Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Emmy's Music: And the Beat Goes On... or Does it?

And so it continues... here's another article about the on-going saga of whether Emmy's Spaghetti Shack can play live music or not.

Council to mull music at Emmy's
By David Bolling
June 29, 2009

Live music at Emmy's Spaghetti Shack is either the best thing to happen to Sonoma since wine, or a rude intrusion of unwanted noise in a quiet residential neighborhood.

Or both. Public opinion on the new restaurant's efforts to bring late-night live music to the old Deuce restaurant building at 691 Broadway, is divided partially along geographic and demographic lines, with 31 people, representing 24 homes and a somewhat older constituency, passionately opposed to the six-month temporary use permit for non-amplified live music approved by the Sonoma Planning Commission on May 14.

But in a packet of agenda materials running almost a half-inch thick, city staff present a profile of public opinion that tilts heavily toward approval of the use permit sought by Emmy Kaplan. Out of 86 letters included in the City Council packet, 60 favor the music permit, 26 are opposed. But the 31 people occupying the 24 homes lying in a semi-circle around the restaurant site filed an appeal of the Planning Commission's conditional approval, and Wednesday night the City Council must play Solomon without dividing the baby.

Grounds for the appeal include the following issues:

There is no objective evidence the proposed live music can be conducted in compliance with the city's noise ordinance. Because Kaplan's proposal was revised shortly before the Planning Commission's public hearing, the public did not have sufficient time to examine the revised proposal.

The revised proposal defines the permit as allowing a "restaurant with live music," rather then the original permit request for a "restaurant with nightclub/lounge." Opponents feel the original designation is more accurate and should have been retained.

The Planning Commission gave too much weight to the perceived need for an entertainment/dancing establishment instead of the impact it would have on residents in the neighborhood.

City staff recommend the council approve the permit as adopted by the Planning Commission, but outlined three other alternatives including denial of the permit, further restricting conditions of the permit, or sending the permit application back to the commission with direction to focus on specific areas of concern raised by the appellants.

While a two-to-one majority of letter writers favor the music permit, it's not clear how much influence public opinion will have over the four council members who must weigh the pro/con arguments. (Councilmember Joanne Sanders is vacationing in France and will not be present for the debate.)

The restaurant's location is in an area zoned for mixed use and if the music permit is ultimately granted it will remain with the land, not with the business, a fact that further enflames opponents' fears. Opponents also question how the proposed outdoor music nights can fail to exceed the city's noise ordinance which impose limits of 60 decibels in the daytime and 50 decibels at night.

In considering the permit application, the Planning Commission discussed the idea of hiring a noise consultant to conduct a study - at a projected cost of $2,500 to $3,000 - that would have been paid by Kaplan. That suggestion, however, was ultimately dropped.

But after consulting with the firm that prepared the city's noise ordinance, city staff concluded that live amplified music, or acoustic horn or brass music conducted outside on the patio, probably would exceed noise-ordinance limits.

The conditional use permit, therefore, was limited to live acoustic - non-amplified - music outdoors on Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (limited to one occurrence a week) and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Indoor music could be played Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Karaoke would be allowed inside only once each month.

The issue will be debated during a public hearing set to follow immediately after the consent calendar.

In other city business, the council will convene at 5 p.m. for a closed session to discuss a property negotiation, will then meet with legal counsel to discuss the lawsuit originally filed by Preston Cook's Argonaut Investments regarding the condo-conversion of Rancho de Sonoma, and will then convene a study session at 5:15 p.m. to hear a presentation from the Sonoma County Water Agency regarding the city's water supply.

The regular council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room at 177 First St. W.


ANIPSEOJ@ATT.NET wrote on Jun 30, 2009 12:22 PM:

" The people against had better get at many more signatures before the wed night meeting as they can or they are going to lose. " wrote on Jun 30, 2009 10:28 PM:

" I would hope that anyone that would be opposed to entertaining music for local citizens would even rise to the higher order of controlling the loud noises of motorcycles that are coming into this town on the weekends and scaring tourists off the streets of the plaza and intruding on the peaceful nature of our wonderful community. A Sunday morning walk on The Overlook Trail becomes destroyed by the sound of motorcycles zooming thru the plaza. Let's keep Sonoma a quiet place to enjoy. City Council, please take this up as enforceable by the Sonoma police. Otherwise we will possbly have hundreds of tourists motorcycles ZOOMING thru town every weekend. " wrote on Jun 30, 2009 11:32 PM:

" We should ban loud trucks, loud busses, loud cars, loud airplanes from flying over, sirens, big-rigs, bands, parades, tourists, people who complain, music in general, all speech except whispers. And you already have hundreds of m'cycles cruising Sonoma all week and weekends. They have the gall to stop and buy petrol, shop at stores, eat at restaurants etc etc. Where will it end?????? "

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.