Areana is Closed for Skating
Editors Note: this story is updated from last weeks story entitled SMOKING GUN on Culver City Observer's website
By Stephen Hadland
Prior to the closing of the Culver City Ice Arena last Sunday Culver City officials had informed the Karagozian family, who are the property owners, and Planet Granite, the new lessee, that the property is zoned strictly for ice skating and no other commercial purposes.
Any rezoning will require City Council approval and may take many months to accomplish. Changes in zoning will also be reviewed using criteria pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act.
The documents were located at city hall after an exhaustive search of records by city officials. Council chambers have swelled in recent weeks with community members lamenting the loss of the rink and pushing for the city to become involved in the battle to save the popular venue.
According to city officials, a zoning use variance was granted to the Culver City Ice Arena in 1960 because the parking lot extends well into areas zoned for residential development. However, the variance limited the property use to ice rink only.
City observers said that any rezoning is sure to have an uphill battle with the city council.
Councilman Andy Weissman has worked for years with the parties to try and negotiate an agreement to keep the rink open and Councilman Mehaul O'Leary has been a vocal supporter of the rink. In addition, Councilman Jim Clarke and Mayor Jeff Cooper face reelection in just over two months and it appears unlikely any movement on rezoning will take place soon, city observers added.
One local attorney told the Observer that litigation is sure to follow.
The full statement released by the city manager's office reads as follows:
"Today, the City of Culver City notified the Property Owner and Planet Granite, the New Lessee of the above property, of the following:
The City of Culver City has been evaluating information relating to the proposed change of use by Planet Granite of the Culver City Ice Arena. At the urging of the City Council, city staff continued its comprehensive, top to bottom records search regarding the Culver City Ice Arena property. As a result of the effort, late Monday evening the search disclosed the original document in an archival file that authorized the current use of the property for an ice rink and parking.
"That document is a Use Variance granted in 1960, which permitted the ice rink and related parking to extend onto residentially zoned property. The Use Variance is expressly limited to the ice rink use, and does not allow other commercial uses, without further City approvals.
"Therefore, given Planet Granite's plans to utilize the existing ice rink building and surface parking for a new use, a discretionary approval process would be required. Specifically, a zone change would be needed in order to accommodate the proposed use. A zone change would require review and recommendation by the Planning Commission and ultimate approval by the City Council at a public hearing. Since the zone change is a discretionary approval, it is also subject to environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act."