Jul 26, 2014
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City Considers Breaking Up Fancy House Parties

Proposed "emergency" ordinance takes aim at the "House of Rock," a luxury home near the Riviera Country Club in Santa Monica used as an event venue for big fundraisers.

City Considers Breaking Up Fancy House Parties City Considers Breaking Up Fancy House Parties City Considers Breaking Up Fancy House Parties City Considers Breaking Up Fancy House Parties

Showing off the designer diggs you intend to sale by hosting big parties, even ones for good causes, could soon be illegal in Santa Monica.

The Santa Monica City Council will take up on Tuesday night an emergency ordinance that designed to pull the plug on large fundraisers planned at an historic home on La Mesa Drive, dubbed "The House of Rock." It would apply citywide and affect all gatherings of 150 people or more at single-family homes that operate as "event facilities for the commercial purpose of selling that property."

Because it's classified as an "emergency," the ordinance would take effect immediately. (Typically, ordinances are adopted only after a second vote of the council and take effect 30 days after.)

"It’s just shocking they would go down this path," said Ben Reznick, an attorney representing the La Mesa Drive home's owners, Greg Briles and Elaine Culotti.

Formerly home to Broadway star Kathryn Grayson, the 1926 English Cottage-Tudor Revival sits on a bluff overlooking Santa Monica Canyon and Riviera Country Club.

It was renovated last year by high-end designers commissioned to work independently on rooms but under the same theme of music. The owners also secured sponsorships from name-brand companies whose products were incorporated into the so-called design rooms.

The 10,000 square foot home has since been a stage to some swanky fundraisers featuring concerts and recording sessions by bands such as Shiny Toy Guns.

Three such events have drawn crowds of between 400 and 500 people, and as many as five more are planned through Dec. 6. Afterward, the house will be put up for sale, according to Steve Getzug, who was asked to speak on behalf of the owners.

"Her interest has always been to improve the home, to live in it and enjoy it, and sale it and make a profit in the turning of the home," he said of Culotti.

Reznick, her attorney, said he and his client have offered to work with disgruntled neighbors who say living next to the House of Rock is like living next door to a night club. He claims the ordinance would have a "chilling" effect on Santa Monica.

"Don’t take away the rights of homeowners to host events," he said.

But city staffers contend the parties "differ substantially" from the occasional political or charitable fundraiser "both in frequency, purpose, advertising and intensity of its impact" on the neighborhood, according to their report to the City Council.

The proposed ordinance reads:

It will not preclude marketing single-family residential real estate in Santa Monica through standard means. Nor will it preclude large social gatherings, charitable events or political fundraisers in residential neighborhoods;

It continues:

[It] is merely intended to preclude the operation of one particular and specific type of marketing scheme that creates extreme nuisance conditions and thereby degrades public welfare, safety and quality of life in residential neighborhoods, and is particularly likely to proliferate.

The Santa Monica City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall at 1685 Main St. To view the night's complete agenda, click here.


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