A couple have a meal at Rusty's Surf Ranch. (File photo)

SM PIER – Rusty’s Surf Ranch wants to expand its square footage on the Santa Monica Pier by 46 percent.

Owners of the restaurant and nightclub, which has been open for 30 years, will go before the Planning Commission tonight, requesting a liquor license to cover the additional space and a reduction in the number of parking spaces required under the proposed expansion.

Rusty’s currently has about 4,500 square feet and is looking to add 2,000 more.

This would cover 1,100 square feet of added second-floor patio space and another 1,000 square feet of indoor space on the second floor.

Rusty’s currently seats 183 but that would jump to 384 after the expansion. Banquet seating would jump from 241 to 438 seats.

Rusty’s wants to be allowed to serve alcohol from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, although, according to city officials, “actual operating hours will vary greatly with seasonality and events.”

City planners recommend approving the conditions but the Santa Monica Police Department suggests ratcheting the hours back to 1 a.m. for the outdoor seating areas.

There are several other establishments in the area that can serve booze until 2 a.m., including The Albright, Al Mare, and the Lowes Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

“The pier is the prime location in the city for a nightclub, as it is an entertainment mecca that serves local, regional and tourist interest,” city planners said in their report to the commission.

Rusty’s owners are also requesting a reduced parking permit, which would currently require 32 new parking spaces to accompany the expansion.

City Hall conducted a parking study of the pier in May and August. City planners claim that the study shows that there is enough parking on the pier to accommodate Rusty’s expansion.

There were two hours the Sunday before Memorial Day when the lot was packed. There was also an hour on the Sunday prior to Labor Day during which the lot was completely full.

In all other instances, planners said, there was adequate parking available to meet Rusty’s new needs.

Denny’s replacement

The Planning Commission will also consider the project slated to replace the Denny’s restaurant on Lincoln Boulevard at the corner of Colorado Avenue.

A 5-story, 98,800-square-foot mixed-use project is expected to take the diner’s place.

It would include 100 residential units, 13,100 square feet of ground floor retail, and 221 parking spaces in a three-level underground garage.

Twenty of the units would be labeled affordable.

Fifth Street apartments

The same applicant that is seeking to replace the Denny’s, NMS, will present its plans for a 6-story mixed-use building on Fifth Street between Santa Monica Boulevard and Broadway.

The space is currently occupied by 15,000 square feet of commercial space in a 2-story building.

The new project would add 64 residential units and 7,784 square feet of commercial space in an 84-foot-tall, 52,239-square-foot building.

Twelve of the units would be labeled affordable.

The Planning Commission meets Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

dave@www.smdp.com

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