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Monday, April 14, 2014

Complaints brewing over Silver Lake bars and alcohol licenses


Silver Lake’s bar and restaurant scene keeps attracting new players, patrons – and problems. The complaints and issues related to businesses that serve alcohol popped up at two recent neighborhood meetings, with residents as well as some business owners voicing concerns about rowdy bar patrons, the growing number of liquor licenses and shrinking supply of street parking.  There is talk and requests for permit parking, restricting operating hours and increasing security.

At a recent town hall meeting organized by members of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, residents, officials and bar employees met to discuss and vent over problems related to the cluster of  shops, restaurants and bars on Glendale Boulevard near Silver Lake Boulevard.  Most of the complaints and anger expressed at the meeting  were aimed at the owners and patrons of two bars, the Red Lion Tavern and Cha Cha Lounge.  In addition to reports of public urination and reckless driving, there were also complaints about a shortage of street parking, loud music and after-hours partying after the bars close, according to minutes of the Jan. 29 meeting.

“I have seen people parking in front of my house with music blasting,”  a woman who lives on Dean Street is quoted as saying.  “It’s a party right in front of my apartment building. There is debris. This is not a single business’ fault. Can we arrange permit parking or meters?”

The  owner of Rockaway Records and several nearby buildings  said he has spent about $50,000 in recent  years on security and repairs in response to vandalism, according to the meeting minutes. “It’s driving me crazy,” he said. “The neighborhood is going down fast.”

But the shortage of parking emerged as one of the top complaints, with some proposing that street parking on surrounding side streets be limited to residents after 11 p.m. Parking is at a premium in the area, especially when the bars are open. While Cha Cha Lounge can hold 156 people, its parking lot has room for only 10 cars, according to a bar employee at the meeting. The Red Lion has 21 parking spaces but its building can legally hold 151 people.

Representatives of the Red Lion and Cha Cha Lounge defended their businesses and practices as officials planned to hold a follow up meeting to try and resolve complaints.   “This is our neighborhood,”   said  a person identified as a manager at Cha Cha. “We want to make sure that everyone is happy with us.”

Meanwhile,  last week, requests by Sunset Boulevard restaurant owners to serve alcohol  triggered opposition from some members of the neighborhood council, with some members expressing concerns about aggravating the neighborhood’s parking problems and accelerating the pace of gentrification.

During  last week’s meeting,  the Governing Board voted  on requests to support an application by Cowboys and Turbans, which is currently limited to serving beer and wine,  to serve a full line of alcohol and a permit by Night+Market, a new Thai restaurant now under construction, to serve beer and wine.   A majority of the board voted in favor of both requests but not before several council members objected.

Council member and Silver Lake restaurant owner Nadine Trujillo said the neighborhood already has enough places where alcohol can be purchased and consumed. What it lacks is parking to accommodate bar and restaurant patrons.

 ”They are going to bring a lot of great people here,” Trujillo said of Night+Market, which is moving into a vacant storefront without a parking lot.  ” But you are not going to be able to park here. I’m not going to approve a biz that takes away parking.” Board member Dorit Dowler-Guerro she would prefer to see an affordable restaurant or bar in the area so that  “people who live there could walk to and afford it.”

But fellow board member Clint Lukens said he credited Night+Market for reviving a vacant space.   “Parking is an issue throughout  the city,” he said. “It’s not going to change. It will always be a  problem. We can’t base [the vote] based on cars. We have to look at the big picture.”

While the neighborhood council voted to support both businesses and their alcohol licenses, expect the issue to return again soon.  The  owners of  Wood, a new pizza place opening in the former Tom’s Burgers building on Sunset,  recently applied to sell beer and wine in the restaurant now nearing completion.

44 comments

  1. Current Echo Park / ex-Silver Lake resident

    “Board member Dorit Dowler-Guerro she would prefer to see an affordable restaurant or bar in the area so that “people who live there could walk to and afford it.””

    This is a really naive and misinformed statement — so not totally surprised it came from the SLNC and the same morons who caused all that “Eastside” hubub last week.

    I used to live a block off Sunset Junction up until several months ago. I’m not swimming in money these days, and for most of my Silver Lake years, I was just a perpetually broke college student working an hourly wage PT job while finishing up school. I found the area had a surplus of affordable bars and restaurants — and, shocker, I could walk to them! If you only have a few bucks to spend, it’s not hard to get great food in Silver Lake on the cheap. The happy hours in the area are also great options for dining on the cheap; Thirsty Crow, whose normal menu is pretty pricey, has $5 drinks for happy hour, and Jay’s Bar has super cheap food/drinks during their happy hour as well. Tacos Delta, Tropical Cafe, Berlin Currywurst, Tangs Sandwiches (RIP), the farmer’s market — all low priced and walkable.

    And if Dorit was only referring to Night+Market? From what I know of the space, it’s going to be a pared down (re: casual and cheap) version of the restaurant’s other location. I think there was a menu floating around on Eater LA a few weeks back, and the prices were on par for what already exists in Silver Lake. Very curious to hear what Dorit finds “acceptably” cheap in the neighborhood. Perhaps she’s a fan of Del Taco?

    I’m bummed to hear Cha Cha and Red Lion patrons are behaving like children, though. Not surprised, since the “Hollywood” and “Glendale” crowds are showing up at both places more frequently. I’d hate to see either of these places go, though. Red Lion is probably my favorite spot in all of Los Angeles.

    • dorit dowler-guerrero

      i do like Tacos Delta, thanks for asking. My remark about affordability was regarding the Thai restaurant that will be opening by the Free Clinic

    • I can’t believe that Silverlake is having any problems now that they are no longer “Eastside”
      The liquor board will fine and hassel a business out of existence if enough complaints are made. Perhaps the concil is going about this the wrong way? Look at Cha Cha’s website, they have made Silverkake what it is today

    • I am old, i live in the neighborhood, and am ‘effected’ by these ‘problems’ – But Ilove that its still a place people come to have fun, get drunk and shake the stick out of thier a**s. So kids – drink, eat tacos – the more the merrier. If i wanted to live in a sleepy suburb i would would move.

  2. Residents that live on streets behind Diablo Taco / Thirsty Crow and this new Night Song Thai restaurant are applying for permit parking

  3. Permit parking just screws things up in a larger area. I live near Sunset Junction, permit parking on Sanborn just caused parking issues further down the street where we had none before.

  4. A significant portion of the meeting concerning Cha Cha and Red Lion focused on the Gus’s Lunch Truck hours of operation after the bars close. The truck owner informed the community that he stays open for business well past the bars closing (“3:30 at the latest”) which adds to the loitering/trash/noise issues. Parking is only part of the problem.

  5. Just to set the records straight, neighbors of Cha Cha & The Red Lyon – don’t want to shut them down they are neighbors too, just want them to be aware of the damage which includes lots of trash, car accidents, loud noises after 2:00pm that their customers inflict on other neighbors.

  6. I attended the Echo Park land Use committee meeting this week and similar issues were discussed re Senor Fish application for full liquor. The argument put forth by opponents to the application used the presence of too many bars as grounds to oppose restaurants from obtaining permits. It is a false equivalency, and intellectually lazy to lump all permit holders/seekers together. Beer/ wine/liquor sales offer an opportunity for restaurants to recover some of the sizable investment that they are making into a neighborhood and dont immediately lead to socially irresponsible behavior.

    • GEPENC is run by a bunch of old timers who are in bed by 9pm and, thus, cannot fathom why anyone would want to open a bar in Echo Park.

      Remember how they complained and whined and basically pushed a proposed small business (the arcade bar) out of the neighborhood because it wasn’t a “kid friendly” or “family friendly” idea? They are the worst — would rather drive business out of the area than acknowledge their neighbors have different tastes//ideas of fun.

      • Right on… most of the people complaining probably moved here originally because of fun bars… got old and want to close the door behind them. More bars please!!!!

  7. It seems that car dependency (need for parking/lack of viable mass transit) is going to be one of the biggest limitations to LA’s future economic growth, or perhaps force more of that growth in areas where this is not as big of an issue, e.g. downtown. It’s kind of amusing that some of the biggest anti-transit folks are the same ones saying they are pro-business.

  8. More permit and meter parking seems like a good idea. The city gives out too much parking for free, and that’s what causes most of the problems that people are complaining about. Permit parking in one location only causes problems in another location because that other location has free parking.

    I personally don’t see why bars should be allowed to have any parking (let alone required to provide it) – if we don’t want drunk driving, then we shouldn’t be encouraging people to drive to bars. Provide better bus and pedestrian access, and encourage bars to locate in areas with good transportation options (or good local walking clientele) and bad parking. Parking is a good thing to have around stores that sell objects that people need a car to move. Parking is a really bad thing to have around places where people are likely to get drunk.

    • Sadly Kenny the SLNC only approves of liquor licenses if the place shows proof of parking. For the record, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council endorses and promotes drinking and driving.

    • Any more bike lanes, so people can get healthy and work off those alcohol calories!

    • Junction Resident here… More Meters? On the residential streets? Are You crazy? The answer is, sadly, permit parking. Silverlake is pretty much Melrose now, and its time to pay that fee and get permit parking.

  9. Simply a mystery why anyone who is completely car-dependant would move into a streetcar neighborhood that has always had very little parking. Just move to Temecula or Valencia I hear they have tons of parking!

  10. Kenny, that’s the smartest thing anybody has said on this issue.

  11. What a precious neighborhood council we have. Nadine is voting no to more city rev to protect her ailing alegria restaurant and for Dorit, well of “idiotic no eastside fame” claims to support public transportation but is fixated on moronic parking spaces. If there isn’t much parking in the area people won’t drive dumdums. You who vote to block new businesses attempting to revive old buildings and build new businesses are on your way out. Take notice. the slnc shows signs of a serious lack of leadership to allow cons like this to further their self interested agendas. I’m glad the majority has decided to welcome the new entrepreneurs into our community as it will be a boon.

  12. and what an idiotic exchange regarding red lion and cha cha. i’m not a fan of cha cha, but they have a right to run their business. they should be responsible for loud and destructive customers, but that can be solved by simply providing evidence to the police. Everyone seems to be whining about parking spaces, which is the dumbest waste of time.

    and the owner of rockaway records spend $50k on security? is someone going to break in and steal vintage rolling stones records, give me a break.

  13. I was at the meeting & the Rockaway guys made things crystal clear. In the past, they had offered the Cha Cha owner parking in all three of their lots they own IF Cha Cha would pay for the the parking spots & hire a security guard. They turned them down. Looks to me that the Cha Cha has been saving money at their neighbors expense. With parking permits for the neoghboring streets now being a reality in July, the Cha Cha has to pony up & spend the cash for parking.

  14. Let he/she who actually parks their car(s) in their garage or driveway have the first 2 minute public comment about the parking problem in their neighborhood.

    If they do parking permits for residents the permit should be tied to the condition of any on-site parking – can a car be parked in the applicants garage or driveway? If yes, cool, you get a permit. If not please stop blaming others for the problems you’ve caused yourself. There aren’t that many 0 parked properties on this stretch of road to make this such a big issue.

  15. At least Wood has a nice lot (for the size of the restaurant). That seems like a choice location.

  16. The problem isn’t parking. There is never enough parking in this city or any city for that matter. The problem is all the people who live in Silver Lake/Echo Park that feel they need to drive to the bars. TAKE A CAB OR UBER. I’m also getting sick of Silver Lake complaining about the neighborhood being too loud or rowdy. You moved here. Don’t move to bar-row in Silver Lake if you want to be quiet and raise your children or finish that shitty novel you’ve been writing for years. Everyone else shouldn’t be tending to your needs.

    • James hit it on the head. I live in Silver Lake and never experience these problems because I live in an area away from bars. And don’t think I’m wealthy and live up on one of the hills. I rent south of Sunset near the freeway. But if you buy/rent near commercial areas, a) you probably paid less or pay lower rent for the location and b) you knew where you were moving to at the time. What did you think was going to happen?

  17. Silver Lake needs public parking structures, duh. Why don’t they have any? Because the obnoxious neighborhood council don’t want them (they prefer that everyone ride a bike, or better yet, stay away completely.) Instead of building those Santa Monica style apartment buildings at Sunset Junction, the city needs buy those lots and build multi-story parking garages, like any city would. The structure that they built in West Hollywood did wonders for the street parking in that neighborhood. People are going to drive until the day it’s too expensive, so get over your “ride a bike” fantasy and built a parking structure near Sunset Junction.

    Are there too many liquor licenses in Silver Lake and Echo Park, maybe. I’ve seen the number of DUI check points in the neighborhood skyrocket, so that’s probably why. I don’t think any of us in Silver Lake or Echo Park wants our neighborhoods to become entertainment meccas, attracting hoards of rowdy young west-siders (which I’m starting to notice on weekends.) Maybe it’s time that the city council stop issuing new liquor licenses in the area until a study can be conducted showing if there is a connection between noise and crime and the increase in liquor licenses?

    @James, When I moved to Echo Park there were hardly any popular restaurants or bars, but it the last 7 years there has been an explosion of new businesses. That’s great, but the growth must take place in a way the works for the neighborhood as well as the businesses.

    • Once again, it would be lovely if our not-so-friendly neighbors at the Angelus Temple offered up their massive, ugly parking structure for public use on days they aren’t singing to their Magical Sky Friend. Think of how much it would benefit the Echo(plex), Masa, and the hordes of other businesses operating on Sunset in Echo Park.

  18. As a 38-year Silver Lake resident, I can remember when people complained about the gay bars and clubs in the neighborhood. Now it’s about the hipster bars and clubs. As they say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

    • laugh… brilliant. A lot of the same kids I drank with at those bars are now moms complaining about them. Get over it and have fun. If you want quiet move to monrovia.

      • Can you possibly imagine what it’s like to have a drunk kid banging on your gate to let them in at 3 in the morning because they think they live at your house? In a way it’s funny – if it were a one off. But it isn’t. We routinely have bottles and cups left in front of our houses, people yelling up and down the street to each other, and since this is a steep hill, the sound of tires screeching as people try to back up and to cap it all off, the sound of cars being hit at least once every two months, because people park to close to the car down hill of them and either slam into that car or the one behind them as they floor it to go in reverse up the hill.

        But you’re telling me that I should relax about it all and just go get drunk with everyone else in the street and it’ll all be ok? I suppose it’s worth a shot, but somehow I doubt it’s gonna work. . .

        • I get it – I am in the same boat. Its annoying. At the same time I have lived places where there is just nothing going on. I am beyond ‘bar age’ but love that I not only can walk to a restaurant i wan walk to several – i can get tacos late at night right outside my house – and get a drink after work without driving anywhere if i want to. Most of all I like living in a vital living place where people want to come and hang out and have fun. I have lived in plenty places that aren’t and had to drive across town to find it. Its at my doorstep. (sometimes toooo much of IT is – laugh. WITH YOU on the disrespect for the locals – wish they could respect that it is also a residential street – but thats a lot to ask of drunk kids.

  19. Older neighborhoods like Silver Lake simply don’t have enough parking – on or off street for today’s residents and businesses. While walking/biking may be a viable and sustainable alternative in other cities with well developed transit systems and good urban planning, Los Angeles just isn’t there yet. That doesn’t mean LA can’t get there, it will just take at least another 20 years.

    In many parts of Silver Lake, especially Sunset Junction, hundreds if not thousands of apartments were built in the 30s, 40s and 50s with little to no parking. This forces residents and businesses to compete for the same limited on-street parking spaces. In almost every other neighborhood business district in LA, the city has recognized this problem and purchased land for city owned parking lots. Look at Atwater, Los Feliz, Echo Park, Larchmont, Highland Park, Liemert Park, etc. All of them have city-owned parking lots that are available for business patrons to use. Notice who’s missing? Silver Lake. There’s not a single city-owned parking lot in Silver Lake. That is the difference between Silver Lake and other urban neighborhoods with similar business districts. The witches brew of apartments with no parking and the absence of city-owned lots that make up the difference has created this ongoing parking conflict in Silver Lake. It’s high time the city and residents recognize that the parking problem is real and that a solution will take a combination of creating better bike/pedestrian infrastructure and providing additional parking options.

    People love to complain about parking as it relates to the Frost/Chaddock projects at Sunset Junction. The size, architecture, etc are all debatable and shouldn’t be ignored, but when it comes to parking, it’s a net gain for the neighborhood. It replaces several businesses with no parking or severely inadequate parking (thus driving up demand for street parking) and with new residents and businesses with adequate parking (thus reducing demand for on-street parking by residents and businesses).

    Silver Lake needs both the businesses and residents, instead of being pissy neighbors to each other, why don’t they get together and work on solutions that might work for everyone. If you actually read the minutes of the meeting referenced above, it sounds like there was some progress in that direction. My 2c.

    • good comments, SL does need a parking structure to accommodate businesses so they can get customers in and residents who are pushed on parking, if business customers have a place to park then the business flourishes if not it becomes something else that is also doomed to fail.. But the wacko three on the NC have no concept of reality anyway so why would they support common sense and from what I can see of who is running they are getting their crazy friends to run also, This council was pretty good years ago but it got taken over by those wacky nut jobs. weren’t they the three that shut down the board for almost 3 months last year?

      • The Neighborhood Council has been a joke since it was taken over by the NIMBYs who have turned it into a homeowners association. But it’s powerless, and it makes itself more so by solidifying its brand through alienating most of the community.

      • As if the businesses in Silver Lake are having any problem making money. Even without parking.

  20. I’ve lived on Hidalgo Avenue, east of and above Glendale Boulevard, for 24 years. I can testify that when the Cha Cha Lounge was gay, we did not have these kinds of problems. Perhaps occasionally on weekends there was noise. But now, it’s EVERY NIGHT, and you can set your clock by the last call and closing times at the Lounge, because that’s when all the yelling and screaming starts. Some people lament the gentrification of Silver Lake and that it’s becoming more like the West Side. Yes, the coffee has gotten more expensive, but the big difference is that Silver Lake has become infinitely more juvenile. The behavior of these bar crowds is not only inconsiderate, but also it’s just plain stupid and, dare I say it, not very hip.

    • Everything was better when it was gay.

    • Young people haven’t become more juvenile. You’ve just become old. 24 years is a long time.

      • Oh bullshit. I have lived in EP since 1985. Worst noise was the helicopters and occasional gunshots. Last summer a gang of these entitled, mindless, rude, adolescent acting idiots who moved to my block were standing around out front of my home, at 4am, chattering up a storm. I got up, put on my robe and combat boots, went out front, got the hose, and soaked their sorry fucking asses. They left pretty fast, and have never been back. Case closed. And sounds pretty good to me! Hahahahahaha

  21. Public Service Announcement

    Become a candidate for the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. Get more info at: http://www.empowerla.org/slnc

  22. Try living by Dodger Stadium AND four bars all clumped together with no permit parking., Cry me a river, Silverlake.

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