Your favorite Venice restaurant patio may soon be shrinking. After last month's decision by the West L.A. Planning Commision to limit Gjelina's number of seats to 60 (including only 14 on the patio), the city Department of Building and Safety this week has issued an "order to comply." That means an inspector will be dropping by to check on the number of seats, and if the planning commission's decision is flouted the restaurant's conditional use permit could be jeopardized.
Gjelina owner Fran Camaj could not be reached at the restaurant for comment. But Venice Stakeholders Assn. President Mark Ryavec, who has helped lead a charge against the squeeze on parking along Abbot Kinney Boulevard and increasing noise from patrons at bars and restaurants, expects the planning commission's decision to send a message to restaurateurs. If Gjelina wants more than 60 seats, the number allowed under its current permit, it has to apply for a new permit and provide additional parking.
"This is the tip of the iceberg. [Gjelina] is the most egregious case of what's happening on Abbot Kinney," Ryavec said. "Our neighborhood is both blessed and bedeviled by this new popularity of Abbot Kinney and all the new establishments. Many of the buildings have got grandfathered parking, which means they don't provide any parking. And so the patrons are all parking in the residential neighborhoods." Ryavec said that some Venice Stakeholders Assn. members counted up to 120 seats at Gjelina.
Meanwhile, the battle for better parking in Venice continues to be waged. The Venice Stakeholders Assn. is contesting plans for another Camaj-owned restaurant down the street, which would provide stacked parking via a car lift. "Our advisor-architect says it's not credible," Ryavec said.
Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 450-1429, www.gjelina.com.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo: The Gjelina patio. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times