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.