Challenge Issued to Manhattan Beach Eatery's Expansion Plans

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Manhattan Beach resident and a citizens group have filed a legal action challenging the city's approval of the expansion and additional hours of operation of a local restaurant, saying the additional noise and other likely environmental impacts were not properly assessed.

Donald McPherson and Coastal Defender brought the petition Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the city and the City Council, challenging the city's approval of a resolution allowing the Manhattan Beach Post restaurant in the 1100 block of Manhattan Avenue to expand its size, hours and alcohol service via an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act.

The petition seeks a court order setting aside the City Council's May 14 approval of the restaurant's plans until the proper environmental considerations are weighed. The court action also asks a judge to order the city to release documents relevant to the city's approval of the Manhattan Beach Post plans.

A representative for the city could not be reached for comment.

McPherson lives downtown and is “personally impacted by intensified late-night operations of eating and drinking places there,” the petition states.

Coastal Defender is a non-profit corporation operating “to protect the quality of life in the City of Manhattan Beach,” the petition states.

McPherson is Coastal Defender's president, the petition states.

The Manhattan Beach Post is currently 3,285 square feet, according to the petition. The owners want to absorb an adjacent 1,447 square feet taken up by a former Subway sandwich franchise and to stay open until 1 a.m. on weekends, an increase of an hour from the current midnight closing and a “deviation from most similar businesses in the city,” according to the petition.

City Council members based their approval of the restaurant's plans “on their stated belief that the restaurant owner is a responsible operator and personally reliable, not on an evaluation of the possible environmental impacts of the significant expansion,” the suit alleges.

The City Council also did not take into consideration the likelihood that a future owner “can and will operate the combined premises more as a nightclub,” the petition states.

The council members, in approving the restaurant expansion, relied upon a Class 1 categorical exemption from CEQA over the objections of McPherson and Coastal Defender, the petition states. That exemption is granted where there is a negligible expansion of use.

The Manhattan Beach Municipal Code requires that the city find that a new or expanded proposed use complies with the city's standards, including the noise ordinance, the petition states.

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