By Jason Islas
September 26, 2012 -- Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis will ask the Council to look Tuesday at a house being used as a venue for charity parties in one of Santa Monica's wealthiest neighborhoods.
Some neighbors have complained that the 10,000-square-foot House of Rock -- located on La Mesa Road -- has been used for at least two large parties, which have included arc lights and shuttles to carry guests from a remote parking lot to the house.
“I actually walked by an event a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday evening,.” said Davis, who plans to bring up the issue as a 13 item. “It seemed to me to be an event of an inappropriate size and nature for a residential size.
“I was distressed to see six or seven passenger vans to take guests to and from the Will Rogers parking lot,” she said.
Said Bloom, “I've been listening to the neighbors and want to get something on (the agenda) with Mayor Pro Tem Davis.”
What that “something” is still needs to be ironed out.
The house, which belonged to actress Kathryn Grayson until her death in 2010, was bought by designer Elaine Culotti -- owner of Porta Bella Design -- and turned into a “show house,” which means Culotti invited several designers to each design one room.
Some of Culotti's neighbors are concerned, however, that she is using the property to host these events.
“Even if the developer were a homeowner, the size and frequency of these events would be unacceptable in an R1 neighborhood,” said Dick Newman who lives across from the House of Rock.
Newman said that having an “event house” raises safety issues, adding that the question of whether or not the activity is legal is “immaterial.”
“The first question is zoning. It's not zoned for commercial businesses,” said Council member Bob Holbrook, adding that he's heard from five or six people.
But Culotti, who said she lives at the house, said that it isn't open to the public and the events have nothing to do with making money.
“We've done nothing wrong,” she said. “There's not a process to book a venue. We picked the charities that we want to donate money to.”
The website for House of Rock, 2012houseofrock.com, hasn't yet been launched.
Culotti said that hosting charity events would be a good way for prospective buyers to see the house as well as the work of the other designers. She plans to sell the place by December.
Earlier in September, she hosted an event in support of Music Unites, a non-profit dedicated to bringing music education to underprivileged children.
The City of Hope has scheduled their Songs of Hope VIII event on October 18.
The City Attorney's office maintains that Culotti is well within her rights to host events there.
“While there have been allegations that the proposed events are purely commercial in nature, the evidence indicates that these are events hosted and attended by a homeowner to benefit her charitable causes,” Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen wrote in a letter dated September 18.
But the council will likely weigh in on the issue at its meeting next Tuesday.
“I'm interested in reviewing this and finding out what we can do to preserve peace and quiet and prevent our residential neighborhoods,” Bloom said.