Supporters of Culver City ice skating rink get temporary victory

Skating fans in Culver City were celebrating a temporary victory after city officials dug out an obscure document that advocates hope can keep an ice rink in the neighborhood.

City officials informed the owner of Culver City Ice Arena of its findings last week. They said a use variance granted in 1960 prohibits the use of the property for anything except an ice rink. The new lessee, Planet Granite, plans to convert the 52-year-old rink into a rock climbing, fitness and yoga facility.

In a statement, officials said a zone change would be required to allow Planet Granite to transform the space. Such a zone change would require review by the Planning Commission and "ultimate approval by the City Council at a public hearing," the statement said.

James Lee, a Planet Granite spokesman, said Thursday that the company's attorneys were inspecting the document to verify its authenticity and validity.

"I strongly suspect that the city felt compelled, politically speaking, to have to put out a statement … in order to protect themselves," Lee said last week. "Whether or not [the document] holds water, that's a separate question we'll have to get an answer to."

Over the years, the retro rink has served as a practice facility for skating stars including Scott Hamilton, Michelle Kwan and Wayne Gretzky. As of Thursday, more than 15,000 supporters of the arena had signed an online petition to save it.

John Jackson, who owns the skating business, said he was unable to negotiate a lease renewal after the rent was raised. The L.A. Kings and AEG, the team's owner, sought to take over the rink and continue operating it as a public venue for figure skating and hockey, but they were outbid, a team spokesman said.

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