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Museum of Tolerance expansion gets a big boost

March 19, 2009 |  6:04 pm

The Museum of Tolerance would be allowed to expand but would not be allowed to rent space for private parties under recommendations made by a senior city planner in the Los Angeles Planning Department.

In a report prepared for the March 26 city Planning Commission meeting, Jim Tokunaga advised that the panel reject the museum’s request that it be allowed to dramatically extend its exhibition hours and to lease reception and banquet space that could accommodate hundreds of guests until as late as midnight six nights a week.

Rather, Tokunaga recommended that the Pico Boulevard institution, the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, be allowed to hold two special events a month from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and to extend its exhibition hours until 9:30 p.m. one night a week, rather than the five the museum had requested.

The special events could admit a maximum of 500 people, as opposed to the 800 the museum had wanted.

Holding banquets, wedding receptions and bar mitzvah parties is "really not a function of a museum, if their goal is for educational purposes," Tokunaga said in an interview. He also recommended that the museum cafe be available only to museum patrons and not to the general public, as the museum had requested.

Tokunaga said he took into account the concerns of nearby residents, who had contended that the expansion would exacerbate traffic and parking problems, and overwhelm the scale of the single-family-home neighborhood.

--Martha Groves