House of Rock operators allowed to keep partying -- for now
The owners of a Santa Monica mansion who have recently drawn fury from neighbors complaining about massive, disruptive parties, can continue hosting their events on the property for at least another four weeks.
After almost two hours of public comment and a lengthy interrogation of homeowner Elaine Culotti, the Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday failed to pass an emergency ordinance meant to halt festivities at the mutimillion-dollar estate marketed by House of Rock LLC.
Though the council expressed serious concern about the remaining five events planned through early December, Councilman Bobby Shriver argued that even if the his colleagues passed the emergency ordinance, Culotti’s attorney would sue the city and the ordinance would be stalled in court until after at least one major event was held.
The council ultimately split 3-3, with Councilman Terry O'Day absent. The council needed at least five "yes" votes to pass the emergency ordinance.
The council later voted unanimously to consider similar regular and emergency ordinances at its next meeting Nov. 13.
“They were uncomfortable with the 'emergency' aspects of this,” said Benjamin M. Reznik, an attorney for the homeowner, Culotti. “I think they made the right choice. I’m very pleased that they stood their ground and did not fall for all this hyperbole.”
More than a dozen Santa Monica residents packed the council chambers to reiterate their concerns Tuesday. About the same number of people involved with music and charity organizations spoke in support of Culotti, saying she was simply a philanthropist being stifled by self-interested neighbors.
Some of those neighbors were especially concerned about the next event, planned for Oct. 30. Residents testified and Culotti confirmed that the radio station KIIS FM has been giving out tickets as contest prizes to what the station, on its website, calls “A really SIIK Halloween Party” held at “The House of Rock in Santa Monica.”
Like previous events, the Halloween party will benefit a charity –- this time, The Painted Turtle –- but residents and council members alike said they were concerned that social media and marketing on a radio station with millions of listeners could create what one resident called “complete chaos.”
“I am very concerned that if we don’t pass this as an emergency ordinance, and we say 'Let’s see what happens on the 30th,' we will be very effectively locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, beaten to death and the cart carried away,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Gleam Davis, who voted in favor of the emergency ordinance. “The most problematic party is the one on the 30th as far as I can tell and putting things off … gives the neighbors on La Mesa absolutely no security.”
When the council again considers an ordinance in November, the outcome of the Halloween event will be clear, Shriver said, and if things go awry, it will be easier for the city to defend any ordinance it passes, in court.
That was good enough for Richard Corlin, a neighbor who lives on La Mesa Drive and complained about clogged traffic the nights of the parties. Though he wished for an immediate outright ban, he agreed that had the emergency ordinance passed, it would have been rendered useless for the next party if challenged in court.
Still, Corlin and other coucil members said the pressure is now on Culotti to ensure the next event goes off without a hitch.
“From an emotional standpoint, it wasn’t everything we wanted,” Corlin said of the council's actions. “But from a legal and public policy standpoint, it was perfect. The city of Santa Monica came out ahead tonight.”
— Matt Stevens
Photo: A mansion in Santa Monica is drawing complaints from neighbors who say parties there clog the residential street. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times.