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Tropico Perspective: Get tough on banquet halls

July 21, 2010

When the Adams Hill Neighborhood Assn. elected to appeal the conditional-use permit city Zoning Administrator Edith Fuentes drafted and granted to the Moonlight Family Restaurant, we knew we were fighting a much bigger battle than the fate of just one neighborhood business. A casual look from the reporting of the outcome of the appeal made it seem that we had lost the battle or that the outcome wasn't ideal.

That wasn't the case.

The Moonlight restaurant has been the site of a stream of restaurants masquerading as banquet halls for years, and preventing another one from getting a liquor license wasn't going to change anything. Glendale is one of only two cities in Southern California that does not require a business license to operate, and the conditional-use permit is the only mechanism the city has to regulate business activities and try to keep them on the straight and narrow.

This wasn't about a particular operator, the kind of restaurant it was and certainly not the ethnicity of the owner. We wanted to give this guy a shot, even though he walked into a space with a lot of baggage attached. Our target was the conditional-use permit.


The problem we had with the permit was that it did nothing to provide the tools needed by the city to adequately investigate or carry out effective enforcement action. All of the enforcement actions brought against earlier operators were the result of building code violations. We needed the zoning administrator to write a conditional-use permit that would actually work, one that gave the tools the Neighborhood Services division needed to actually enforce legal activity.

More importantly, if successful, the inclusions in the revised permit could be a template to better bring operators like the Montrose Collection, Mynx and the Mix into compliance with the law.

We were vindicated at the Planning Commission meeting when it approved virtually every recommendation we made for changes to the initial permit.

Were we a little unhappy about having to spend north of $750 to have those tools included in the conditional-use permit, even though we provided the framework in advance of the granting of the permit when it was free? Of course we were, but having them become the standard for this location ensures that this operator and the next one would actually have a restaurant as opposed to a sham banquet hall.

Or so we thought.

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