosure on the property where popular eatery Chez Jay sits. (Photo by Daniel Archuleta)

OCEAN AVE — City officials have dropped their appeal of a landmark designation for the parcel that contains the Chez Jay restaurant, opting instead to go to the Landmarks Commission to get permission to continue building a disputed trash enclosure at the end of the property.

City officials could not pursue both the appeal and application for what’s called a “certificate of appropriateness” at the same time, and so decided to go through the commission, said Martin Pastucha, director of Public Works for City Hall.

A construction crew began work on a trash enclosure at the back end of the property before it became a city landmark. By Oct. 19, an appeal had been filed with the Planning Department bearing Pastucha’s signature.

The appeal caused a stir amongst supporters of the Chez Jay landmark designation, which protected the restaurant and the land it sat on from significant changes without permission of the Landmarks Commission.

Attorney Kenneth Kutcher contacted the department, pointing out irregularities with the appeal application like the lack of an explanation for the appeal or even evidence that a filing fee had been paid.

Furthermore, it was unclear if the appeal had been filed on time — the date on the paperwork read Oct. 18, but had been scratched out and written over.

The trash enclosure had been planned for months as a place to gather refuse from the restaurant, adjacent hotel and new park that is currently under construction at the back end of the property.

Owners of Chez Jay were not thrilled with the placement, which stands between the new park and what they hope will be an outdoor dining component to the restaurant.

They are still in limbo. City Hall planned to put the lease for the property out to bid to bring in a restaurant operator that would fit with the new $47 million park.

The restaurant owners planned to apply, but uncertainty over the ownership of the land underneath Chez Jay caused by the loss of the Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency has thrown a wrench into the process.

 

ashley@smdp.com