A city of Los Angeles associate planner on Wednesday afternoon listened to Highland Park residents make arguments both for and against chef James Graham's application to secure a conditional use permit to sell beer and wine with food until 2 a.m. at the he hopes to open on York Boulevard and Ave. 51 early next fall.
After listening to both sides for about an hour, Associate Planer Maya Zaitzevsky said she was taking the matter under advisement, and would issue a decision within one week.
Community can still weigh in on issue by emailing Associate Planner Maya Zaitzevsky at Maya.Zaitzevsky@LaCity.Org
Among the arguments Zaitzevsky will be considering are those of neighborhood residents like Tyson Smith, who argued that with six establishments in the neighborhood licensed to sell alcohol, including local bars The York and , the neighborhood was being overrun by late night revelers.
Smith said he was not opposed to Graham's effort to open an upscale restaurant in the neighborhood, but the urged the planning department to deny his request to serve beer and wine past 11 p.m.
After the meeting, Smith told Patch that "there were a lot of great things happening on York Boulevard, but selling beer and wine at night wasn't one of them."
Many of the approximately half dozen community members who spoke against Graham's application expressed a similar sentiment, saying that while they would love to see a nice restaurant come to the neighborhood, they didn't like the idea of it being allowed to serve alcohol late into the night.
One resident presented a petition containing 137 signatures of residents who opposed the conditional use permit.
Arguments in Favor
There were also several community members and local officials who spoke in favor of Graham's application, including local resident Kevin Bone.
"I'm excited about this restaurant for many reasons," he said. "I don't see this restaurant as being a stopping place for those who would commit crimes. I think it would be a pretty well-behaved crowd."
Tricia Robbins, a field deputy for Councilman José Huizar's office, submitted letters from both the councilman's office as well as from the Los Angeles Police Department which stated support for Graham's application.
"In dealing with this particular issue, this owner has been very good in doing all the homework related to this project," Robbins said of Graham. "The Los Angeles Police Department is also in favor of this restaurant.
According to Graham, LAPD's support is actually conditional, as it suggests that the restaurant be allowed to stay open only until midnight on weekends for a period of a few months to prove it could be a good neighbor.
In making the case for his application, Graham stated that there seemed to be some misunderstanding as to what kind of restaurant he planned to operate.
"I do feel like people have not understood or have not heard that alcohol will only be served with food," Graham said. "If I'm allowed to serve a full menu until 1 a.m., I'll do that."
Graham, who said he lives about 900 feet away from the restaurant, said he has no interest in contributing to the bad behavior attributed to the neighborhood's bars.
"There are problems in the neighborhood, but they're getting better," Graham said. "I feel like I can be a part of making them better."
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