The West Hollywood Planning Commission has endorsed, with some modifications, a proposal by Palihouse to expand its restaurant to its lobby and rooftop, where it also could serve alcohol.
At its meeting last night, commissioners disagreed with some requirements suggested by the city’s Community Development Department staff and asked that it return with a revised proposal for the Commission’s approval. Among the changes requested by the Commission were giving Palihouse permission to play amplified music on the rooftop and not requiring it to limit the rooftop furniture to standard restaurant-height chairs and tables. The Community Development staff had recommended that recorded music not be allowed so as to prevent noise that might upset the Palihouse’s residential neighbors and that the hotel not be allowed to use bar-style tables and chairs on the rooftop to reinforce the idea that the area was not to be used as a bar.
The Commission also agreed to modify a requirement that Palihouse install a seven-foot glass wall around all sides of the rooftop dining area, arguing that a wall shouldn’t be required on the south side of the roof, which faces commercial property.
The decision came in a six to one vote, with Commissioner Sheila Lightfoot voting no. Lightfoot objected to the rooftop expansion of the restaurant, citing claims by local residents that noise from Palihouse caused problems for them. The rooftop area already is open for hotel guests, but no food or alcohol is served there.
One of two neighbors who spoke against the Palihouse proposal was Susana Lagudis, who lives nearby at 1124 La Cienega. “In its eight years of operation the Palihouse has shown itself to be neither a good neighbor or member of the community… ,” Lagudis said. She said the hotel has held exercise classes on the roof with instructors using bullhorns and that sound from the restaurant in the building’s courtyard, which is in the center of the hotel and has no roof, can be heard by neighbors. Another neighbor, who identified himself as a writer, said the noise from Palihouse is so great that sometimes he has to leave his home to write.
Daniel Mick, the city’s code compliance supervisor, said the city had discovered that Palihouse had installed an unauthorized bar and bathroom on the rooftop and made the hotel remove it. Mick said that Palihouse also had been illegally using some of its 22 apartment units for short-term rentals. He said the city had forced Palihouse to stop doing that in July. Mick said the city has identified only two complaints from residents about noise from Palihouse in the last few years.
Mick also was questioned by Commission members about EP & LP, another rooftop restaurant which opened last Spring at Melrose Avenue at La Cienega, Mick said there have been a number of complaints about loud noise there. “We have effectively stopped all special events permits to get them back in line,” Mick said, referring to the once-monthly permit granted to an entertainment establishment or restaurant that allows it to stay open later that usually permitted and to allow live or amplified recorded music.
The Commission asked that the city review Palihouse’s compliance with city noise rules six months after the rooftop restaurant is opened and that the Commission review the situation after 12 months.