A Modernly Ethnical Quandary

The front of the property a couple houses down from where I live has been the site off and on over the last couple months of much renovation. First they installed this monstrous poured concrete wall whose height and bunker style was way outta scale/tone with its surroundings. Then later the workers came back and with a couple days of much noisy powersawing they carved the wall down by about half. Then they came back in and tore out some shrubs and put in some dramatic wood fencing and matching gate. Still doesn’t quite fit, but it looks good. And since nothing’s happened for the last couple weeks I was figuring the job’s finally done until I walked the dog past it this morning and find official and very business-y signage installed, like so:


Here’s my conundrum. The Silver Lake block I live on is entirely a residential mix of single-family homes and multi-unit dwellings and frankly the last thing I want is some business just hanging up its fancy shingle and cha-chinging its customers here. But if the owners of this place went through the proper channels of permits and hearings and hoop-jumping and such perhaps I’m just ass out and missed the opportunity window to pipe up.

So my question is this: Anyone know what city department/agency I’d be best to begin my bureaucratic wanderings in search of an answer as to whether they’re properly permited to operate? I’ve already got an e-inquiry into my beloved councilpresidentman’s office but I’m not sure when I’ll hear back as he’s either leaping tall buildings at a single bound or off in the Mediterranean learning to fly jets for the navy or both. So in the meantime any suggestions/guidance/ideas would be appreciated.

12 thoughts on “A Modernly Ethnical Quandary”

  1. Is it a business or someone’s just named their home, ala Tara?

    (It’ll have to argue for the former, as Modern Ethnic sounds like a stupid name for an estate.)

    Doesn’t look like that house is handicapped accessible … I see more construction in your future.

  2. Will:

    Your research can start with the City’s Planning Department:


    …as well as Building & Safety:


    …and may be further influenced, refined or enlightened by information you find at:




    While we know you to be a serious self-studier, please don’t hesitate to contact the office of your elected City Council representative. The staff at their office should be able to coalesce the information from the aforementioned agencies and other resources to provide a concise and timely answer to your question(s).

    Please accept our best wishes for success at your endeavor.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

  3. Cybele, yeah, it’s totally a biz. I Goog’d the name and found their website and it features the same stylized logo that’s barely visible at the bottom of the small upper sign in the picture.

    I’m not sure how much walk-in traffic they expect (certainly no wheelchairs at this point), but just the presence of the signage seems indicative of customers/clientele coming.

  4. A few thoughts and questions:
    1. What are you hoping to have happen? The signs removed? The business op closed? The building torn down?
    2. If they’re residing there, I think you’re allowed to operate a business out of your home with certain restrictions, even if its in a residential zone. I think you can only have so many employees, and actually operations are restricted, including how many walk in customers and the like they can have. And the signage thing might also be mandated, but that sounds like it falls more under homeowners association rules…
    3. I’d ping the guys at Curbed LA who may have an answer, or could post about it and find some info.

  5. Not quite sure if you’re serious that you actually think I might want the building torn down David, but yes I do take issue with the signage and would like that removed — especially if they were installed with any disregard to zoning/code/law.

    Of course I have no issue with operating a business out of a home, but if in this case its function is more than just a design studio or offices and will be something such as a showroom that draws customers then that I think it’s out of place here.

  6. About 20 years ago I had a home business (photography) in Burbank. As David said, the restrictions were pretty obvious: Not a lot of traffic or customers coming and going. Very few employees. And very limited used of signage, which (if I recall) was something like one-foot square sign, only to be displayed in a window (not outside). Obviously things are different in L.A., 20 years later.

    But one thing was made clear when I got that license back then. If the neighbors started complaining, my business wouldn’t continue from home. So, maybe that part hasn’t changed and M.E. will have to play nice if they want to stay. Good luck.

  7. I’d say just let it alone Will just let alone!!! I live in the neighborhoody too and it seems like they have a nice operation going. It’s not like they are a porno shop, selling guns & ammo or they are running moonshine.

    BTW, me & my posse are gonna hit M. E. tomorrow. We’ll be runnin’ in our Escalades. So, if you are out and about and hear some Limp Bisquit or some Jay-Z or maybe some old skool hip hop. That’s a us playa. Bring a 40 or keep you bureaucratic wandering ass inside.

    I am thinking of getting the ceramic “geisha plate” or maybe those “X” earrings for my homegirl.

    Just messing with ya, WC!

  8. Ha. You got my CB. My mouf was open!

    And besides the wheels are already in motion agin’em. Peeps from the neighborhood council are sniffing around doing title searches and quoting codes and shit now. And. They. Are. PISSED!

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