Design Review Board Votes to Disapprove Proposed Hydration Room Project

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

The Pacific Palisades Design Review Board voted to disapprove a proposed project as presented that would change the use of the former Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf space from a cafe to a medical office during a virtual meeting Wednesday, September 22.

The meeting called for the final review of The Hydration Room, which is slated to be located at 15278 Antioch Street.

Applicant representative Cason Hall explained during the meeting that the project team did not significantly alter the proposed project from the last meeting on August 25, but instead prepared responses to the suggestions they received at that time.

In relation to the signage size, the DRB suggested the sign area should not exceed two square feet for each of the first 20 feet of the building’s frontage. Hall said the applicant has demonstrated that the proposed sign area remains under the maximum size permitted and is compliant, measuring at 23 square feet total.

The board also suggested the applicant consider eliminating “IV and Injection Therapy” from the signage as it advertises a product and procedure.

“The signage for all Hydration Room storefronts has included the terms ‘IV and Injection Therapy’ since the business’ inception in 2014 and has remained crucial in the business’ branding,” Hall said. “Keeping the wording ‘IV and Injection Therapy’ also plays a big part in letting the public know what type of service The Hydration Room offers. The tenant has noted that at times, patrons have confused The Hydration Room with selling other types of services related to hydration and by providing the words ‘IV and Injection Therapy,’ it will prevent unknowing patrons from mistakenly walking into the business, also addressing the DRB’s concern that members of the community could be mistakenly exposed to the treatment and therapy.”

Hall said the applicant did not revise plans to include full height wall partitions or window tinting to obstruct the public’s view into the storefront per the DRB’s previous recommendation.

“The applicant acknowledges the DRB’s recommendation to ensure privacy views from the street, but by closing and obscuring views inside and out, the tenant space would be a closed off and more dark feel,” Hall explained. “The tenant would like to keep the space as open and as light as possible so that the patient experience is lively and spa-like.”

Board Members Leah Cox and Barbara Kohn said they were concerned the issues the DRB raised were not addressed. DRB Chair Donna Vaccarino added the business is not appropriate for the location.

“The DRB does not feel that the proposed business enhances or protects the community-oriented uses or preserves the quality of the existing residential area,” Vaccarino said. “The proposed business is inappropriate for the site, surroundings and environmental setting, located across a narrow street adjacent to a community park, the Village Green. The proposed business is not compatible and consistent with the general character of the community … there comes a time when the DRB has to step forward on whether a use in this location is appropriate … it doesn’t belong in that site.”

Landlord Sean Miller argued against the DRB’s deliberations and in favor of The Hydration Room, a “financially strong tenant” that is going to “support the community … for a long time.”

Vaccarino made a motion to disapprove the project as presented based on the proposed use of this site. The board voted unanimously that the project be denied.

City Planning Assistant Nick Vasuthasawat said the use aspect of the project is going to be left to city staff and it is not within the authority of the board to act on the land use.

“This is a director-level determination, so the project can still be approved by the city,” according to a representative from the planning department. “Planning staff will write a Letter of Determination, which may or may not include the DRB’s recommendations. The LOD should be issued in the next two months.”

Design Review Board Votes to Disapprove Proposed Hydration Room Project