Costa Mesa council approves new event venue in city’s Sobeca district

Costa Mesa City Council members gave their unanimous blessing Tuesday night to a new event venue called Alleylujah planned near the Camp commercial center.

Alleylujah will occupy about 2,300 square feet in an existing commercial building at 2955 Randolph Ave. and be open for business meetings and other private events.

Also planned is a sizable outdoor area to give guests more room to mingle, relax or smoke without bothering others, according to Linda Sadeghi of Costa Mesa-based Lab Holding LLC, which proposed the project.

Sadeghi told the council that the venue will provide much-needed gathering space in Costa Mesa’s Sobeca district, a 39-acre zone that includes other Lab Holding properties, most notably the Camp and the Lab shopping centers on Bristol Street.

“We are in the heart of commerce in the Orange County area; that’s why we built our businesses here,” she said. “We have been here in Costa Mesa for 25 years, so we know … that a private event center would really take hold here and be used by both the private and public sector.”

The city Planning Commission approved the project in December, but Mayor Sandy Genis asked that the council also take a look, citing concerns about parking.

That issue is raised regularly throughout the Sobeca area. Any new projects pitched in the zone are almost always met with objections from residents or existing businesses owners who fear the addition would worsen the parking situation.

“The city seems to think that parking is kind of magic — it just shows up as you need it,” resident Jay Humphrey told the council Tuesday. “Folks, we are putting more and more and more business into a very small area without making demands that deal with parking.”

Though there aren’t enough parking spaces at 2955 Randolph to satisfy the city’s requirements, Alleylujah would tap into spots available at two other Lab Holding properties — 2991 Randolph and 765 St. Clair St. — and use valet services to reach the necessary threshold.

During times when businesses at the other properties are open, guests at Alleylujah would be shuttled to and from the venue to prevent parking conflicts, according to plans submitted to the city.

Despite that, some speakers at Tuesday’s meeting said they’re still concerned that Alleylujah visitors could end up swiping street parking along Randolph or taking spaces belonging to other businesses.

Council members, though, expressed confidence that the parking plan is workable and said the city could step in if any issues arise.

“If you’re successful, then we shouldn’t have a problem,” Genis told Sadeghi.

Councilwoman Katrina Foley said she hopes the city and businesses in Sobeca can work together to “discourage driving in the area” and urge people to find alternatives.

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