How does the city encourage Hollywood's go-go nightlife, but also make sure the neighborhood is a place where apartment dwelling residents can peacefully live? Good question. A case which highlights that issue, yesterday the city council effectively neutered h.wood, a club on Orange Drive in the Hollywood & Highland Center. While h.wood operators believe they are contributing to the neighborhood nightlife scene, from the neighbors’ point of view, many of whom live in the nearby Madison apartment complex, the club is a noisy nuisance. From the city’s point of view, h.wood is flagrantly violating city rules because it never was approved as a nightclub. When h.wood was granted approvals to operate back in 2007, it was for a restaurant, but “over the three years, it morphed into a nightclub,” " said City Zoning Administrator R. Nicholas Brown, who testified last week before at a Planning and Land Use Management Committee hearing.
Violating its city- issued permit to operate, the club currently offers a cover charge; bottle service; has an unapproved dance floor on the second floor; and doesn't serve food, according to Brown, who even went into the kitchen during an on-site visit and found the ovens to be "cold."
Additionally, the club received 112 complaints in 2009 from the Los Angeles Police Department, far more than other Hollywood clubs, while the club's operators ignored requests by the LAPD to comply with their conditional use permit, according to detectives who testified at the hearing last week.
But the most sensitive issue to everyone involved, including the operators of h.wood, is the issue of the valet service. The club co-opted the large traffic circle on Orange Drive, which is also used by tour buses coming to H&H, to offer valet parking. But as numerous Madison residents testified at last week's hearing, when the club closes at 2am, the traffic circle and the street fill up with loud, drunk patrons waiting for their cars.
While h. wood reps testified they are working to deal with the noise, they asked to be able to keep valet service operating past 11pm, so its patrons don't have to enter the parking lot in Hollywood & Highland. No club goer likes to use public parking, they believe. “The kind of clientele that goes to this place doesn’t want to go into a shopping center, go down three levels to public parking and go up four escalators to get into a facility," h.wood rep Richard Terzian told the PLUM committee. “They are used to, and they want valet parking."
Following last week's PLUM vote to deny h.wood's appeal, the city council yesterday also agreed to move forward with restrictions, forcing it to operate as a restaurant. Among other things, the valet service can longer operate past 11pm or ask for a cover charge. And the club has to move a dance floor from the second floor to the first.
Meanwhile, the City Maven also has more about the situation below, writing that "h.wood is hardly the only Los Angeles establishment to face questions over land use."
· Hollywood Club Could Be Declared a Public Nuisance [City Maven]
· H.wood Reviews [Yelp]