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Residents Complain of Noise at Inn : Business: They air their concerns about La Venta before the City Council. Management has promised a number of anti-noise measures.

October 06, 1994|JEFF KASS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It provides a picturesque location for couples to exchange their wedding vows. But it also provides a headache for city residents.

La Venta Inn, a popular Palos Verdes Estates banquet facility built in 1923, has come under fire from nearby residents, who say the inn's success has brought noise, traffic and outsiders to their neighborhood. Homeowners used to hear birds at sunset; "instead, we hear 'Devil With a Blue Dress On,' " said Dwyn Robbie, one of seven residents, including a representative of the local homeowners association, who took their complaints to the City Council recently.

Residents say noise pollution from the inn at 796 Via Del Monte, which is surrounded by homes, has become unbearable in the past three months.

Hermosa Beach-based New York Food Co., which runs the inn, says neither noise nor the number of events have increased since it took over operations two years ago.

Still, the inn held a scampi and chicken dinner for 80 neighbors in August and listened to their concerns. Then last month, the inn sent a memo to City Manager James Hendrickson outlining anti-noise measures, such as installing a new sound system and prohibiting bands. The inn also plans to close an hour earlier, at 10 p.m.

But because inn contracts have already been signed, sometimes up to a year in advance, many of the changes will not take effect until 1995.

The City Council did not take any formal action last week because the item was not on the agenda. The residents complained during the public comments period. But Mayor James Nyman suggested that city officials check in a month to see whether complaints have decreased.

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Dante Angelos, the inn's director, said noise may have increased recently because party-goers drift outside in the warm weather. She also said that summer is popular for weddings, and that noise from nearby parties has been attributed to the inn. She said inn gatherings average from 125 to 150 people.

Palos Verdes Estates Police Lt. Ed Jaakola said the department has received numerous noise complaints about the inn recently, but has tried to balance the needs of the business with the concerns of residents.

The inn was built as a real estate office and viewing location for prospective buyers in an area with few roads in the 1920s. It was used as a Navy observation station during World War I. Later, the inn became popular for gatherings ranging from ballet lessons to football team banquets.

The inn is owned by three daughters of the late Peg Schnetzler, who bought it in the 1940s.

Bob Eskridge and his family, who live in Palos Verdes Estates, operated the inn until 1992, when their lease expired, Eskridge said. He said there were strict noise controls on events, which averaged from 90 to 100 people.

The city's noise ordinance focuses on construction work, and does not apply to the inn, Hendrickson said. But, he added, he will meet with inn managers and the police chief this week to discuss the complaints.

"We have to discuss a good neighbor policy at La Venta," Hendrickson said. "It's going to be a judgment call."

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