The Beverly Hills Planning Commission has allowed Sixty Hotel to continue rooftop activities for up to 165 visitors until as late as 2 a.m. within earshot of hundreds of multifamily households living near the hotel at Wilshire & Crescent. Planning Commissioners were not persuaded by residents who cited past problems with rooftop noise and expressed their concerns with future hotel compliance with conditions of operation. No new restrictions on hours of operation or occupancy were added. City council has now agreed to discuss whether to formally review the commission decision and has scheduled a special meeting on July 22, 2021.
Update City council at the July 22nd special meeting agreed to formally review the Planning Commission decision to renew the Sixty Hotel’s permits with the current conditions. In favor of review were Councilmember John Mirisch, Vice-Mayor Lili Bosse and Mayor Bob Wunderlich. Not as supportive were councilmembers Julian Gold and Lester Friedman. They looked ready to vote not to review the decision but ultimately voted with the majority to result in a unanimous vote. The next step is the formal review scheduled for September 14th. Until that review the hotel will be operating under the current conditions: until midnight Sun-Thurs and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Sixty hotel has operated for nearly two decades under varying conditions which have been tightened or relaxed depending on the hotel’s record of compliance. Most recently Sixty Hotel came to the Planning Commission to ask that its expired (2017) permits be renewed to allow:
- Rooftop operations until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and midnight Sunday to Thursday;
- Rooftop operations until 2 a. m. on a dozen additional nights that are not Friday or Saturday each year;
- Rooftop occupancy not to exceed 165 (exclusive of hotel staff) and occupancy need not be limited to hotel guests; and,
- Only pre-recorded “background music which does not interfere with normal speech communication.”
Though residents told the commission that spillover noise from the rooftop disturbed their lives, the Planning Commission determined that continued rooftop operations would have no impact on the nearby residential area. Read more in our recap: Planning Commission to Sixty Hotel: Party Like It’s 1999!
Community Recourse for a Wrong Decision
The Planning Commission is the final decision-maker on renewing permits that Sixty Hotel needs to continue late-night rooftop activities. One is an Extended Hours Permit that allows those activities to continue past 10 p.m. (the quiet hour for commercial operations in a commercial-residential transition area within 170 feet of residences and Sixty Hotel is only 25 feet from multifamily apartments).
The Municipal Code affords neighbors two options to revisit the Planning Commission renewal of the permits.
Appeal. The appeal is a formal process that casts a stakeholder in the role of appellant. After paying an $5,716 appeal fee, city council grants a de novo hearing in which the appellant’s “statement of the facts” and request for relief is freshly considered. City council is the final adjudicator and in the hearing can modify the conditions of operation or deny the permits outright. The process is described in Article 1 of Chapter 4 of Title 1 of the Municipal Code.
Where the appeal is a formal process which compels city council to hold a hearing; the ‘call-up’ having a decision of city council or a commission “called up” for reconsideration is about persuading a majority of city council to discuss it. If city council agrees a formal de novo hearing is set and city council as adjudicator can deny the permits or modify conditions.
Call-Up. The ‘call-up is a council-ordered review of administrative decisions that involves no appeal fee. The council is undertaking a review on its own authority. Compared with an appeal, a ‘call-up’ at city council is less-formal; it may simply be added to a future agenda for discussion and perhaps a later hearing. The process is briefly described in Article 2 of Chapter 4 of Title 1 of the Municipal Code.
However a successful call-up is a hurdle for the community because council is generally disinclined to second-guess administrative decisions. The councilmember who does take an interest must persuade at least two other councilmembers to agree to discuss it. And that is where public comment comes in! It is essential for city council to hear from residents who feel that they have not been heard.
City Council Will Discuss a Call-Up
When Renters Alliance first reached out to two councilmembers about the Planning Commission decision they were cool to the idea of revisiting it. But when three neighbors spoke up at the July 15th city council afternoon study session — each expressing some concern about past problems with noise and other impacts — city council was motivated to discuss it further. The public comments that persuaded city council:
I am very disappointed in the decision in regards to Sixty Hotel. Allowing the hotel after-hours denies sleep, peace and quiet for the residents in my building…and the block where the hotel is located. The after-hours brings people, which is a good thing, but also brings music at high volume, and cars, not including Uber, and others, during a time when working people and families want to go to sleep…. This is not fair or right for people who have to work the next day, or for children who have school and study. I choose to live in Beverly Hills because it is a community that cares about its residents and their needs, but allowing the Sixty to expand hours says that the city does not care about what I need, which is a normal life. — Maria
I feel as if the City does not care about the quality of life for the residents. There are hundreds of multifamily households living within 500 feel of the hotel. To expect families to give up peace and quiet and depriving us of a good nights sleep is not only insensitive but a ruthless decision….If the operation was inside the hotel and not outdoors, it could be different — there would definitely be less noise disturbance. Loud music, loud enough where we can’t hear our own televisions at home is totally unacceptable by any standard. — Janette
Management of the hotel has demonstrated a complete disregard for its neighbors, and a clear inability to abide by the terms of the prior permit, as evidenced by the numerous complaints filed during the period prior to COVID shutting down the bar. Living just opposite the hotel, I was bothered by the loud music coming from the rooftop in the early hours of the morning… It is beyond comprehension why the hotel should now be granted the benefit of the doubt… At the very least, they should be subject to the same restrictions as L’Ermitage. — Peter
Those comments had a big impact. As they were read into the record we could see Mayor Bob Wunderlich on the video conferring with councilmembers on either side.
“Can we add it to today’s agenda to have a discussion to call it up?” asked Councilmember John Mirisch. That wasn’t possible. Vice-Mayor Lili Bosse then asked if the Director of Community Development himself could refer it to city council. That wouldn’t work either. “Only in the event that the hotel is not abiding by the conditions of approval,” said Director Ryan Gohlich. “There would need to be a trigger first before we bring it back.”
John Mirisch said, “I think a number of us would request a special meeting by Zoom or whatever.” It was clear that the number was three: Mayor Bob Wunderlich, Vice-Mayor Lili Bosse and councilmember John Mirisch. They all agreed to schedule a special meeting to meet the 30-day deadline. Notably councilmembers Julian Gold and Les Friedman didn’t speak up. The tea leaves suggests they would probably be less-inclined to support a formal review of the Planning Commission’s Sixty Hotel decision.
The special meeting to discuss whether to formally review the Planning Commission’s Sixty Hotel decision was scheduled for July 22nd at 3:30pm. If council agrees at that meeting to call-up the Planning Commission decision then a formal de novo (blank slate) hearing will be scheduled with plenty of advance notice to the community.
The issues of greatest concern to neighbors:
Hours of operation and occupancy. Rooftop operations under the permit renewal are allowed until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and until midnight Sunday to Thursday, with an additional dozen nights each year where operations can continue until 2 a.m. on nights other than a Friday or Saturday. Occupancy is not to exceed 165 exclusive of hotel staff. (In 2006 occupancy was limited to 92 persons.) but that was subsequently relaxed. Past conditions also
Consistency in regulation of hotel rooftop operations. The L’Ermitage hotel operates a rooftop space and it too is located in commercial-residential transitional area on Burton Way. Consider the restrictive conditions that the Planning Commission imposed on L’Ermitage Hotel several years ago:
- Rooftop operations cease at 10 pm with all guests gone by 11 pm (a defined hour to close the rooftop);
- A “sound monitor” is stationed at the rooftop whenever a rooftop event will exceed 25 or more guests “to ensure that event noise remains at an allowable level”;
- For any rooftop function involving more than 25 attendees who are not hotel guests the hotel must file a traffic & parking plan.
Neighbors who want to speak up at the council’s July 22nd meeting are encouraged to get in touch with Renters Alliance so we can review key points. We want to show consistent community support when city council considers whether to set a hearing to formally review the Planning Commission decision.