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
Why is Kerry Krull being made out as the bad guy here? I truly don’t understand it. Yes, the cafe is very popular which causes there to be lots more parked cars than there used to be in the area. Ms. Krull has posted signs in her cafe encouraging patrons to use the city lot, and to be respectful of the neighboring businesses. Also, there are not hordes of persons using the wi-fi for hours at the cafe. I have gone to the cafe many times, and absolutely do not find that to be the situation.
Have the complaining businesses encouraged their established clientele to use the city lot? Won’t reducing the parking limit to one hour just make it more difficult for shoppers to check out the various stores on the block? In my opinion the established businesses were so used to the dead street that the liveliness of a successful business has been a shock to them. If you go the Toluca Lake and try to find parking along Riverside to go to the cafes along there, you will find the same problem. With, yes, curbside seating! But I don’t hear of the same issues. Probably because those businesses are used to having many successful businesses along the street.
I’m surprised to learn in your response to my comment on a previous blog entry that you did not notice the parking information sign posted at the cafe. Maybe because you already had your mind made up about the situation? Perhaps that is why you have not heard back from the owners of RtB.
As a supporter of small businesses in Burbank I find it very discouraging that a successful business with deep roots in Burbank is being made to be the villain. That is the slant I see here with your reporting of the situation.
I see you have caught that fever of throwing out allegations without regards to the facts. I have never dined at Romancing the Bean, so no, I would not have noticed signs INSIDE the cafe. In the my previous post, “City Buzz: Magnolia Park Merchants Seek Solutions to Parking Problems” the description of Romancing the Bean is very complimentary — including links to favorable reviews — one here on Media City Groove!
The facts speak for themselves. Just like that “cease and desist” letter speaks volumes.
Oh how silly. You don’t have to dine at the cafe to see the prominent sign by the front door. As to allegations, it is those of the neighboring stores that their business is being damaged because of customers of the cafe that I find ludicrous. Hordes of people are not sitting in the cafe for hours, as they allege. Those are the non factual allegations.
What allegations have I made? I’m really curious about that charge against me. I am truly just a supporter of local stores, and don’t want to see successful ones brought down by such inanity.
Silly is right. You say you’re”… a supporter of local stores?” The only one you’re defending is Romancing and Bean. The neighboring stores have rights as well. The city council thinks their complaints are credible that’s why a proposal of solutions and changes are being worked up by city staff.
Oh my goodness, of course I’m defending RtB, as they are the store being attacked in this situation. As to the city council, I watched the council meeting, and they agreed that more should be done by the city in enforcing the parking rules and ensuring better use of the existing parking lot with a lighted crosswalk. They did not disparage Ms Krull as you and her neighbors have. I’m surprised that someone who represents herself as a journalist would be so one sided in your coverage of this story. It’s very disappointing.
Hot stuff, Fronnie. and I think you are doing a great job reporting on this.
While the fact that a free city parking lot sits largely unused a stones throw from these whiners businesses is crazy-making, the nuttiest part of it all is the idea of installing a traffic signal at Lima.
With the signals already in place at Avon and California we’d have red lights at three consecutive intersections–factor in the Hollywood Way-Porto’s traffic and you will have a REAL problem here.
These hysteric merchants and their sense of entitlement.. . . . we are gonna riot in Magnolia Park! Whoopeee!
“The neighboring stores have rights as well.”
Nobody has “rights” to public parking spots on the street. They all have equal rights to spots for whatever the time limit is there – that’s it.
Shouldn’t matter whose customer’s they are – ALL the spots on the street could be used by the coffee house – and that would be perfectly fine. Nobody’s rights are above the new place on the block. I’m also wondering if the complaining shops have signs pointing to the public lot.
This should be question number ONE for the city council – do ALL of you who are complaining also ask your customers to park in the public parking lot?