The dispute over parking in the 3400 block of Magnolia Boulevard has taken an ugly and disturbing turn. Over a period of several months, some of the merchants have spoken out and contacted city officials about parking problems along that block. At the center of the dispute is the coffeehouse/cafe, Romancing the Bean.
No longer a sleepy street known only to dealers and buyers of antiques and collectibles, the boulevard is now attracting shoppers and diners who see it as a trendy and cool place to visit. Romancing the Bean has benefited greatly from the image change. Merchants tell me that the decision by the eatery to offer free WiFi has made a bad situation even worse. They say customers at the Bean park for hours on the block, even though there are two-hour restriction parking signs posted. The merchants claim they’re getting complaints from their customers and losing business because of the lack of parking in front of their stores and shops.
The merchants say they’ve tried to talk to Bean owner, Kerry Krull, about the parking issue. Kim Persinger of Burbank Antiques says, “she doesn’t want to work with us.” I have heard Krull’s responses have ranged from denying there’s an issue to bullying and threats. Last week, Krull ratcheted up the rhetoric and went on the attack. She had a “cease and desist” letter delivered to two of her neighbor merchants and to numerous city officials. A copy of the letter is below.
The letter is interesting and confusing for a number of reasons. First, Laree Adel is the owner of the Best of Times antique shop at 3401 West Magnolia Boulevard, not Burbank Antiques as stated in the letter. Ralph and Kim Persinger are the owners of Burbank Antiques at 3423 West Magnolia Boulevard. After an unidentified male dropped the “Cease and Desist” letter off at Burbank Antiques on Wednesday, August 13, Ralph Persinger contacted a lawyer and was told “… .she’s just trying to shake us up.” Well, the letter is causing all sorts of ripples and rumbles on the block and around B-town.
The tone of the letter is in sharp contrast to the impression Krull presented in a Burbank Leader article, dated August 15, 2014. ” Of course we want everyone to thrive,” Krull said in the article. “No one wants to come all the way over here just for a cafe.” Also, Krull reportedly claims “customers stay for 45 minutes on average.” In the “cease and desist” letter she said, “For the record, our average guest spends between 30 to 45 minutes in the Bean.” Hmm if that is the case, Krull should be in agreement with her merchant neighbors that a switch to a one-hour parking restriction on their stretch of Magnolia Boulevard would work for all the businesses.
Sidewalk seating and city permits
Krull’s letter referred to her “lawful sidewalk seating.” Well, Mayor Dr. David Gordon at the recent August 12 city council meeting asked for a review of what he described as “encroachment in the right away with respect to dining. Because some of these chairs and seats are right up against the curb” along Magnolia Boulevard.
Also, Krull mentioned her “… permit to conduct business.” She might be interested to know that an administrative use permit or a conditional use permit can be revoked or modified. Patrick Prescott, deputy city planner, says either could happen “… if the businesses is operated in a way that does not comply with the conditions of approval or that becomes a public nuisance.” So the Bean’s permits are not chiseled in stone.
One has to wonder what were city officials thinking when the Bean got permits to operate at 3413 West Magnolia without any customer parking? Also, should changes be made to those permits now that there is clear evidence of parking problems? City officials are going to have to answer these tough questions.
Mark Scott, city manager, plans to come back to council shortly with a proposal of solutions for the 3400 block of Magnolia parking issues. That would be a good time to answer the tough questions buzzing around about the issuing of permits to the Bean.
(Editor’s Note: I have offered Romancing the Bean partners Kerry Krull and Kevin Stolpe a chance to comment on the parking issues. So far, neither has accepted the offer.)
For more on the dispute see Talk of the Town: Magnolia Park parking dispute showdown