A photo simulation of Mozambique's planned rooftop deck and elevator, recently approved by the Planning Commission.

A photo simulation of Mozambique's planned rooftop deck and elevator, recently approved by the Planning Commission. (Courtesy Marshall Innins / October 30, 2012)

Mozambique Steak House has had its ups and downs with the Planning Commission, but an elevator and a rooftop deck have been approved.

The commission voted unanimously Oct. 24 for the 1,205-square-foot deck, but split 3-2 on the exterior elevator, after reviewing modifications to the original plan, which lowered the elevator shaft by 30 inches and spiffed up the façade with a tile roof.

"I voted for the elevator because I thought the applicant and the architect had done what we requested in reducing the height of the elevator and articulating and incorporating it into the design of the building," Commissioner Linda Dietrich said.

Commissioners Norm Grossman and Rob Zur Schmeide did not concur.

"It's ugly," Grossman said. "It looks like a thumb sticking up out of the building. I don't believe that we can't do better."

Mozambique spokesman Steve Kawaratani said the elevator is the minimum size allowed by city regulations.

"However, there was zero opposition at the hearing," Kawaratani said.

The Rooftop Lounge at Casa del Camino set a precedent for the Mozambique project, according to attorney Larry Nokes, who tried but failed to convince the commission that the same hours of operation would be appropriate.

Both restaurants offer views of the ocean to enhance drinks and dining, but Mozambique's deck service will be curtailed at 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, earlier than the rest of the restaurant.

"There will be no music on the deck, and the closing time is earlier, so the noise issue the neighbors had with the previous [conditional use permit] did not arise," Dietrich said.

Architect Marshall Ininns also planned to cover a portion of the deck to muffle noise.

Noise from parking cars, exuberant customers leaving the restaurant and musical entertainment has been an ongoing issue with neighbors, who also object to the closing time for the interior of the restaurant, which is midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.

The Planning Commission has always supported an earlier closing time and directed staff at the Sept. 12 meeting to change the conditions of approval to scale back hours of operation of the existing restaurant.

However, the later hours had council approval, and the commission was advised by City Attorney Philip Kohn that modifications would require an appropriate nexus between the needs, impacts and burdens imposed by the change. City staff concluded that the commission had not provided the nexus, and the hours of operation for the existing restaurant remain unchanged.

If the nexus or justification can be provided, staff can modify the conditions of approval for commission and council consideration.

Compliance with the conditions are subject to review if written complaints are received or staff is advised of violations, of which the commission will be informed and may result in a public hearing.

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