Wednesday night, the Santa Monica Planning Commission approved “on consent” the granting of a conditional use permit to allow Taberna Arros Y Vi, a new restaurant at 1403 Second St. (formerly the Tudor House), to obtain a full bar or a type 47 alcohol license. The Tudor House had a type 41 alcohol CUP/California Alcoholic Beverage Control license which permitted only beer and wine service.
The owners asked to expand seating from 49 to 126 seats, increase the operating hours from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily to 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily and add live entertainment. A request for 12 additional seats outside in front was previously nixed because the space is a public sidewalk, not private property.
The Tudor House was a quaint, low-key, British-themed, gift shop/cafe that appealed to tourists, especially from the U. K., and an older, gentler crowd. Taberna Arros Y Vi portends to be a swinging place with lots of people having a good time ‘til two in the morning. I’d probably recommend it to my friends if I could pronounce its name.
With Ye Olde Kings Head around the corner, it appears that this relatively subdued part of Downtown will soon become a lively extension of the Third Street Promenade. It’s exactly what Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce want.
I think that operations such as Taberna Arros Y Vi will proliferate in the city center. Because of all the hotel and residential developments planned, “food and drink” businesses will be drawn to Downtown like a magnet. This will lead to more traffic and congestion. It’s like a chain reaction.
As sure as God made little green appletinis, there’s going to be more and bigger tapas bars, eateries and watering holes in Downtown Santa Monica’s future.
But, what about neighborhood compatibility?
While the Downtown business and tourism interests and city officials view it as a fun center and a money machine, someone needs to keep in mind that it will be filling up with hundreds of residents moving into the numerous, new, mixed-use buildings now on the drawing boards.
The growth and development being foisted upon us is not limited to hotels and stucco and glass apartment buildings, it’ll also include ramped-up businesses and activities to serve hoards of new, young and hip Downtowners — as well as a growing tourist population.
The big question is, “How are these new residents going to deal with the noise from bars and restaurants until late into the night” — especially if they have young children?
It all reminds me of a hotel I stayed at in Paris a few years ago. With all the nearby bars and eateries on the adjacent Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, it was noisy and loud until dawn. Then the street sweepers showed up. Fun to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
When festive gathering spots became popular, they often turn into neighborhood nuisances. Santa Monica’s history of problems with popular watering holes show that City Hall is slow to react to and learn from bad experiences.
In a few months, the owners of Palihouse on Third Street at Washington Avenue will be before the Planning Commission to request a CUP for alcohol service. The former Embassy Hotel and Apartments was recently purchased by a corporation that owns another Palihouse (hotel for hipsters) in West Hollywood.
I can’t wait to see how the Planning Commission and City Council will handle the application for alcohol by owners of this non-conforming use (with virtually no on-site parking) smack-dab in the center of a residential neighborhood and across the street from a nursing home.
We get letters
A number of readers of late have questioned where I stand on development, asking if I’ve “gone over to the dark side?” I’ll break it down for you.
There will always be development. We each have our own ideas about what is “too big” or undesirable and the types of development we should encourage or reign in.
When I ran for City Council in 2004, I shocked a Chamber of Commerce committee when asked whether I would support high-rise development in Downtown. “I see nothing wrong with a 20-story building if it was well designed and appropriate for the site,” I said.
I still feel that way.
The Miramar renovation, the proposed Frank Gehry-designed hotel and new Wyndham don’t bother me for a number of reasons. I don’t generally go Downtown and I don’t mind tall buildings. These three projects will provide jobs and bring revenue into the community.
Even so, I don’t want to see any more high-rise developers lining up. After these three projects, it’s time for City Hall to close the queue for good.
The real dirty deeds are on street level. Example: City Council’s recent recommendation to increase height limits on Colorado Avenue west of Lincoln Boulevard from 45 feet to 84 feet. This will allow much taller, denser buildings — something that will turn Colorado into a canyon of badly-designed, wall-to-wall apartment buildings.
And, some 30 other housing developments are pending citywide for a total of nearly 4,000 new (voter based) rental units in the next few years.
A couple previous columns come to mind. “Santa Monica’s new Grand Canyon,” Jan. 28; “Many more developments coming,” March 25 and “The monster in our midst,” July 22. Read and enjoy. You’ll see I haven’t “succumbed to the forces of evil.”
Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.