A unanimous vote at a special city council meeting Wednesday night, concluded the OUT on Robertson Pilot Program street closure. Council members agreed to give David Cooley, the owner of The Abbey Food & Bar and the Chapel, a two-weekend notice before ending the experiment that closed a section of Robertson Boulevard to vehicular traffic on the weekends.
The City Council received an update and evaluation on the Out on Robertson Pilot Program and provided further direction at the special council meeting.
Option 3: Allow Live Entertainment as part of Pilot Program
Option 4: Conclude Pilot Program
Several letters from community members asked for an end to the OUT on Robertson Pilot Program prior to the special council meeting. Five speakers spoke in Public Comments. They also asked for an option 4 vote and spoke against the program, which was costly and seemed to mostly benefit The Abbey.
“I don’t think there is a future for this project,” said Mel Greenwalt. “I don’t even think of it as a project. I don’t know how you measure success. Only one business benefitted from this, and that is the Abbey and The Chapel, David Cooley. I don’t know if anyone ever consulted with Anawalt [Lumber] or Hedley’s [Restaurant], but this is not something like CicLAvia, which the city of L.A. had success with. I beg you Mayor Pro-Tem Meister, shoot this down. People in West Hollywood West Association do not want this.”
Jordan David said he thought it was a great idea that never came to be. “I envisioned a 3rd Street Promenade with fun and inclusive activations that created space with community, beyond just getting wasted at the bars,” he said. “But then it launched and I watched in horror as cars were towed in mass with no warning. Beyond the City calendar, outreach to the businesses and community never came. Since the launch, there has really been a failure to activate this space, except when the council needed it for a photo op, even then all the action really stayed inside The Abbey…”
“I encourage you to vote for option four that will end the weekly 32-hour closure of Robertson Boulevard,” said Manny Rodriguez. “The Pilot Program has proven that there is nothing there. There’s only been an advantage to one business. It has inhibited the mobility of the residents, caused longer car trips around the detour, terminated much needed short-term parking, caused great expense to visitors who were towed, only to accommodate an empty ghost town all at the cost of tax payers almost $200,000…”
Council member John D’Amico wanted to give The Abbey/Chapel advance notice before ending the program. He wanted to explore options for an OUT Zone at the Abbey. However, Mayor Pro-Tempore Lauren Meister pointed out that The Abbey already had an OUT Zone at the neighboring alleyway known as Abbey Road, which was not used during the Robertson closures.
“I think we should go with option 4 to conclude the program and have the Abbey use the alley space that they were given before for the OUT Zone so that it’s not in the way of vacant parking,” said Mayor Pro-Tempore Meister. “I always believed in this program–I voted for it, I wanted to see it succeed, I don’t think that it did.”
Council member Shyne pointed out that the Out on Robertson Pilot Program was never meant to solely benefit The Abbey, but The Abbey stepped up and made the best of it. She said the city reached out to other businesses, but they just didn’t want to do it. She agreed that what she hoped was going to be a farmer’s market, fell short, but the intent was good.
“I think this is a great example of trying something new, seeing if it worked,” said Mayor Lindsey Horvath. “I think when it was first proposed, there was a lot of fear around traffic and all kinds of issues that just never really manifested. I think it’s also fair to say that it didn’t manifest the activity we had hoped either for any number of reasons brought forth by staff and discussed in advance to tonight’s meeting.”
D’Amico motioned to give the program two more weekends until August 2nd to give patrons who are used to the street closure some time to adjust to the change. He asked Staff to work with David Cooley on the option to continue using the OUT Zone at the alley or come up with something new. There was an amendment to use less staff to patrol the remaining two weekends to save on security costs.
The motioned passed unanimously.