Visitors enjoy their meals on the expansive outdoor patio at the Zengo restaurant at the Santa Monica Place Dinning Deck on Thursday afternoon. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CITY HALL — Just in time for summer, patrons of several Santa Monica Place restaurants will get to sip cocktails outdoors until 1:30 a.m. rather than moving indoors before the clock strikes midnight.

After much outreach to annoyed neighbors, the newly renovated mall’s managers successfully convinced Planning Commissioners to extend the hours of outdoor drinking to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 12:30 a.m. every other week day.

Before the approval, diners had to order last drinks by 11:30 p.m. and relocate indoors by midnight if they wanted to stay at the restaurant. Restaurants wanted to extend patio drinking hours as a way to attract customers.

“We’re only asking for what we need,” said Julia Ladd, senior property manager at Santa Monica Place.

That’s a change from the last time the proposal came up, when representatives of the mall were pushing for alcohol to be served outdoors until 2 a.m. every night.

The community pushed back, saying that the nearby residences on the Third Street Promenade and the Luxe Apartments held young families and professionals that were disturbed by the raucous patrons.

Power window washers, which get their work going between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., also drew the ire of residents at the March 2 Planning Commission meeting.

An extensive outreach process including meetings, a 24-hour call line and other correspondence that resulted in the compromise position, and a guarantee to buy scrubbing machines to cut down on noise while cleaning, Ladd said.

“We let them know we’re here to be receptive to questions, concerns and want to be their favorite neighbor,” she said.

Kathleen Rawson, CEO of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., spoke in favor of the extensions and praised the efforts of Santa Monica Place to correct its public relations problem.

“It’s an important new part of Downtown, and we want to do what we can to make them successful, but not at the expense of anybody who lives Downtown,” Rawson said.

The extension only applies to seven restaurants — Ozumo, Sonoma Wine Garden, Pizza Antica, La Sandia, Zengo, the Food Court and The Market.

Missing are Xino and True Food Kitchen.

According to a staff report, Xino experienced a noise complaint past midnight in late March, which caused police department vice investigators to stop by to correct the problem.

The police department weighed in on other sources of noise than revelers, suggesting that no live music, amplified music or television be permitted on the patio after midnight.

Commissioner Ted Winterer, who had objected to giving restaurants a pass to make money while residents suffered, approved of the changes.

“I’m very happy with the direction of where this is headed and would like to move it forward,” Winterer said.

The only no vote belonged to Commissioner Jason Parry, who had said at the previous meeting that he could not be moved.

“I don’t think that anything that happens between now and next time we discuss this, whether it’s a fresh application or not, has a bearing,” Parry said on March 2.

He was true to his word.


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