A controversial restaurant, bar and pool hall in Brentwood has won its fight for survival to the surprise of almost everyone involved.
After a three-hour City Hall hearing, the Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday granted Q's Billiard Parlor, 11835 Wilshire Blvd., the conditional-use permit it needed to continue to serve liquor and operate pool tables. The decision overturned a ruling by a city zoning administrator, and dismayed neighborhood residents who maintain that Q's has been a nuisance and even a menace since it opened two years ago.
The panel approved the permit with the requirement that Q's close one to two hours earlier, and a promise to review the night spot's compliance in a year.
The reversal was particularly surprising given a switch by City Councilman Marvin Braude, who represents the area. Braude, who had sent an aide to speak in favor of Q's at a February hearing, recommended denial of the permit.
"To be honest with you, I'm shocked, because everyone was spelling doom for us," said co-owner Yossi Kviatkovsky. "I'm shocked at the flip-flop by Braude, but I can understand it, because he's a politician."
Taylor Burke, a leading critic of Q's, thought he had the battle won when both Braude and the Police Department opposed the permit.
"What more does it take to get a problem solved?" asked Burke, whose apartment faces the alley behind Q's. "I think the city has abdicated its responsibility, its duty to protect the citizens."
In an unusual personal appearance before the zoning panel, Braude said a recent flood of complaints to his office and reports of the intense conflict between Q's supporters and opponents had convinced him that the business did not belong in the densely populated residential neighborhood.
"The conflict is too great," he said. "The amount of activity, combined with the lateness of the hour and the use of alcoholic beverages, makes it unsuitable."
Apartment and condominium dwellers in the neighborhood, especially those whose units face the alley behind the business, charged that drunken, rowdy Q's patrons create late-night traffic, noise and parking problems, commit vandalism and sometimes threaten people who complain.
"These people come out, and whether they are inebriated or not, they certainly do a marvelous impersonation of people who are," said Patrick McGuire, a nearby resident. McGuire, who manages five apartment buildings in the neighborhood, said four of his former tenants cited Q's as the reason they moved.
Another apartment manager, Doris Sugerman, claimed that Q's is "primarily a bar and a pool table establishment that only incidentally serves food."
Critics of the business referred to a police report listing 66 crimes committed at Q's in 1989 and 1990. But the report also showed a sharp decline in the number of incidents after December, 1989.
Owners Kviatkovsky, David Houston and Avi Fattal insisted that they were being blamed for problems caused by other businesses.
Board members predicted that most of the problems would be solved by forcing Q's to close earlier than 2 a.m. As a condition of the permit, the panel imposed closing times of midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends.
The board also made mandatory some of the corrective measures that Q's has taken voluntarily--including bicycle security patrol of the neighborhood, free valet parking and policies forbidding customers from using the back door or parking in the alley late at night.
"They've been breaking every agreement they've made for two years," Burke complained after the hearing. "There's absolutely no way to enforce these conditions. It shifts the burden of monitoring onto us."
According to Kviatkovsky, the board struck a just compromise between ignoring neighbors' complaints and forcing a business with 60 employees to close.
"I think it's very fair," he said. "We're very happy and we're relieved."