David Mendez

Hennessey sues over dining deck removal order

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A sign posted by Rebel Republic notifying diners of the closure. Photo courtesy Suzanne McCune

 

by David Mendez

Rebel Republic owner Paul Hennessey is suing the City of Redondo Beach over the City Council’s order to end an Outdoor Dining Deck Pilot Program and for Hennessey to remove outdoor seating that has replaced three parking spaces on Catalina Avenue.

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The lawsuit, which was filed on May 23 in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks “costs, interests, and such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper,” though its main goal would be for Rebel Republic to keep the private dining deck that owners say customers love, to the tune of 1,000 customer signatures in support.

The Council voted 4-0, with one abstention, to end the program in November, finding that the program was “unfair” to businesses unable to build a dining deck of their own. In April, the Council voted 3-2, to plan a discussion to extend the dining deck program, but the decision was vetoed by Mayor Bill Brand.

In the months since the initial vote, Councilman Nils Nehrenheim said that he has had discussions with Hennessey to find a dining deck solution, to no avail.

“You’ll find no more reasonable man than Paul Hennessey. He’s open to any reasonable solution with the city,” said attorney Carmen Trutanich. “Right now, the goal is just to maintain the status quo until we can get a resolution.”

Council’s decision was made, in part, based on a survey of Riviera Village businesses that indicated a mixed reaction to Rebel Republic’s dining area.

Tapas y Vino owner Andy Di Girgis, whose restaurant sits down the block from Rebel Republic, called the project “one-sided, unfair [and] biased,” and said that “everyone should be given the opportunity to have one.”

Trutanich argues that the program was “open to all businesses,” though he admits that, logistically, only a few would be able to make it work.

In setting up the pilot program in 2015, city staff identified two potential dining deck locations within Riviera Village, one in front of what is now Rebel Republic, the other in front of Redondo Beach Brewing Company. Only Hennessey applied for the program.

“We all embrace the idea of outdoor dining – that’s something all of the merchants would love to have,” said Lauren Ray, president of the Riviera Village Association. “[But] it’s taking parking places that should be open to the public.”

The goal, she said, is to create a win for everyone, from restaurants to retailers to professional services in the Village.

City Attorney Michael Webb noted that because the deck is on a public street, Redondo Beach has a number of options to deal with the deck, including possible removal.

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