Votes passed on two proposed Echo Park businesses; Ari Bessendorf’s final meeting

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The Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council held its Board of Governors meeting last night with some important agenda items regarding new Echo Park businesses. The meeting also included a brief introduction of candidates for its upcoming elections on April 12th, 2014.

Each candidate was given one minute to speak. There were an estimated one hundred people in attendance. To learn more about the candidates, you can visit EmpowerLA (part of the the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment), which is conducting the election for the neighborhood council. The site offers photos and in-their-own-word bios of each candidate.

A complete candidate forum will be hosted by the Echo Park Neighborhood Council on Tuesday, April 8th at 7 p.m. at Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy (1018 Mohawk St 90026). Public attendees will enjoy free food and refreshments while getting the chance to meet, greet and hear from the candidates.

March 25’s Board of Governors meeting was the final meeting of its type for the current president and board members. Current neighborhood council president Ari Bessendorf has decided not to run again for the upcoming two year term. Bessendorf has been an active president during an increasingly complex and popular period of time for Echo and Elysian Park.

The position is left open for a new representative to step in, of which there are three candidates.

Kwazi Nkrumah
Kwazi Nkrumah, one of three candidates for neighborhood council president

Last night Kwazi Nkrumah, current District 1 representative, stated his hope that he will fill Bessendorf’s place as president.

Regarding initial agenda matters, the Board of Governors agreed unanimously to oppose the iPad program adopted by Superintendent John Deasy of LAUSD. They would rather see those funds go to facility improvement and repair in LAUSD schools. Also in the area of education, the Board unanimously agreed that newly acquired funds under Prop 30 should be directed toward creating smaller class sizes and a full curriculum, including arts education, led by staff that is fairly compensated.

With increasing debates going on within Echo Park about growth, and pending issues such as homelessness and education, the neighborhood council has served as an advisory board whose decisions reach the Los Angeles City Council.

The neighborhood council also serves as an open forum where local residents can get involved in the important decision-making that shapes the Echo Park area. Subcommittees make prior recommendations to the Board of Governors in the areas of planning and land use, public organizations, safety, public works, outreach and more.

Final votes and actions of the GEPENC are used as a gage by governing officials when they take their final votes. For this reason, individuals and private investors who seek to make changes within the boundaries make an appearance at the neighborhood council meetings.

Last night’s meeting heard from two separate business groups. They appealed to the GEPENC to vote in favor of their efforts to operate as each desires; both proposed businesses are on Sunset Blvd.:

1525 Sunset Blvd. (at Laveta Terrace and Sunset) and 2150 Sunset Blvd. (by the Fire Station 20).

Chef Jamie Turrey, owner of a proposed American bistro restaurant to be located at 1525 Sunset Blvd., removed a request for a patio area due to opposition. It was no longer included in the conditions to be voted upon in the meeting. The council unanimously voted last night to send a letter that would request the City of Los Angeles to restrict Turrey’s operations by issuing a CUB (Conditional Use Beverage) license of beer and wine only, versus the full liquor license that he asked for.

And whereas Turrey would like his business to stay open until 2 a.m. on the weekends, the Board unanimously voted to advise restriction on the hours of operation to Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.

The other proposed business, located at 2150 Sunset Blvd., was clear that it plans to operate a wine bar, similar to City Sip, previously in the same location. This one will include retail sales as well.

The owners, Josh Weinstein, Michael Lippman and Jason Piggott had minimal debate with their request to operate, due to fewer residences and opposition surrounding the immediate area. It was, however, unanimously passed that the Board will advise the City that non-amplified music is allowed inside only and not to commence before 6 p.m., as well as a few other minor conditions.

Echo Park wine bar
2150 Sunset Blvd., location of proposed wine bar in Echo Park

To take part in upcoming City Council decisions on these matters, contact your local City Council representative to ask about specific votes on these and other issues in the Echo Park and Elysian Park areas.

Councilmember Gil Cedillo (District 1) can be reached at (213) 473-7001.

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (District 13) can be reached at (213) 473-7013.


The City Council meeting for Jaime Turrey’s proposed American bistro CUB and business details will be held on April 17th at 10 a.m. at City Hall Room 1020. – Updated March 27, 2014, EPF.


When: April 12, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Edendale Branch Public Library

Anyone can vote according to the following rules:

People can vote for the neighborhood council election without being registered voters or without being a citizen. However, voters must live, work or own property within the GEPENC boundaries and declare a stake as well as prove the stakeholder status by providing two forms of documents. A list of acceptable forms of documentation can be found on their website.

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