They’re not impressed by star names.
“We don’t care that Will Smith is the co-owner of this place—I’m not impressed,” said Lisa Sarkin, chairperson of the Land Use Committee of the Studio City Neighborhood Council.
She, and a few other committee members, were admonishing Duane Martin, the owner of the posh new club on Ventura Boulevard called Xen Lounge. Martin (star of “All of Us”) opened the club at 10628 Ventura Blvd. with his wife Tisha Campbell (star of “My Wife and Kids”) and superstar Will Smith.
“We are trying to comply with everything and keep the neighborhood happy,” said Lee Rabun, who came to the meeting on behalf of the club along with Martin. “We’re trying to keep everything upscale and classy.”
Sure, over the past year, locals have seen Denzel Washington, Quentin Tarantino (who lives up the hill), Zooey Deschanel (who lives around the corner), Jamie Foxx, Meagan Good and many other notables come to the club that abuts some fancy million dollar houses up the hill. But star names don’t impress Studio City activists.
In fact, a star (longtime Studio City resident actor Mike Farrell) was on the panel of the Land Use committee while the debate was raging, and both Martin and Rabun shook his hand on the way out.
At the Studio City Neighborhood Council meeting on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the CBS Radford Studios, Sarkin plans to give an update of their meetings with the club owners. (See: http://studiocity.patch.com/groups/events/p/studio-city-neighborhood-council-board-meeting_f71f86c2)
“They have numerous violations of the permits and violations of numerous municipal codes,” Sarkin said.
At the public meeting, Sarkin wasn’t the only person to scold the club. (See the video above.)
Committee member Joann Deutch said directly to the men, “You have walked around us, the line changes, this is the fourth or fifth time they are coming to us for exemptions. They are scofflaws who come in and then do it their own way.”
Martin said the small outdoor dining area that the committee originally agreed would hold only 14 diners now holds 43. Another 53 seats are inside.
“We have tons of paperwork, we are meeting all the requirements,” Martin said, but he conceded that he was misled by some advisers.
Rabun added, “We have had no complaints since New Year’s Eve.”
Not true, according to neighbor Richard Brown, who lives just up the hill on Willowcrest Avenue and said he has called the police for after-hours noise disturbance many times through the year. He pointed out they have movie screenings on the outdoor patio every Wednesday night.
“When I went in to talk to the manager, I was told ‘We don’t have time to work with the neighborhood we’re trying to run an establishment,’ “ Brown said.
Another Studio City resident Barry Johnson noted that a fence was built so close to the curb that car doors won’t open.
“I am amazed how many times you grant one thing and they do something else regardless of the law,” Johnson said.
Another neighbor, Joseph Casell said, “How detrimental to the community they are to have an outdoor movie night and outdoor karaoke. It’s extremely disruptive.”
Committee member Gail Steinberg, said “it was refreshing at first to hear what was going to be put there, but I’m disappointed what is going on. We had worked out a nice compromise.”
Fellow committee member Mel Randall said, “We have a Specific Plan for that area and this has been breached every way possible. We can’t have it.”
Martin said he hoped to work out some compromise with the committee enough to satisfy the Neighborhood Council. He even offered complimentary meals and cocktails to the committee members.
Again, they were not impressed.