Article from the Malibu Patch:
Rejecting the arguments of nearby residents, a majority of theÂ Planning CommissionÂ on Tuesday night determined theÂ Malibu InnÂ is meeting the demands of its conditional use permit from the city, and should be allowed to stay open until 2 a.m. all week. The restaurant/bar, which reopened in April, has only been allowed to operate until 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as Sunday when the following Monday is a federal holiday. It has been forced to close at 12 a.m. on other days.
A group of residents living directly west of theMalibu Pier, which is located on the other side of Pacific Coast Highway from the Malibu Inn, said there is much noise coming from the facility. They said they would appeal the commission's decision to theÂ City Council.
Alex Hakim, who bought the venue with his brother Steven in a 2009 foreclosure auction, said he did not expect the facility to operate until 2 a.m. every night, but he wanted the opportunity to stay open that late when it is needed. Hakim noted that nearby venues are allowed to operate past midnight, includingÂ BeauRivageÂ (2 a.m.),Â MoonshadowsÂ (1 a.m.) and the former PierView and Windsail restaurants that are currently under construction (2 a.m.).
"We have proven ourselves as a respectable, first-class business like we set out to do," said Hakim, who called the revamped Malibu Inn "a food-first establishment and a live entertainment venue second."
He continued, "And at this time, we would like an opportunity to be at the same even-playing field as the other restaurants as well as have an opportunity to recoup our investment."
This argument persuaded Commissioner Joan House, who said she did not like having what she called "a two-tier system" in Malibu.
"For some reason that smacks as very undemocratic to me," she said.
While Hakim as well as Malibu Inn associates and supporters that addressed the commission said that much was being done to be cooperative with residents, including making the building soundproof, the neighbors painted a different picture.
"Having lived across the street, I can tell you there is a massive game of cat and mouse going on," resident Jonathan Roth said. "The operator, when we walk across the street and complain that the doors are open and we can hear the music, they close them for about 30 seconds, and then they open again. And as a resident and a homeowner, it gets a bit tiring doing that."
According to the city staff report, no complaints were made from when the business opened in April until June. There have been three complaints since that time, including one from the Malibu Inn when it needed help to get rid of a person who management said had arrived intoxicated. Â
Commission Chair Jeff Jennings said when forced to determine who was correct between the residents and city/sheriff's officials, he went with the latter. He said sheriff's officials would not hesitate to say there were problems if they existed.
Robert J. Allan, who lives near the Malibu Inn, said after the meeting that he would provide evidence at the City Council hearing that Malibu Inn management was violating the permit. He said with its decision, the commission had chosen "money over public safety."
"[The Malibu Inn is] generating money," Allan said. "The city is broke. So they take the money over the public safety. It's as simple that."
Whether the city could be considered "broke" is a matter of opinion. GoÂ hereÂ to see the 2011-12 city budget.
Hakim said after the meeting that he believed the criticism of the Malibu Inn was based on how the previous owner operated the venue.
"The previous owner might not have operated the place correctly, and they're scared that we are going to be similar to the previous owner," Hakim said. "And we've made every attempt to prove ourselves, and I think we have proven ourselves."
Commissioner John Mazza was the lone vote against extending the Malibu Inn's hours. He wanted to wait until January to vote on this, so that there could be more time to assess the Malibu Inn's operation.
"I used to party there 20, 30 years ago," Mazza said. "I know how obnoxious I was, so I have to consider that there is probably some reality to [the neighbors' complaints]. We don't have enough information to know what exactly is happening to the residents of the neighborhood."
The commission is expected to review a report of the Malibu Inn's compliance with its conditional use permit in November.
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