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Bars & Clubs, Business, City Hall, Nightlife


The Planning Commission for the City of West Hollywood on Thursday night put off a decision on a request to allow dancing at The Abbey, angering the founder of the popular establishment.

“I have supported the community and my customers for nearly 20 years,” said David Cooley, Founder of The Abbey. “It is disheartening how the City Planning Commission chose to treat The Abbey tonight.”

Cooley said that the commission refused to approve dancing and entertainment at The Abbey because the City Commissioners had not done their research and were unsure on how allowing dancing at The Abbey would impact parking. The Abbey is seeking to use 367 square feet of the 12,000 square foot facility for dancing.

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In addition to contacting the press, management for the venue took to Twitter and Facebook to alert their customers and the public to what they claim is unfair treatment and disrespect to someone who has done a tremendous amount for the community.

A press release stated, “After recently announcing plans to be more pro-business, they disrespected business owner David Cooley and what he has done for the City of West Hollywood for the past 20 years, including supporting charities, raising over $1 million for APLA at his annual Oscar event, employing over 190 people at The Abbey, being one of the largest tax revenue generators for our city, creating a tourist destination known around the globe as “The Best Gay Bar in the World” and his continuous support for the LGBT community.”

The agenda item for the Planning Commission said that The Abbey was “requesting an intensification of use from restaurant to bar/nightclub with dancing” and that the recommendation from Planning Department staff was to “approve the application” and adopt a resolution to conditionally approve or amend development, parking and conditional use permits.

The Abbey said that even with support from the community, Sheriff’s Department, Parking Officials, Code Enforcement, Public Safety, The Chamber of Commerce, and City Staff, the Planning Commission still would not approve the change in permitting to allow dancing and entertainment. All of the residents in attendance were in support of the change, but commissioners wanted to speak to additional residents.

We’re told that city staff prepared all of the necessary information for the commissioners, but the commissioners wanted to speak directly to the people who prepared them. At the next hearing on June 16th at the West Hollywood Park Auditorium, the commissioners want live testimony from the Sheriff’s Department and Parking Officials as well as crime statistics for the neighborhood, public safety statistics, additional outreach to the community beyond the required and completed mailing and signage and a complete audit of parking lots in the surrounding areas.

Of those items, it appears that the biggest sticking point was parking. The Abbey says that the commission believes additional parking would be required, though they counter that argument by pointing out that the overall occupancy allowed at the venue is not changing. Plus, we’re also told that city staff explained in the hearing that several hundred parking spots are currently being underused in the new public parking lot as part of the library project nearby.

The Abbey is asking the public to voice their support by contacting Mayor Duran, City Manager Paul Arevalo and Planner Jennifer Alkir. In addition, they are asking the public to participate in the next hearing on June 16th at the West Hollywood Park Auditorium.

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Planning Commision Angers Abbey Over Dancing Permits, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

What do you think?

21 Comments

  1. Chad says:

    You need a permit to dance!? What is this!? FOOTLOOSE?!

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  2. comehomenow says:

    @Chad LOL. Beat me to it.

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  3. Chris says:

    Is this another example of the city council trying to keep those pesky gays out with their dancing and whatnot? Wouldn’t want those kids next door at the park to see those mens dancing with other mens. After all this is West Hollywood – must keep it family friendly…

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  4. GaryM says:

    You need a permit to switch from a restaurant to a nightclub. I watched the Planning Commission instead of relying on tweets from The Abbey for my information and, although I love The Abbey and everything they add to the community, some points the PC made were valid. Some dubious. Regardless, I don’t have a problem looking deeper in to the request before granting it based solely on The Abbey’s history here. Patience. You don’t want to set precedents haphazardly.

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  5. Taylor Reiss says:

    this is preposterous! The Abbey and David Cooley do so much for this community. It is hear breaking to know that the PC wants to create havoc and change everything. :(

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  6. Chad says:

    So… and I mean this in all sincerity, if thirty people were to start dancing at the Abbey, management would have to go around and ask them to stop?

    I think Cooley needs to start selling shirts, “What Are You Going to Do? Charge Me With Dancing?”

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  7. Chris says:

    So over the Abbey… Who cares what David Cooley thinks?

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  8. Kris says:

    Oh, I see. So a multi-millionaire whose popular establishment happens to generate lots of sales taxes revenue for the city thinks this entitles him to get whatever he wants without going through proper regulatory channels. Maybe he needs to get over himself and realize he doesn’t live in an autocracy, and he’s not the monarch .. or king .. or queen. Well, not monarch or king anyway.

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  9. weho says:

    the fact is, cooley has always got anything and everything he’s wanted from the city over the years and this will be approved too….pretty bold move creating your dance floor before it was approved by the city mister cocky, i mean cooley….in regards to giving back to charity, i hereby dare them to open their books to the public…..apla has to pay the abbey big money to have their oscar party there….and i was told by an apla insider friend that cooley forced apla to pay for a very expensive dress for jennifer love hewitt in exchange for her attendance

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  10. Steve says:

    David Cooley had “disrespected” his neighbors on Hilldale and Keith for years. The music is simply too loud for a residential neighborhood and his employees consistantly take up all the street parking. Once these issuses are adressed, then the city can look into granting the permits.

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  11. WEHO says:

    i couldnt agree with you more steve….but just wait until this “spaceship” (see below) is built at santa monica & robertson….we’ll all have to go to bed at 4am when the music ends…..”tons of outdoor space” the article reads, which means open doors with loud music echoing into the residential areas….yet another project pushed through the city council without concern for neighbors/parking!!!

    http://la.eater.com/archives/2011/04/08/bar_varsity_headed_to_west_hollywood.php

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  12. comehomenow says:

    Just playing Devil’s Advocate…If you don’t like loud music or clubbers and club employees using up parking that they’re more than entitled to use, gotta say Santa Monica Blvd and Robertson is the wrong place for you.

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  13. WEHO says:

    haha….well, yur statement is just laughable really….first off, the residential area north of SMB has been there longgggg before clubville took over, so you can’t possibly be suggesting that the solution is for all of those people who don’t like what’s happening should just move, are you?….secondly, the city is planning to eliminate the on-site parking already available at this location all the while denying other new businesses who would like to open shop around weho because they don’t have “adequate on-site parking”…..the old laurel hardware location at SMB and laurel is a perfect example of that…..the building has been there for decades without any of their own parking, but try to establish a business in that location, and the city wants you to FIND parking somewhere…..and yet, the city is wasting money on a new state-of-the-art parking system for their own staff (and visitors) behind city hall instead of building a parking structure where it’s needed most like SBM between fairfax and crescent hts where there are 4 clubs and other businesses….i guess city staffer’s have issues walking 2 blocks to the kings road structure which was built for them, and essentially goes unused when staff cars aren’t there

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  14. admin says:

    @WEHO: While the houses have been there a long time, what percentage of the population living in the houses pre-dates the nightlife scene in the area (and the preceding nightlife venues)? I think the previous commenter was pointing out that most people moved into the area knowing full well that it was a nightlife rich neighborhood. Are you disputing that?

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  15. WEHO says:

    dear darin, i can only speak from my knowledge of living IN this particular community (north of SMB) since 1987 and back then, and for the longest time, it was quite peaceful back here….and yes, most of my neighbors who own our homes have been here for a long time too; apartment dwellers, not so much, but these are mostly single-family homes back here…..regardless, why should residential areas have to suffer due to poor planning and shady backroom deals from city hall???….mickys, the rage, eleven and east west have open patios and loud music BUT the difference is that they are facing south and “somewhat” have a sound buffer with the sheriffs dept/PDC/metro right across the street (although i’m sure their neighbors behind those clubs will disagee that sound doesnt affect them entirely)…..with that said, the abbey and now the varsity club with a huge open patio (if approved by city hall), has/will have music blaring into our residential area behind pavillions…..”just move” is not the answer…..and i’m not suggesting that these clubs be shut down either, but the city can’t give them a free-for-all pass to do anything they want….can’t we all just get along?…..lastly, when the mixed-use stores/condos start to rise along SMB, people who BUY the condos (not renters) and KNOW what neighborhood they are moving into, will STILL have issues with the club noise and other enforcement issues, mark my words….

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  16. comehomenow says:

    @WEHO I didn’t mean to upset you. I understand that neighborhoods change. But, with that said, neighborhoods change. The area is thriving on the nightlife right now, which I would also imagine brings a big chunk of business to local restaurants and shops, The clubs are not going to go away.

    I wasn’t really talking about the parking issues you mentioned. Don’t know enough about it to comment on it. All I know is parking is pretty much a nightmare all over LA, and the fact that everyone needs a car doesn’t help.

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  17. admin says:

    @WEHO: I’m not suggesting anyone get a free pass to do anything they want. Actually, in my last post I was just responding with what I thought was the intent of a previous comment. But as for my own thoughts… well, it seems like this type of tension is entirely predictable when residential areas are adjacent to nightlife areas. And I think the continuing evolution and development of the nightlife — and developing tension with neighbors — in that area was entirely predictable even back in 1987. So it’s hard to parse out how much of this is just the “well you should have known when you moved there” type of complaints and what might be over and above that. I don’t think anyone is saying that the nightlife should be able to stomp all over the residential neighbors, but it is hard to be completely sympathetic when it SEEMS like a lot of the complaints are over things that should have been factored in (along with an intensifying use of the years) when moving to that area. I probably hung out there back in the late 80′s and early 90′s (much more than I do now) and as far as I can recall it was already a pretty clubby area. Yes, the use has intensified over the years, but hasn’t that been the case pretty much everywhere? And again, been predictable?

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  18. WEHO says:

    not true…again, back then, it was mother lode, rage, four star or four square (can’t remember the name; now mickys), revolver and studio one on la peer…..since then, trunks, eleven, gym, office have been added facing SOUTH…..and the city changed the zonning for the abbey (formerly a terra cotta/statuary store) and here lounge (t-shirt shop), and now varsity which affects my neighborhood with outdoor amphlified music….as they say, “until you’ve lived in our shoes” well, you just haven’t a clue…..i’m not even going to go into all of the drunks walking through our area and peeing on our property….that said, i’ll repeat what i said in the last post and that is that i’m not trying to shut these places down, but when you have insanely loud music outdoors (not inside a club) until 4am, it’s just crazy….shouldn’t my area have a right to quality of life too?….i guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this issue…..

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  19. admin says:

    My point, which you affirm, is that it was already clearly growing as the center of gay nightlife for Los Angeles when you moved in. Of course it continued to evolve over the years, and that should have been foreseeable. When you moved in, even back when there were fewer people going to fewer clubs, you must have decided you would accept some of the impact on quality of life from that proximity. Did you not think that the nightlife would expand? Anyone buying property is always taking a gamble about impact to their property by neighbors… whether that be nightlife, commercial activity, freeways, or just the person next door who doesn’t mow their lawn. Even when looking at a property next to vacant land, most people will want to know what that land might turn into one day to factor that into their decisions. Moving in next to a booming and growing nightlife area in 1987 was a big gamble you decided to take. The writing was on the wall that things would continue growing. Nobody promised you that there would be a moratorium on development in the commercial area when you bought your home. It goes without saying that the clubs shouldn’t have the right to do whatever they want, but I don’t think that’s the case here. And you’re right, I have not walked in your shoes… but that’s because I never would have moved into that area in the first place because I expected that it would be like what you’re unhappy with.

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  20. admin says:

    Just to add, I’m not trying to be unsympathetic. If there are issues where the clubs and city are just out of control, I think the community would like to know and discuss what might be done to improve the situation. But I think there are always going to be questions when you air your complaints if they are over things that are to be expected in an area adjacent to nightlife. And I do think that most people want to see that area continue to expand and become more exciting with regards to nightlife. But again, for me, I’d never put myself in the situation to have to deal with issues as a resident in the first place.

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  21. WEHO says:

    do you always spend so much time commenting on your own website???…interesting that i checked the box to be notified when comments are posted, but i didn’t receive any emails with your comments…

    you are just ridiculous….no, we couldnt have guessed that the closed-up clubs “back in the day” would be given free rein to add patios and leave their doors open to music blaring across the land, so you dont have a point there at all…..give me your address and i’ll pull my SUV up out front and turn my stereo way up until 4am….

    yur ridiculous

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