I was excited to hear that someone was going to renovate the classic, 1937-era Telephone Building at 1314 Seventh St. in Downtown. Alcohol permits have been applied for in conjunction with two proposed high-end eateries at the location.

A 4,748-square-foot restaurant, the Seventh Street Bistro, will have 242 seats (170 indoor and 72 outdoor dining seats) and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner service. The applicant is requesting a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow a Type 47 (on sale – general) alcohol license.

A Type 47 CUP has also been requested for a smaller, adjacent 2,150-square-foot “hybrid” restaurant with 86 seats (49 indoor and 37 outdoor.) This will be a “a full-service restaurant, wine bar, and retail store with wine, beer, and food. The primary purpose of the business is to provide sit-down meal service with a heavy concentration on wine service,” reads the staff report for the Wednesday evening Planning Commission meeting

The smaller establishment, currently named Seventh Street Caf√©, will feature a retail component that will offer “the sale of wine, beer, and specialty gourmet retail items such as sandwiches, snack foods, and salads” for consumption off site and “is an example of the new hybrid of uses that have provided enhanced dining experiences and retail options for customers.”

Ummm. It all sounds good to me. The area around Seventh Street and Arizona Avenue could use excitement and new activity. However, there’s a fly in the cabernet sauvignon and that’s the old bugaboo: parking.

Current code requires restaurants to have one parking space for every 75 feet of customer dining area. The total seating for these two projects is 328 customers. Staff reports that the smaller “hybrid” restaurant requires 13 parking spaces which will be on site adjacent to the Telephone Building which has no underground parking.

Code says the larger restaurant requires 34 parking spaces — of which eight will be provided on-site and the remaining 26 required parking spaces will be on a private parking lot “across the alley…” Add the employees required for the two operations and it’s obvious that well over 100 parking spaces should be required for the project, not 47.

The problem is that the owner of the surface lot “across the alley,” NMS Properties, has plans to develop the site into a seven floor, mixed-use building. However, Phillip Orosco, managing director of Pacshore Partners, LLC (owner of the Telephone Building) assures me that he has signed lease arrangements for adequate parking space for the entire building at many surrounding parking lots including NMS’s site “across the alley” — including the subterranean garage when their new building (on Sixth Street) is built.

Between the two eateries plus the needs of all the other building tenants, it’s obvious there should be a couple hundred parking spots required. Luckily for everyone, it sounds like Orosco has more than met the parking challenge on his own.

I asked associate planner Rachel Dimond who is assigned to this application, how a telephone central office-turned-bistro could be considered for a “grandfathered parking allowance” requiring only 34 spaces. She e-mailed me that the larger restaurant qualifies for a parking credit because “in a commercial zone district … the former use (a telephone exchange) has not been in operation for 12 months. Thus, the (restaurant) project was provided a one space per 300 square foot credit …”

No wonder we have parking problems around Downtown. It would appear that once again, the planning department is playing with the numbers in order to encourage new developments that have woefully inadequate parking facilities.


Remembering Roger Later


I’m sad — and a little late — to report that Roger Dillon Later passed away on Aug. 11, 2013 at the age of 86.

Roger was born in Santa Monica on Feb. 4, 1927 and grew up in Santa Monica and Venice. He graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1945 and joined the Navy where he served at weather stations in the Aleutian Islands for a year.

After his Naval stint, he returned to Southern California where he attended and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in heating and air conditioning engineering.

He started Later Engineering and his firm’s clients included industrial accounts from all over the world as well as locally. He also owned a sister firm that serviced, repaired and maintained heating and air conditioning systems. That business held numerous contracts with the city of Santa Monica over the years.

Later enjoyed mentoring young people and was a long-time member of the Santa Monica YMCA. He and his wife of 65 years, Evelyn Carson Later, loved to travel the world together with their five children — Roger, Terence, Angela, Janet and Cyndy. They especially enjoyed hiking and camping. There are 14 grandchildren. A brother, Ralph Later and a sister, Sue Tieman also survive.

I’d known Roger for about five years. We would ride the stationary bicycles together early in the morning at the “Y.” Roger had a keen sense of humor and a razor sharp wit. He was a vast storehouse of stories, jokes, anecdotes and reminisces. We enjoyed swapping stories about the nefarious happenings and intrigues at City Hall.

Roger always had an interesting and enlightening take on any and all subjects. He was unique, energetic and a joy to be around — a person who was impossible to forget.

Roger is deeply missed by all who knew him.




Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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