Keeping on Top of Caruso/City Documents


The Red-Line Specific Plan for the Caruso project arrived in the News e-mail box on April 15. Supposedly some people in Pacific Palisades received it on March 29 and it gradually passed from email to email like a secret message.

The document allows 10 alcohol licenses for Caruso—one for a specialty grocery store, one for the movie theater, one for a wine-and-cheese store and the remaining seven for restaurants. What also caught our attention were the operating hours: from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.

This has been a sleepy little community town, and we wonder who will take advantage of a midnight cocktail? Maybe someone who works late and then stops by on their way home to Malibu? Maybe some of the young Santa Monica Third Street Promenade crowd looking for new watering holes. Heck, maybe even the motorcyclists who roar through every Wednesday night might like to stop and have a drink before continuing on down Sunset towards PCH.

After Caruso Affiliated bought the 3.1-acre property on Swarthmore, Monument and Sunset, the developer asked City Planning to consider it a subarea when he submitted his initial plans. The rationale was that because of the “large” scope of the project, a subarea designation would make it easier to tackle height limits, parking requirements, signage restrictions and alcohol permits in one application rather than ask for exemptions from the town’s long-established Specific Plan.

There are subareas in Los Angeles, such as LAX and the area around USC, and at some point, City Planning agreed with Caruso that his Palisades development was indeed an overwhelmingly “large” project deserving of special concessions.

The News contacted City Planning and Councilman Mike Bonin’s office to find out when Caruso’s Palisades Village became a subarea and who had written the Red-Line Specific Plan draft. No one had returned our call by presstime.

If you’re certain the City would never allow restaurants or bars to stay open until 2 a.m. in Pacific Palisades without certain conditions, then you might be interested in the motion passed by the Pacific Palisades Community Council last Thursday night.

Steven Sann, chair of the Westwood Community Council, ask for this Council’s support for a WRAC motion (Westside Regional Alliance of Councils) to enforce land-use Conditional Use Permits regarding alcoholic beverages.

He explained that a restaurant/bar had wanted to open in Westwood. His council agreed to support it, in exchange for voluntary conditions, which included hours and parking.

Later, the restaurant declined to follow the voluntary conditions. The Westwood Council went to the City and asked them to enforce it, but the City would not.

In the motion, the WRACs noted: “In 2012, with no public notice, no public process, no public hearings and no direction from the City Council, Zoning Administrators now unilaterally and without notice use the Plan Approval Process to remove previously-imposed conditions designed to avoid or mitigate actual or potential land-use impacts adverse to public health, safety and welfare.”

Although Santa Monica, West Hollywood and all cities in Los Angeles County impose land-use conditions to help communities fight adverse conditions—such as the sale or service of alcohol, including hours of sale, happy hours, container sizes, types of alcohol sold and other similar rules and regulations—don’t count on City officials to help the Palisades. (You can read the entire motion on the Community Council’s new website:

You can also read the Red-Line Specific Plan on our Facebook page. If you have issues with it, you can try expressing your concerns to Councilman Mike Bonin. Wait. That might be a problem. He has wholeheartedly expressed support for the entire plan, including the subarea.

Maybe bring your concerns to the local Design Review Board. Wait. They were taken off the project by the City.

Why not try your local Community Council representative? Wait. When Temescal Canyon representative Gil Dembo tried to bring up issues about the Red-Line plan at the Council’s April 14 meeting, he was told he was out of order, that his concern was not on the agenda and that a letter had already been written supporting the Caruso project and its subarea designation.

Maybe try the Planning Commission’s public hearing in Van Nuys on Thursday morning, April 28, and raise concerns?

Or maybe just raise a glass. Skoal!

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