It seems the wasn’t the only event impacting neighbors over the weekend. Residents living adjacent to Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard also put up with loud music playing until 2 a.m. on Sunday. The trendy night spot’s conditional use permit previously had music ending at 10 p.m., but apparently that was changed last week.
Below is a letter resident Henry Scott sent to each of the five City Council members as well as City Manager Paul Arevalo:
Dear Mayor and Council Members:
On this past weekend, some two dozen people were made miserable by a city decision to permit the Mondrian Hotel's Skybar to perform loud music outdoors and past the normal (10 p.m.) cutoff period for such noise. On Saturday, several of my neighbors actually booked hotel rooms or made plans to stay with friends because they would not be able to sleep in their own homes because of noise from the Skybar.
In this past weekend's case, the city not only allowed loud noise until 2 a.m. Sunday and permitted a live band, it also allowed the Skybar to broadcast the music through outdoor speakers, which the Skybar otherwise is not allowed to do. That is because last week, the Code Compliance manager finally agreed to require the Mondrian to install a previously required noise/sound wall if it wants to broadcast music outside.
That decision was a long time coming, as previously the Code Compliance manager and the Community Development director have simply changed the Mondrian's development permit each time it violated elements of the permit related to noise so that the Mondrian would be in compliance. (A good analogy would be a lax parent who changes a child's curfew to accommodate the child each time he or she violates it.)
So for this past weekend, the city didn't just change the cutoff hour stated in the noise ordinance, which is usual with such permits, it actually permitted a different action otherwise barred.
Since its opening in 1996, the Skybar has consistently violated the noise ordinance, with little or no response from the City of West Hollywood. My question now, and that of my neighbors, is whether there are any restrictions the city is willing to put on a venue like the Skybar. So far, the answer seems to be no.
If it permits the Skybar to broadcast music outdoors, which is otherwise barred, will it permit the Skybar to hire helicopters to hover over its roof and have dancers slither down ropes to the outdoor pool? Will it permit the Skybar to stage July 4 explosions of fireworks? Will it permit the Skybar to play loud music for 24 continuous hours?
There need to be some limits in this permitting process. We would argue that permits should allow venues only to extend the period in which they can have performances that would otherwise violate the noise ordinance, and then only by a reasonable number of hours.
Permits should not allow a venue to perform activities that otherwise are illegal, which has been the case here. Also, permits should not be automatically granted. A venue is required to distribute a written notice to neighbors alerting them that a permit has been granted to violate the noise ordinance.
Venues adjacent to residential areas also should be required to distribute a written notice that a permit has been requested so that neighbors can contest it. In the case of the Mondrian, the city always grants its permit requests, despite the fact that it has been a consistent violator of the law.
And of course a bigger, and core, issue is why the city would grant a permit for music and entertainment to a venue that lacks a wall and roof.
This is not an issue that will go away, unless you take action on it. City officials so far show much more interest in making the Mondrian and its owners happy than in the quality of life of city residents. As a relative newcomer to West Hollywood, I'm amazed to learn that I live in a city where the quality of life of minks and dogs gets more official attention than that of its residents.
Residents of West Hollywood are asking themselves: Who owns West Hollywood? At some point, we will be successful in effecting the sort of change that allows us to answer: We do!
Henry E. Scott