Letters to the Editor: The Abbey gets too many blessings from the city – by J. R. Miller

Patrons of The Abbey make use of the newly closed-off portion of Robertson Blvd. on the event’s inaugural weekend in April 2021.

West Hollywood prides itself on standing for equality. All of our big aspirations and peaceful protests are about equality. However, is it equitable to ALL of the businesses and residents in WeHo to give the Abbey Bar & Food approximately 2000 square feet of city owned street real estate (with a market rent value of about $15,000 per month) to expand their business operation for 36 hours per week?

The arm twisting was sold to council as an opportunity for restaurants (plural) to expand on the city’s Dine Out program which originally allowed businesses to further encroach on to city property and operate their business.

The Robertson Blvd. Dine Out expansion is a complete overreach benefiting only ONE business: The Abbey.

Its owner, Mr. Cooley (who always plays the victim card when it comes to his business) somehow convinced city council to a trial program with little-to-no input from the residents or other businesses of all types. Nonsensical rhetoric about creating and saving jobs and being a champion of the overall community convinced councilmembers to get sucked in to the selfish plea. Even WeHo’s Mayor Horvath stopped by the Abbey on Sunday Funday to take the microphone to congratulate the Abbey, saying that only David Cooley could have accomplished this, while also campaigning for her bid for County Supervisor next year. Possibly, a little “Quid Pro Quo” for free microphone time and sucking up to a potential corporate donor. Saturday night proved to be another “Spectacle de Caca” for the entire area and a traffic nightmare for all.

Did the other bars and restaurants get exclusive use of a city access alley and closure of a public street in order to expand their businesses? I don’t think so.

Residents, motorists, and neighboring businesses must pay the price for the inconvenience.

While this was sold as an expansion to the Dine Out program, none of the other Dine Out locations in WeHo required street closures, 36 hours per week of city traffic patrol personnel and vehicles, roadclosures, and other inconveniences.

Ultimately, when the county moves back into a “green” zone and businesses are fully able to re-open, will The Abbey request to maintain its commandeering of the city street on a permanent basis?

This is unfair to everyone involved. Unfair to other similar businesses, unfair to residents, unfair to motorists, and unfair to WeHo taxpayers. Many city taxpayers are not in favor of using city dollars for the benefit of one sole business. Even a farmers market benefits all of the vendors.

Everyone in WeHo would like to see the maximum success of its businesses, but not solely for the benefit of one, and to the detriment of everyone else. Let’s demonstrate some equity.

—J.R. Miller

UPDATE:

“David Cooley had no knowledge of the Out Zone project on Robertson until it was introduced by Council and appeared as an agenda item. It was entirely a surprise to him. Once he found out about it, of course, he was for it. At his expense, he invested to beautify Robertson which is mostly a boarded up abandoned street. According to the City of West Hollywood’s website, “more than 60 businesses have been approved for temporary outdoor expansion permits.” While The Abbey was the only business who took part in the first week of “Out on Robertson,” other businesses on Robertson and other vendors have already committed to join and make it a success.”

Brian Rosman,
Spokesperson for The Abbey

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willy
willy
12 days ago

I wish they would do this for an actual gay bar.

Steve
Steve
15 days ago

This whole setup is obviously designed for the sole benefit of David Cooley’s bank account. What does his “spokesman” mean by they will encourage other businesses to participate? Who? Do they expect Louboutin to set up a table and give out free samples? Sur Restaurant is NOT in the zone. Tortilla Republic is NOT in the zone. However Anawalt Lumber is and if I were them I would sue for having my business access blocked.

Vigilant
Vigilant
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve

City Council members continue to make lame proposals without the foggiest idea if they are logical, feasible or how to implement them. That is a critical waste of time and resources. Cutting staff to the quick may be a reality and if so they could operate with a skeleton crew if only they were accurate and see beyond the four corners of their screens. Folks this is a postage stamp of a city!

JJ1
JJ1
15 days ago

We all know it benefits ONE business and ONE business ONLY – The Abbey. I don’t understand how the other businesses are not uniting against this preferential treatment the city is showing to this business?! David Cooley *always* plays the victim. No knowledge of the idea. until it was introduced by Council..what a joke. There are no other restaurants within this “zone.” Congrats David..you got what you wanted…for now. And while you’re at it, can you make sure your staff doesn’t place those big ass speakers on the street blasting music. Thank you – your neighbors that actually live here.

Vigilent
Vigilent
15 days ago
Reply to  JJ1

Does anyone tell the truth here or are folks simply content to live in the nether world of smoke, mirrors, facades and a faded party town

hifi5000
hifi5000
16 days ago

There are a lot of people on here complaining that the West Hollywood city council do not listen to its own residents.

To remedy this,perhaps these citizens should write and directly contact these councilpersons instead for huffing that the council do not listen to them on this comment section.

The council can’t hear you if you complain amongst yourselves.

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
16 days ago
Reply to  hifi5000

Well, many of us have written to each member and the city manager. Fair chance the “complainers “ as you call them far outvote the supporting letters.

JJ1
JJ1
15 days ago
Reply to  hifi5000

There are a lot of residents who have emailed their complaints directly with the council, and have even taken the time to show up to city council meetings to make their voices heard and sometimes – even with very strong neighborhood opposition to certain items or ideas – they don’t listen to the people. They have their own agenda.

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
17 days ago

Hopefully Horvarth will be moving on soon, she doesn’t understand fiduciary responsibility. It makes zero sense to listen to only one person who financially benefits himself. Two large groups are being ignored: local residents that elect the council members, and all WeHo taxpayers footing the bill for the additional traffic control on the SMB/Robertson corner. On early Sunday morning, instead of usual parking patrols in our area, there were 3 or 4 enforcement vans sitting outside The Abbey stopping drivers turning off Santa Monica.

Vigilent
Vigilent
17 days ago

Arbitrary decisions disproportionately affect all residents and are not the path toward harmony. Doesn’t the city proclaim to promote harmony rather that divisiveness?

Scott Sigman
Scott Sigman
17 days ago

I hope the city allows my company to sell product in a booth on the street since we have no fixed store front just a website. I think more streets should take turns being closed for small periods of time for small brick and mortars to shoiw wares and web stores to show wares. I se progress. I have never been to the abbey but went to Louies Bottega when I had a loft downtown. Why are sections of Santa Monica closed for a night other than the Halloween or Parade. Help your business partners in WEHO-home made vendors small… Read more »

Ms. Auto Show 1969
Ms. Auto Show 1969
17 days ago

Call the wwaaaaaambulance!

Last edited 17 days ago by Ms. Auto Show 1969
Kimberly S. Winick
Kimberly S. Winick
17 days ago

It is an insult to our intelligence to contend that expanding access for the Abbey, while reserving half the street for emergency vehicle access (so where are the other touted potential uses to be?) promotes, cycling, more pedestrians, or anything but the interests of the Abbey.

Last edited 17 days ago by Kimberly S. Winick
Scott
Scott
17 days ago

Did you actually check it out? While Abbey’s outdoor seating did take up much of the newly-opened street, most of it was being utilized as an urban plaza, certainly promoting walking and potentially cycling.

I would like to see other businesses utilize the new Robertson plaza as well so that it isn’t perceived as such an Abbey-centric endeavor, but that first weekend was a huge success.

Manny
Manny
16 days ago
Reply to  Scott

I prefer to do my biking on the multitudes of BikePaths all over LA. Doing circles on an empty block doesn’t do it for me. I prefer my walking on the super wide sidewalks of Santa Monica Blvd where I can see people and go into the many establishments on that street……But that’s just me.

JJ1
JJ1
15 days ago
Reply to  Manny

Exactly. The length between SM Blvd and Melrose is less than a 1/4 mile and the whole length is not even blocked off. It’s not encouraging any bicycling revolution. That is a joke.

kab1200
kab1200
12 days ago
Reply to  Scott

Seriously, biking? That is absurd. Huge success? For whom?

Scott
Scott
12 days ago
Reply to  kab1200

You and other commentators on here seem to have fixated on my mention of “potentially cycling” without understanding my entire phrase. The newly pedestrianized area is indeed too small to create a major shift in cycling patterns but could “potentially” lead some biking off Santa Monica Blvd to have a briefly protected jaunt down Robertson, for instance. As for the “huge success”, it’s for those of us who walk (instead of understanding the city solely through a windshield perspective) and are excited to see areas opened up for pedestrians. West Hollywood is the most walkable city in California, and designing… Read more »

Vigilent
Vigilent
15 days ago

Enough of these juvenile concepts organized by staff members who are directed to fill their time cards with busy work. These are the types of activities that children would be directed to do to keep them from misbehaving which is why these will be perpetually forthcoming for the children of West Hollywood.

Folks, consider a new concept…grow up, act like a responsible adult and stop whining on WHINERville.

John Ryan
John Ryan
17 days ago

I am sick of what this city has become. You got the money, you get your way. Council could not care less about residents, just the almighty $$ and getting re-elected. The Abbey is an overpriced elitist place that does not reflect what WeHo is about. Of course that makes no difference since they spread the wealth to the City Council….that’s all it takes.

GoPackers
GoPackers
17 days ago

This is incredibly important. Did The City look the other way at code violations for only certain businesses, for instance? Were city employees expected to look the other way in other situations also? Makes a citizen wonder what else we don’t know.

hifi5000
hifi5000
17 days ago

Hold on,isn’t Pump next door and aren’t they taking advantage of the street closure? What about Bossa Nova? Aren’t they on the street as well? Too bad Hamburger Habit is closed,perhaps a new temporary space would have them rethink their layout and come up with a new version of their burger place. Mr.Cooley does get a lot of attention,a lot of it unjustified.However,I think he is right to use the new space as it is laid out.He was doing great with the space he had before the March 2020 closures and he lost a lot of business.Regaining it is a… Read more »

08mellie
08mellie
17 days ago
Reply to  hifi5000

Bossa Nova is closed. This pilot street closure is not really a celebration or benefit for West Hollywood businesses, only 1 business… a big win for The Abbey & Cooley.

David
David
16 days ago
Reply to  08mellie

Agreed for the most part. I would like to think that if other restaurant/bars were located on a (relatively) minor street that they might get the same City Council treatment. Robertson terminates a block away from this location. This relationship is unique with respect to other West Hollywood streets perpendicular to SMB that have restaurant/bars.

kab1200
kab1200
12 days ago
Reply to  hifi5000

What about the Chapel and the new Alley? He had a lot of expansion already. Hamburger Habit closed because the owner was getting old and wanted to close it. Keep up.

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