More on outdoor patio ordinance

Featured, Policy — By on May 29, 2011 8:51 pm

As a follow up to my previous post on the latest round of the outdoor patio ordinance, Council Member Tuthill and Minneapolis Licensing’s Linda Roberts came out to meet with Uptown restaurateurs about the proposed outdoor patio ordinance change. The meeting was the result of a promise that Council Member Tuthill gave the group several months ago when the ordinance went back to the drawing boards.

The 20 individuals at the meeting represented a broad cross section of Uptown area establishments and several business and trade organizations. Tuthill and Roberts outlined the the purpose of the amendment, which is to address residential complaints on livability issues that usually come out at license hearings and after the problem occurs but without documentation. Issues like noise often don’t get documented because there is a need to come out and measure the noise, they said. There was mention that the State’s decision to allow for 2am bar close a few years ago along with a Minneapolis City Council decision to allow bar patrons to stand outdoors, along with parking requirements being eased on restaurants could all be contributors to livability issues. According to Tuthill, those complaining about livability issues “want a balance” between the nightlife of Uptown and the calmness of living in the neighborhood.

The Problem
Tuthill stated that the problem is late night noise in the neighborhood. At times during the meeting, it was confusing as to whether the noise issue is obnoxious drunks making loud noise in the neighborhood, thus waking people up, or rather an issue of a loud ambient noise. There was also mention by Tuthill that residents were sick of having to pick up trash and find puke in their yard.

Operators and Tuthill agreed that there were unruly drunks that need to be better managed, as they can become trouble makers.

The Solutions
Tuthill talked about people being too cheap to park at public parking facilities in Uptown and instead park in the neighborhoods. According to her, the parking facilities in Uptown have significant capacity at 12:30am. One solution suggested by an attendee was to add permit parking to the neighborhood, which Tuthill said some blocks were considering. Unfortunately, the implication was that permit parking’s implementation was going to be on a block by block basis with little to no coordination, which would likely shift the problem from one block to another as there would be no consistency or thoughtful plan on how to manage public parking.

One well received solution was Tuthill’s plan to add taxi stands to several locations in Uptown, generally near Lagoon Avenue between Hennepin and Fremont Avenue. The operators agreed that the quicker guests can get into taxis and get home, the fewer undesirable incidents would take place.

Operators mentioned that more police were needed but Tuthill quickly stated that “cops horsing around with drunks while residents wait 25 to 45 minutes” for a police response was frustrating and unacceptable. The operators replied that they were funding the extra cops at their expense. This response by Tuthill, that late night activity in Uptown’s business district were degrading service to other communities, has been poorly received by many in the business district. Outside of the meeting, numerous operators have told me that they generate sizable sales tax and pay very high property taxes to the City and if they require police protection at hours other than 8 to 5, then that’s the City’s deal to fund cops. They also stated that they already fund bouncers and off duty cops to help manage their business and those individuals often patrol outside their establishment. They are willing to fund additional cops at their expense to a certain extent but that it’s one of the City Council’s primary responsibilities to protect the public through police service.

But what most were interested in was the Tuthill ordinance change to outdoor patios. How would this ordinance change aide in dealing with late night noise and drunks?

The solution in the Tuthill ordinance change is to establish capacity limits for outdoor patios, cease amplified noise after 10pm, and allow the City unbelievable powers to strip away patio hours with little reason despite whether an operator is operating legally.

The capacity limits discussion focused mostly on how capacity would be determined and how operators generally were wary of the calculation and characterization of capacity. The City said it hasn’t figured out how to determine capacity yet but that generally anyone within the outdoor areas of a restaurant (as opposed to a public sidewalk) would be attributed against the capacity of the outdoor area.

An operator brought up her concern about smokers stepping outside to smoke and whether that would impact their ability to seat people outside. It sounded like, though I can’t substantiate this, that if the smoker goes outside onto a sidewalk without a drink and outside of the patio area, that the person would not be counted against the capacity. However, if they step into the outdoor patio area with or without a drink, they would likely be considered a patron of the outdoor area. Tuthill mentioned that the City would expect operators to know real time capacity of the outdoor areas and said most operators are already tracking that indoors. The purpose of this, from what I could tell, is to allow inspectors to be able to compare what the operator believes is going on to what is going on when they inspect the place.

The outdoor amplified noise restriction at 10pm was met with significant criticism by operators. Multiple operators pointed out that if the issue is obnoxious drunks in the neighborhood, outdoor music at patios wouldn’t do anything to stop it. Tuthill made a comment about how people talk louder and louder as music volume increases and so the noise coming from a patio can get to a high level. Roberts discussed how they have difficulty in policing outdoor areas because the establishment will have their music too high and then turn it down when an inspector tells them to, only to return later to find it up again. Tuthill said that by shutting off music at 10pm, it’ll make it a lot easier to regulate as if it’s on, it’s clearly violating the ordinance versus a subjective review by someone without monitoring equipment. One operator said that when they design their business concept they take everything into consideration, from service, food, beverage, furniture, wall coverings, music, etc, and to cut out music would negatively impact their business.

The “elephant in the room” that I brought up is the ability of the City Council to change hours of operations on existing outdoor patios for as little of a reason as “proximity of residential dwellings.” In this case, the City Council would have the ability to pick and choose randomly what constituted too close to a residential dwelling and as such, could discriminate against operators they didn’t like or allow certain neighborhoods or neighbors to damage businesses with little reason.

I also pointed out that while Tuthill has stated that individual operators in Uptown aren’t operating louder than permitted, she believes the aggregate of their operations are creating a loud situation in Uptown, therefore, could this ordinance provision allow the City Council the ability to reconstitute the hours of operations on all Uptown outdoor patios because the City could consider them “too close” to residential dwellings? Tuthill’s response was that if that was she or Roberts’ intent, they would simply propose that. That comment did little to persuade attendees that the provision was necessary. In fact, neither Tuthill or Roberts explained why that provision is necessary. Roberts did stress that the second part of the ordinance language about hour changes uses legal language that has certain findings that would need to be found, but seemed interested in revisiting the residential proximity issue, as that language appears to be outside of that legal finding reference. That said, Roberts seemed genuinely interested in revisiting it.

The Conclusion
This ordinance proposal still has not clearly defined the problem that exists and has not proposed solutions that are tied to the assumed problem. Tuthill stresses that there are problems that most agree are unacceptable (such as finding puke in your yard) but hasn’t connected the dots on how these issues will be fixed through her ordinance change. Tuthill has proposed taxi stands, which both she and operators believe will help get drunks home sooner and will be less likely to cause trouble either in the business district or surrounding residential areas.

Perhaps most concerning is that there appear to be some deep rooted opinions by Tuthill that Uptown businesses are sucking up police resources and that those parking in the neighborhoods are almost exclusively outsiders from Uptown that are from the suburbs who are too cheap to pay to park. There is little acknowledgment by her that people in her neighborhood are hanging out in their backyards having a few too many and that many of her constituents are going out at night and coming home drunk. Certainly there are some from outside of the community who park in the neighborhood, but there’s no data that’s been presented to identify the amount of people who are doing that and why they’re parking there. It could be that some of those people are parking there to meet up with a friend who lives in the neighborhood before walking up to the bars.

Thatcher Imboden

How cities work and change, how they are the product of their inhabitants and outside forces, and the resulting livability keep me thinking and dreaming about the future. I work in transit oriented development and have a background in urban real estate development. I am Past President of an Uptown business organization, grew up in Uptown, was on an Uptown neighborhood association Board, and am an Uptown and Lyn-Lake historian.

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46 Comments

  1. Peter kim says:

    I understand your concern and concerned both sides.
    When we had a crime and safety meetings, this issue came up every summer and it is mostly non uptown residents who were disrespectful on others property. If someone want to count they can but uptown home owners are not going to pay for that.
    Also, business owners shall not provide alcohol to already drunk customers. I believe this is a consequences of years of negligence.
    I am not happy with proposed ordinances but I can understand Meg’s situation. Her job is representing people who voted for her.
    LHENA supported her proposal and I hope this could be a start point to solve so some problems.

    • Cedar Phillips says:

      It could just be a matter of wording here, but her job isn’t just to represent those who voted for her; she’s representing everyone in the Ward, not just her supporters.

      • Peter Kim says:

        Cedar Phillips

        You are absolutely correct.
        LHENA board has 11 board member and they are renters, business owners, home owners and professionals. LHENA voted “yes” to support this proposal and I am not sure other neighborhood organization.
        As I said, this is not a best way to handle this but it suddenly represent majority’s interest.
        Board members were elected through annual election.
        Unless we do overall poll or another ward election/vote, they is no way we can collect everyone’s opinion.

        There could be a differences on opinions and majority’s opinion is supporting this ordinance at least at LHENA.

        This does not mean we have to do this if there is better idea and commitment.

        • Tom Moore says:

          Peter Kim,

          Please do not cite “LHENA board” and their voting “yes” to support this proposal as evidence of the Ward’s residents supporting this proposal.

          Ask a random sampling of 100 people in “LHENA” what “LHENA” is and i’m betting that an overwheling majority would have no idea. It is NOT a democratic institution that represents the Ward (of which 80% of residents are renters. so, when you say “uptown home owners are not going to pay for that”, you are referring to 20%, at best, of LHENA residents – and ALL of us pay taxes, even renters in Ward 10 like myself).

          And LHENA may have an “annual election”, but how many people know about it? It is NOT an elected body in the city government structure (elected via city election, that is) that then represents residents below the city couniclperson level. It is a neighbhorhood group that receives funding. It overrepresents property owners compared to non-property-owning residents.

          Meg Tuthill has a duty to represent Ward 10, and LHENA and other neighborhood groups are just one part of Ward 10. One, small part in terms of total population. Please, please don’t cite a neighborhood group in Minneapolis as being truly representative of its neighborhood.

          Meg Tuthill’s proposal is a solution in search of a problem. And most of the ward, if polled, would agree, from what I can tell.

          • peter kim says:

            Tom

            You are correct.
            I was not representing all 10th ward but at least neighborhood organizations deserved their credibility.
            They got fundings but board members are all volunteers for greater good. They put additional hours into this meetings and volunteer work in addition to their full time job and family.
            So, I like to show respect to all neighborhood volunteers.

            I am not sure there is a way to collect all opinions fairly. At least, LHENA advertise annual meeting through newspapers and flier and attendees vote for board members for fair representation. If someone was not able to attend, they can e-mail, call, and write a letter to express their opinions if they care about neighbors.
            I wish we have an excellent database to get polls from each residents/businessonwers but so far board meeting, newspapers, e-mail and letters were the way LHENA can connect with residents and business owners.

            So for this ordinance discussion, no one knows what is preferred by majority in 10th ward. If you know better way to communicate, please suggest to Meg or your neighborhood organization. Meg will be delighted to know.

          • peter kim says:

            Also, Tom
            Hope you participated last city council election.
            Because of the system, if majority elected Meg T., she is our representative whether you like or not.
            It is a given situation for another 3 years, so get involved to protect your right and communicate with her. You can find her contact numbers and meeting schedule through city website.

            BTW, I am not all up for this ordinance either, yet I think it can be a strong conversation starter to solve existing problems.

    • Thatcher Imboden says:

      Peter, thanks for the response. I agree, businesses shouldn’t continue to serve drunk people. They need to, and most have, take responsibility for patron behavior. The problem is what happens to them once they’re drunk and have to get home. Some live here, some don’t. Taxi stands will help get people out of here. But those who are (hopefully riding back with their DD who) parked in the neighborhood need to behave better. Are signs asking patrons to be respectful of their neighbors going to accomplish that or will any provision in this ordinance do that? The answer is most certainly no.

      More cabs, more focus on getting people onto buses, better business management to reduce over serving and to keep people moving along, roaming cops, and potentially coordinated permit parking in place from 11pm-2am may have more likelihood to reduce late night noise in the neighborhoods. That as well as having an open conversation about whether bars should close at staggered hours or having no mandated close time at all so that everyone doesn’t pour out of the bar at 2am and fight for the same cab or stand around trying to figure out where the party is going to move to.

      I don’t think the homeowners should have to pay to know where the trouble makers or loud people are coming from, but I do think that if we really want to reduce the livability issues, the right approach would include some level of study. Perhaps we can get some Humphrey Grad Students to study the livability issues in neighborhoods adjacent activity centers and use Uptown as their case study.

      My biggest concern with the ordinance is the provision that could allow the City to change the hours of operation of existing businesses after the fact because they happen to be near housing. It’s unreasonable to do it after the fact. If there is concern ahead of time, then they could always consider a condition that allows reviewing the hours after six months or a year, which while annoying and potentially unworkable to a business, is much preferable than wholesale ability to revisit any business’ hours of operations with little reason.

      Thanks again for sharing your opinion.

      • Peter kim says:

        I agree that restricting business hours are not the best option.
        Actually, I dealt with bar 120 feet distance from my house.
        Initially they had drunk people issue, noise after hours and glass bottles on the street.
        I go there often so I talked to the manager and expressed my concerns and specific issues they need to take care of.
        They dramatically improved outcomes and so far it is working for us.

        Anonomity is the biggest huddle to solve this kind of problem and business need to take in charge to make it better.
        They can even start asking people’s zip code when they pay their bills or get seated.. That way they can get a data where they are from.
        Also, make server countable on overserving alchols since I observed that is the most problem.

        Except bars and restaurant, over 60% of consistance customer for business are local residents so I am not sure about over all reaction to this discussion from business community either.

        It is best to do honest and ethical business not someone else’s cost.
        I do love close bars and restaurants in uptown but my sleep comes first if I need to get up at 4:30 and bar closes at 2 and folks make noise after that until 3.

        It is a basic human right vs luxury option we are dealing with here.
        Hope you understand that.

  2. Cedar Phillips says:

    I find it incredibly frustrating that no one has, as you note, been able to “connect the dots” explaining how exactly this patio ordinance addresses issues such as loud or disorderly drunks on the street. If that’s the issue, why are we wasting our time worrying about patios? And I, too, have heard Meg Tuthill point the finger at “suburbanites” as the primary source of trouble in the neighborhood. I don’t know why she thinks that, as there seems to be ample evidence to suggest that at least a sizable portion of the drunks do, in fact, live within the neighborhood. Getting them in taxis or adding more permit parking isn’t going to make any difference on that front. That said, I love the taxi idea (anything to keep drunks off the road is a good thing in my book), hate the permit parking idea. Overall, though, I think this is just an example of creating a “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist, while simultaneously doing nothing to correct the issue (loud/disorderly drunks, etc.) that the residents are complaining about.

    • Peter Kim says:

      I am not sure taxi idea will work.

      To find out who is from where can be done if business owners start taking their ZIP code to serve them about 3 months.
      If drunk live in the neighborhood, they will face consequences by surrounding neighbors. Anonymity is the beast that we have to deal with since we cannot find out anything by car license plate.

      In my country, there is a business that someone will drive you home with your car if you are drunk to drive.but you pay.
      Most people drive to get to social gathering. It’s Midwest and let’s face it.
      If they are too drunk, 1. they have to stay somewhere to get sober,2. or give up their car and take a cab to home(uptown to Eden Prairie?)3. get a hotel or stay over with friends house and drive in the morning or 4. Walk home or 5. drive drunk or sit in the car until you are sober

      Remember, problem folks are not their 30-40′s family guys.
      They will find most economical way to get drunk and have a good time.
      Responsible folks will have 1-2 drinks and drive home.
      Problem folks will have many drinks they can have and don’t think about consequences or loose control.
      So, I understand your hate for the permit parking but no one can win over capitalism.

    • Nathaniel says:

      I think that Cedar said it best, “I find it incredibly frustrating that no one has, as you note, been able to “connect the dots” explaining how exactly this patio ordinance addresses issues such as loud or disorderly drunks on the street.”

      The patio ordinance seems to be a non-issue compared to the real problem of noise. As an Uptown resident, my complaints (of which, I have few) come from neighborhood house parties – not restaurant/bar patios.

      Binge drinking and inappropriate drunken behavior is the real issue that needs to be addressed. This is not an Uptown problem, but a cultural/social problem. Limited bar hours or patio restrictions will do nothing to address the real issue.

  3. Champs says:

    I don’t drive, I live in the neighborhood, and I don’t bother with Uptown bars during the weekend, but it’s pretty simple: off-street parking doesn’t add any value.

    Street parking is cheaper, much easier to get out of at 2am, and if you’ve had one too many, you can leave the car overnight. If you’re not towed from a lot, there’s a hefty charge to leave your car in an empty lot, just because. It’s certainly not a fee for security.

  4. Sloan says:

    ok ok … I got it! Community Barf Bags! We have ‘em for dog poo … why not people puke? And printed on the bags there could be advertisements for local cabs? Also,maybe, residents who choose to, could label/offer their front yards as “Camper Friendly” .. maybe with a donation box. I always keep a sleeping bag in my trunk … Let ‘em sleep it off … Less drunks on the road, save the cops time & $$, maybe folks who welcome drunks in their yard could get a discount on their property taxes? .. I dunno. I mean really, if the clubs collect less sales tax … what good does it do ya? Has anyone played with the #’s? Q? Do drunks pay for themselves or not?

    • Peter kim says:

      I believe troubled drunks will be very few which dose not affect on tax numbers. Problem is those few drunks are spread out thin among us and it is impossible to identify but stuff is keep happening.

      Small things like bad yard or puke increse crime in the neighborhood since criminals think it is an easy target and this neighbor does not care.
      This is why new york started cleaning graffiti fist and nail down criminals.

      I understand that ordinance is little bit much but we all know that bar customers have been ignorant on surrounding residential neighbors.
      Respect to other side would be a start point if you want to solve this problem.

  5. Erin says:

    I’ve been living in Uptown since 2001. I also live close to CC Club, and have never had a problem with the operation of their patios, or any other patios in Uptown. The patios are not the problem. Suburbanites are not the problem. The problem is the demographic is aging. I moved here in my mid 20s, now I’m in my mid 30s, and have no plans to move. People like the area because of a million reasons, but are less tolerant of stupid behavior as they age. We move here in our 20s for fun, and end up buying property here and having families here because it’s a great neighborhood, and then get mad at the very same people WE USED TO BE! It’s funny. But it’s also part of the appeal of the area. It’s fun, and people walking home drunk (which is better than driving) is actually a reason to move here…you can safely walk to and from area establishments without killing somebody.

    • peter kim says:

      Erin

      Thank you for your great insight.
      I totally agree with you and I live very close to Lyle’s.
      I am happy with where I am at and glad Lyle’s are under control for their customers.
      I am not totally up for this ordinance but can be a strong conversation starter.
      It is an issue of basic human right(sleep) vs luxury item(entertainment).
      Hope head it on discussion between city and business owners come out with better solution.

      • Anders says:

        Let’s keep this grounded and not frame it as a “human rights” issue. It’s an issue of property rights: business owners’ right to a reasonable use of their property (whether owned or leased), balanced with residents’ right to reasonable use of their property (whether owned or rented). Sleep and entertainment are obviously both reasonable uses. The problem seems to be unruliness outside of the bars/restaurants, on neighborhood streets (since inspectors have found noise levels at the businesses to be within legal limits, we know it’s not that).

        In other words, the people who are loud and obnoxious at night are probably already breaking the law. Disorderly conduct, littering, whatever — the problems in question are all misdemeanors punishable by a fine, I’m sure (or a costly trip to detox, as the case may be). Serving someone who is visibly intoxicated is also a pretty serious offense.

        So here’s a suggestion: find a better way to enforce the laws that are being broken. Don’t create new laws that are difficult to enforce, difficult to follow, and incredibly short-sighted, punitive, and pushed by a vocal and powerful minority of the population.

        It’s a cliche, but we don’t need new regulations; we need to make the existing regulations smarter and more effective. Meg’s legislation makes them more confusing and definitely more susceptible to unfair–and potentially illegal–political tomfoolery.

        • peter kim says:

          Anders

          You got a point up to some point.
          Because it has been that way does not mean it is valid. If someone steal my landscape fixtures every time, I am entitle to address that issue whether they were drunk or not. so as puke or destroying things.

          Much larger cities are wired with security cameras to address those issues and I hope we don’t go there in uptown. do you remember that Chicago shovel video?

          If you see city’s zoning map, R means residential.
          Most area north of 29th street is R.
          Folks bought a house expecting residential quality with common sense.
          http://www.thewedge.org/maps/lowryhilleast_zoning_map.pdf
          Here is a definition of residential districts:
          “The residence districts are established to preserve and enhance quality of living in residential neighborhoods, to regulate structures and uses which may affect the character or desirability of residential areas, to encourage a variety of dwelling types and locations and a range of population densities consistent with the comprehensive plan, and to ensure adequate light, air, privacy and open space.”
          http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=11490&stateId=23&stateName=minnesota

          Drunk people are not able to respect “residential quality” that ordinance addressed.

          http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/about/maps/ward10.pdf

          Again, I am not sure that regulating patio hours and capacity is proven though.
          To avoid this ordinance, business owners and city need to think out of box.

    • Kari says:

      I agree with Erin- I’ve lived in Uptown since 2006, only a couple blocks off of Hennepin. I agree that as the demographics change, people’s mindsets about what is acceptable change. I moved here in ’06 fresh out of college and love the vibrant neighborhood. But I also understand that Uptown has in the past and will continue to be a neighborhood that young people flock to- be they artists, heavy drinkers, etc. Uptown has always been an appealing neighborhood to young people. I think one needs to think long and hard when they purchase property and think about long term effects/problems that may arise- if you bought property in Uptown and the thought didn’t cross your mind that you would have to deal with noise and drunk/disorderly conduct- you were not thinking enough. While I haven’t lived here long, research I have done into this neighborhood and Minneapolis history, Uptown hasn’t changed much. If you moved here and expected Uptown to somehow become a different neighborhood, I don’t think business should have to pay for that through increased restrictions. If I decide to purchase property in Uptown, I am fully aware what I will encounter from the community- I doubt these “solutions” will solve the problem of drunk/disorderly conduct. If, after much thought, I decide I don’t want to deal with this atmosphere, I will think about purchasing property somewhere else.
      I guess I find it baffling that this is being presented as a new problem…

      • Cedar Phillips says:

        I’m not tolerant of already illegal (and obnoxious) behavior, but that’s not what this ordinance is about. If anything, it distracts from the real issues. That said, Uptown is a bustling urban neighborhood. No one should expect total quiet at night. Should they have the right to expect that they can sleep without drunks yelling outside their window or vomiting in the yard? Yes, I think that’s reasonable. But that’s a completely different issue than this patio ordinance. Besides unfairly hurting our local businesses, I think this hurts local residents by distracting attention from their real issues.

        • Peter Kim says:

          Cedar

          You nailed it !!!
          Problem is Meg believes that this ordinance is the solution and business owners cannot provide competitive and satisfactory solutions on discussion table. I cannot tell if this ordinance will work or not and which research is a foundation for this.
          I think you should e-mail this to Meg and even call her.
          Goal is solving existing problems if we can spare current business hours and regulations.

      • Kris says:

        I am someone who has lived in the area for over 20 years, and Uptown has changed dramatically in the last few. There are a lot more restaurants and bars with a lot more seating which in turn means, a lot more noise. Some of these folks are drinking too much and being disrespectful of the people who live here. The general rule is that it is usually a few who ruin it for the rest of us. I never had to pick up beer bottles on my boulevard few years ago, now it is a regular occurrence, including folks walking back to their cars in the wee hours of the morning, shouting at each other because they are either deaf, drunk or both and do not care that a family lives in the house they have just walked by and the parents and kids have to get up and go to work and school the next morning at 6:30am. The reason an ordinance is being proposed is because the bars and restaurants are drawing a lot more people to Uptown. The now extended operating hours of serving liquor on top of the outdoor seating with additional noise has become intolerable. This is having a negative impact on my life and my family. It is only one solution that needs a few more added to it such as earlier closing hours and permit parking. I should not have to feel like I must move out of my neighborhood because some folks think they should be able to party to the wee hours in the morning. I LOVE the fact that I do not need to use our one car that often because I can walk to everything I need and I have done so for more than 20+ years. I have rights too and so do my children. I am teaching them to be responsible young people considerate of others. Is it not important to be considerate of others and help each other? It is a sad day when people only think about $$ and not the fair being of society overall. It all boils down to respecting everyone and understanding everyones needs. Why shouldn’t a family want to live here? My five bedroom home has been here for more than 107 years. The outdoor bars and cafes are a new phenomena. We need to come up with a solution and compromise that everyone can live with. Uptown is not just for partying, families live here too.

        • Cedar Phillips says:

          Families and those with children (and longtime Upton residents) are among those who oppose this ordinance change, too. I think you are confusing the issue. And while yes, there are more bars and restaurants here (or at least the balance between daytime and nighttime activities has shifted within the past decade), no one has yet demonstrated that this patio ordinance will have ANY impact on the problems relating to drunks in the neighborhood. This proposal simply confuses the issue, and falsely gives neighborhood residents the idea that changing patio rules is going to somehow solve the other problems. There’s no reason to expect that it will. Where is the evidence that it’s the outdoor patios and cafes that is creating the problems? And Uptown has ALWAYS drawn people, and has always been home to destination restaurants. It’s always attracted large numbers of visitors. That hasn’t changed. We have far less daytime activity now, unfortunately, and the loud partiers ARE a problem, but blaming it on outdoor patios seems to miss the point.

          • Steve says:

            @Cedar
            Can you list establishments serving alcohol in the neighborhood (Lake to Franklin) 10 years ago that did not have their own parking? I can only think of one, but I can think of a many that did have parking. Some of those businesses are still here, but now provide less parking. The problem is worse in the summer because the impact of these bars increases when they boost the size of their businesses with outside seating.

  6. Feistess says:

    Why can’t they make the parking lots reduced/free after a certain hour? Sounds like it would make residents happy (being able to find parking) and could potentially address a public safety issue, ie driving home drunk to avoid overnight charges. Other than that, this whole debate smacks of “those people” talk. Let’s face it. Lots of people who moved to the Uptown area and chose to buy property did so because of the vibrant community, night life, and overall cache of the area. You don’t want to deal with it? Sell and move to Lake Nokomis.

  7. Dog says:

    What about all the dog poop I find on my driveway that I step in everyday? There is way more dog poop then puke lying around in peoples yards, driveways, sidewalks, etc. Tuthill should limit the areas dogs are allowed to be walked in public. Dogs should not be allowed on public sidewalks.

  8. Steve says:

    I have lived in the Wedge since 1985, moved here as a student, eventually buying a home and raising a family. Sorry folks, but it is not that I am getting older, the neighborhood is much louder. When we bought our home (a block off Hennepin) in 1992 we had no AC units, and we regularly slept with our windows open. That is impossible today, some drunk bunch of bar patrons is going to come stumbling down our block at 2 or 3 in the morning looking for their car and yelling. They do not live in the neighborhood, because after they wake up my family, they slam the doors to their cars and drive away.

    Why is this a regular problem today, but it was never a problem ten years ago? A couple of thoughts come to mind. First, the City relaxed off-street parking requirements several years ago, so late night businesses do not need to provide any significant amount of off-street parking like they once did.

    At roughly the same time, the restrictions on outdoor seating were basically eliminated, and those “seasonal” seats do not even “count” in calculating licensing and parking requirements.

    It used to be very difficult to get sidewalk seating anywhere in Minneapolis. I agree that street cafés are good for the neighborhood, but in encouraging these amenities the City gutted the rules.

    The new normal is causing problems we just did not used to have. Is it really any surprise that patrons are parking on residential streets in numbers we never had before?

    I walked by a bar on Lyndale this evening that had converted its off-street parking into outside seating. BryantLakeBowl has always had off-street parking, but the number of spaces didn’t change when it added its outside seating. The CC Club used to have off-street parking directly to the south, on Lyndale, those spaces are now marked for French Meadow. But the CC Club now has a large outdoor patio it did not have a few years ago.

    Is it really any wonder that so many drunks are wandering around in our neighborhood late at night when there are so many more seats, but fewer business provided parking spaces?

    One last thought. Why should businesses be playing amplified music outside late at night? Can anyone point me to another city where this is allowed? Certainly not in NYC, Boston, SF, or any other place I have lived or visited.

  9. Thatcher Imboden says:

    Steve,
    I heard CM Tuthill also mention the off-street parking thing. I just don’t see a significant link between the parking requirement changes and those parking on neighborhood streets. Uptown has plenty of off-street parking and the examples you cite really wouldn’t have changed much had the old rules been in place. When the City analyzed how frequently they were granting parking variances (re: all of the time) they felt it made sense to ease the requirements.

    The market is now a closer determiner of what amount of parking should be provided. Case in point, Apple, Columbia, and The North Face are all new buildings and none built parking. Nor should they. It’s super inefficient for each user to build their own parking and then have someone drive there and have to move their car to go somewhere else. We have consolidated parking facilities at Lyn-Lake and at Hennepin-Lake that have more than ample space to fulfill the bulk of the parking need.

    As for your comment that the loud people slamming car doors at night is an indicator that the people aren’t from around here that are making noise. I don’t think we really know that but we do have at least numerous examples from you and others that that’s the case. But we don’t know why those people are parking there. Is it because they parked at their friend’s place and walked with them up to Uptown? I’m certainly heard CM Tuthill say it’s because they’re “too cheap” to pay to park in Uptown. Either way, this ordinance won’t change this.

    In my opinion, the largest reason why patios have expanded has less to do with parking and the City’s permission to allow patrons to stand, but more with a change at the Metropolitan Council that allowed restaurants to not pay as much in SAC fees (a waste water user fee) for outdoor areas on the premise that a place like It’s Greek to Me or Cowboy Slims or Stellas is going to see a shift in the summer from patrons sitting indoors to being outdoors and the likelihood of the venue being at 100% capacity is near nil. That helped reduce costs for outdoor patios as each 8 seats used to cost about $2,100 and now is about 25% of that.

    As for the outdoor speakers, it’s more about the ordinance assuming an action will be a solution to an Uptown problem that’s now going to be applied City-wide. If you’re a bar in an industrial area or along the river with only commercial activity around or have a sound engineer design your space to reduce/prevent spillage, why shouldn’t’ you be able to have outdoor speakers at a reasonable level? The fact that NYC, Boston, or SF doesn’t have outdoor speakers isn’t a reason not to do it. The City’s analysis of peer cities was interesting but it would have been more useful had it found and organized it by cities known for outdoor dining vs. cities that aren’t so we can get perspective.

    But if you want some civility on the streets, the solution isn’t this ordinance. It’s a divisive ordinance that increases the City’s discriminatory powers without providing you any meaningful relief.

    Real relief will require understanding the dynamics of the problem and then suggesting solutions that try to get at the root of the problem. If it’s loud drunks, we’ll need to know if they live in the neighborhood, why they park in the neighborhood, why they’re so drunk, why they’re loud, and where they’re coming from. The solutions would range from permit parking for late night, validated parking, more taxis/transit, less overserving, more police/security, more respect of between neighbors, white noise machines, etc.

    (disclaimer: I work for Ackerberg, which owns several public parking facilities in Uptown, though my comments represent my personal opinion)

  10. Cedar Phillips says:

    Question about the drunks: if we see a group of drunks stumbling down the street, how do we know they’re coming from a bar? Isn’t it just as likely (if not more so) that they’re coming from a house party? Or, if Meg Tuthill IS convinced that the drunks are coming from bars, then shouldn’t the focus be on cracking down on overserving, not focusing on patios? There’s no hard data (that I have seen) showing any causal relationship between either patios and neighborhood noise and/or drunks. Or, for that matter, the changes in parking and changes in noise and/or number of problem drunks. I think we need to know more about the nature of the problem and its causes (beyond just speculating) before we move on to providing ordinance-based solutions.

  11. Steve says:

    @Cedar
    Where I live, it is very clear where the drunks are coming from, bars on Hennepin. That is not speculation, but observation.

    @Thatcher
    Saying that the rules changed because the City always granted the requested variances in the past misses an important point: when businesses had to get a variance they were more responsive to neighborhood concerns.

    I understand that we have shared parking resources (at LynLake and Calhoon Square), but those resources do not do much good if you get more than a block north of Lake Street, where patrons can park for free on a residential block that is closer thenthe pay parking lot.

    You dismiss my specific neighborhood examples of additional seating coupled with less parking, but wouldn’t you concede that every parking space a bar provides within sight of its business is one less car parked on a residential block?

    Over the last decade we have gotten more bars, more seats, and less bar provided parking. That equals more people parking on residential blocks and stumbling around drunk and loud early in the AM.

    Meg’s proposal tries to create some rules of engagement, but many posters seem to think that’s a bad idea. I understand why bar owners or developers might not like that, but I am puzzled why any neighbor who lives here would oppose it.

    It would be nice to see more reasoned discussion about appropriate regulation of outside seating, instead of snarky comments from those who think any regulation is bad, or that people who want to sleep at night should move somewhere else. I have not seen any alternative proposals on this or the facebook thread, but plenty of ad hominem attacks against Meg Tuthill for proposing an administratively straightforward method of reducing neighborhood noise.

    If you want to propose an alternative, think about the administrative and enforcement burdens it presents, and then you might see the wisdom of creating more balanced rules about the number of bar patrons who should be crowded into our local watering holes.

    One last point about the notion that “sound engineers” will assure outdoor amplified sound is not a problem. Assuming any bar would hire one, acoustics is a tricky business: moving a speaker an inch, or turning up the sound just a small amount can make a big difference. I was woken up around Midnight early in May to music, and thought it was coming from across the alley. I got dressed and walked three blocks thinking I was just about to get to the sound source. Turned out it was over a mile away on Lake Street, but reflections off buildings made it sound like it was on the next block.

    Why shouldn’t we just say no amplified music outside after 10 pm without a special permit (for special events like the LynLake Festival)?

    • Thatcher Imboden says:

      @Steve,
      I want to add that I don’t think we can have a one-size fits all policy on this. I generally find myself on the side that patios immediately adjacent residential dwellings should have more restrictive operations than those at the 100% business locations that are more shielded from residential dwelling units. But I think that the City should develop some standards as to what is appropriate and where so that there is an equal application of the rules and not stricter rules just because one home owner pushes harder than another in a different part of the City, as the impact may be similar.

      As for existing businesses, I think we’d have to look at what entitlements we’ve already given them and really understand the impacts of trying to take away a right already given to them. In some cases, their licensing provisions may already allow a review of the hours. Or if the business isn’t living up to their end of the bargain by following the license restrictions, then perhaps the whole agreement could be revisited to correct for mistakes the City made previously in granting certain rights. But I and many businesses see it as a huge problem to insert language that allows the City to restrict hours after the fact based on distance to residential dwelling units and not even define what that means. It could and will lead to a picking and choosing of which establishment have their hours changed. Given the bashing that we seem to hear of Drink and Cowboy Slims, would they see their hours changed while Stellas and Cafeteria continue to operate the same? Or will Uptown establishments have their hours changed but It’s Greek to Me doesn’t? What about Rudolphs or Leaning Tower? How do you fairly apply the rules?

  12. Cedar Phillips says:

    I think people HAVE suggested alternatives. We have laws on the books already; how about we start by enforcing those? Get more cops on the streets, issue more tickets, make sure that bars are following the existing laws (regarding noise, overserving, etc.)? No one should have to put up with drunks stumbling around yelling (and driving!!), but we do have existing laws to deal with those issues. Is there any reason to expect that simply throwing more ordinances at the situation will change anything? Personally, I’d like to see some more innovative discussions about how to get additional funding sources to provide additional police on the streets, among other things. I’ll leave much of that for another time, but take a look at Old Pasadena (CA) and the way they’ve managed parking; their pay-system, among other things, pumps the revenue right back into the district, and pays for things like cleaning up graffiti, providing additional police service, etc. We should also be looking for at the overall use of space around Uptown, and the balance between daytime and evening uses. I don’t think you’ll find any Uptowners who WANT drunks in their yards or on their streets, but you’ll find plenty who still don’t understand how regulating patios is going to solve that problem. And for what it’s worth, it’s been reported that the local bars ARE within legal guidelines for their sound (as measured by the city); if they’re not, that’s something that should also be addressed using our existing laws and regulations. Before we go about creating a whole new layer of regulations, how about we figure out better ways to enforce the ones we already have? I assume much of that is going to come down to money, which is part of the reason I think researching various revenue sources is part of the solution.

    • Peter Kim says:

      @ Cedar

      I am sorry to say this but as you know every governmental functions are cutting budgets and states are cutting more.
      I don’t believe it is a good idea spend wasteful enforcement money on this because of problem cause by business and entertainment.

      If someone have to pay, it should be business owners who are benefitting from all the activities.

      Now, up to this point, most people recognized that current ordinance lacks evidentiary proof to solve problems except it will limit customers.

      I like your idea happened in CA, yet I prefer folks stay in core area not overflowing into residential area.

      My most concern is Anonymity with growing condos, apartment and visitors. If we start vicious cycle of people in and out without care, Uptown could end up like dinky town or University of MN neighborhood.

      We are not appreciating enough the value of family homes and what it does. Back bone of existence of Uptown is residents and caring family households.

  13. Joel Haugen says:

    I gather from the input here in support of new regulation that this is primarily an issue of drunken idiots creating unwanted problems in family neighborhoods (i.e. noise, vomit, urine, etc).

    Before we can search for a solution to these problems, let’s review what we know:

    (1) The number of establishments has increased.
    (2) The capacity of certain establishments is greater in the warmer months when there is additional space on outdoor patio areas, increasing the number of patrons.
    (3) Many of the patrons are allegedly “too cheap” to park in pay lots or find alternative transportation, so they park in residential neighborhoods.
    (4) Some of the patrons drink too much and become obnoxious.
    (5) Some of these obnoxious patrons, along with obnoxious non-patron partygoers, later return to their cars that are parked in residential neighborhoods and along the way do things they’re not supposed to do (some of which are illegal and some of which are just poor taste).
    (6) Neighbors have become rightfully upset that their rights have been violated.

    So what impact will the proposed regulatory changes have on what we know?

    The proposed regulatory changes seek to minimize the “noise” created by the establishments and patrons while in the establishments. But according to many of the previous posts, all available data suggest this is not a problem (other than observation from the aggrieved parties). So here we’re solving a problem that doesn’t exist, as Cedar has stated over and over.

    SIDENOTE: Steve – I’m sure that last sentence irritates you since you’ve clearly heard noise from the establishments themselves as I occasionally do, but I don’t believe noise from the establishments is an everyday problem. I don’t mean to be insensitive to your concerns, but I’m guessing you’d be a lot less likely to notice the noise from the establishments if you hadn’t been awoken by the screams of drunken idiots on the sidewalk front of your house the night before. Perhaps I’m wrong as I don’t often go to your neck of the woods late at night, but I live within a hundred yards of the biggest and busiest bars (Stella’s, Drink, Bar Abilene, Cafeteria) and the only noise I ever hear from the establishments themselves is bass from inside of Bar Abilene if the wind is blowing just right (not a problem for me but if it was the proposed regulatory changes wouldn’t cure it). I do hear drunks outside after bar closes as they walk or wait for taxis, but with my proximity to the bar, reducing the number of patrons by 75% wouldn’t cure that.

    The proposed regulatory changes also clearly seek to reduce the number of patrons at the establishments. It does so directly by reducing capacity and indirectly by making the nightlife less desirable to certain patrons. It might not say the latter but it’s written between the lines (turn an establishment into a morgue by turning off the music at 10 p.m. and you’ll probably get rid of the rowdy drinkers in a hurry). Would reducing the number of patrons solve some of the problems? Certainly. But at what cost? Is there a better solution?

    Overall, the real problem here is the drunks in the residential neighborhoods and not the establishments. Any proposed solution needs to target this particular problem.

    It’s apparent to me – at least in the immediate area surrounding Hennepin-Lake and Lyn-Lake – the most effective ways to remedy the problems that exist would be to (1) Ban late night / early morning parking on residential neighborhood streets that are in close proximity to entertainment, except by permit (this would also have the unintended consequences of benefitting pay lots and creating additional parking for residents), (2) add taxi stands, and (3)do a better job of enforcing laws that are already in place, including whatever it takes to stop bars from serving patrons who are already intoxicated. In other areas, perhaps zoning changes or other more targeted rules are necessary. But in the Hennepin-Lake and Lyn-Lake areas this is all it would take.

    • Peter Kim says:

      @ Steve and Joel

      Thank you so much for adding balanced opinion on this subject.
      I am in between sinceI live in north of 24th so not much problem from core area but also I need to manage my property with extra efforts because of few careless folks.

      Joel nailed it and issue could be

      1) is Meg going to give up this agenda if alternatives are better?
      2)can city provide and supports effective alternatives?
      3) the face I know is that we cannot rely on more police and regulations since we all know there are limited budget and state is cutting more. As Meg mentioned and I experienced, it will take more than 40 minutes to have police present in weekends days or night unless you call 911.
      4) I really think business owners need to take in charge on overly drunken folks. They can ask Zip codes to locate general population and also train servers not to serve if they have more then enough.
      5) In ideal situation, restriction on residential neighborhood with aggressive towing and free parking in major ramps.
      If major beneficiary businesses share the cost of parking, I don’t believe that will be huge since customers spend quite a lot at the bars and restaurants.
      6) We need open minded, problem-solving oriented, out of box thinker from council, city and business parties.

      As steve and other folks mentioned, problem is clear and not acceptable.
      Only one solution is suggested on the table and I believe there are more room to explore to make our uptown better.

      • Thatcher Imboden says:

        Peter and Steve,
        The business community IS interested in improving livability problems and are already taking steps to improve things. The restaurant operators have spent the last several months talking with Inspector Clark about how to improve the security at their establishments, in the business district, and in the residential neighborhoods. These operators are in the process of self-funding additional police serve.

        I think it’s unfortunate that some in the community have stated that public safety in the community should fall on the restaurant community to fund since they have created some drunks who walk out into the community. The alternative perspective is that they generate a lot in tax revenue (pay more in rent so properties are worth more so they pay more in Property Taxes, as well as sales taxes, though that generally goes to the State thanks to LGA cuts). If there is a need for police officers at night in the neighborhoods, it’s the job of the City to fund that. I have a hard time believing that the person trying to break into my parents home in CARAG or the guys who pushed my mom down for her purse in the middle of the day were targeting them because the area is home to many bars and restaurants. But the restaurants and bars are willing to step up and pay for additional police services since we’re not getting that service now. And they already hire off duty cops who have been known to respond to trouble near by.

        @Steve,
        Your example was the Herkimer who at one time had some parking stalls next to their building prior to converting it to a patio area. I can’t speak to specifics here but at Lyn-Lake, if you increase the capacity/use of a building you are obligated to pay a parking user fee to the City to their Lyn-Lake parking fund. Those funds go to pay off the debt on their public parking facilities there. I don’t know if they paid it for the patio or not. But I think we have a better Lyn-Lake with a patio there and not a parking lot. Convenient parking is a necessary undesirable use at the moment because our transit system is second class here. While we may have a lot of bus service, it’s slow and limited in its regional connectivity. We lost out when SW LRT chose a different alignment. The parking adjacent the sidewalk takes away from street life, adds conflict to pedestrian safety by cars turning in across the sidewalk, and encourages more people to drive to the area because it’s easy to park. Free parking to consumers is even worse as it hides the true cost of parking and makes everyone else pay for it, even those biking or walking to the business. Consolidated public parking faculties (regardless if they’re public or privately owned) are much better as they encourage visitors to park once and walk around, reduce curb cuts and thus improve pedestrian safety, and hopefully charge a fee to the end user to better associate the true costs of one’s transportation choice to the user.

        As for CC Club, not sure about the parking. They added a patio in part to deal with the smoking ban. One question that comes to mind is whether they are increasing their realized capacity in the summer by operating the patio or do people just migrate from inside to out? Given that the business has been there for over 70 years, their expansion without parking doesn’t really bother me. The flip side is that if parking was required for their patio, they may have tried to buy a nearby house and knock it down for parking. I would bet that the neighborhood wouldn’t like that and the end result, more surface parking on Lyndale, would probably be more curb cuts and traffic concerns along Lyndale.

        Bryant Lake Bowl has a parking lot. I’ve heard some complaints about their guests leaving late at night but they do have parking. Now as it relates to their outdoor patio, the thing is tiny and is more of a smokers lounge than anything else. It’s certainly a great people watching spot since you’re right on the sidewalk. I would also ask the question if the amount of people on it is really leading to an increase in overall realized capacity or not.

        I have thrown out solutions but the problem is mostly a reported issue with little detail as to the dynamics of the problem. We all think we know the problem because we experience it. When I lived at 35th and Girard, I’d wake up nearly every Saturday night from my neighbors down the block coming home drunk and being loud. I saw one of them piss in my front yard and I was furious. I bet when they were at 32nd, folks assumed they were walking back to their car. And I agree with you that there are probably plenty of people parking in the neighborhood making noise, but we need to know why they’re parking there. Is it really in fact because they don’t want to pay to park? Or is it because they’re meeting up with someone in the neighborhood and walking with them up to Uptown. The options to try and deal with those issues are different.

        When I lived at 34th and Hennepin, I had college kids living next door. They threw parties and it made sleeping those nights much harder. I turned on my fan, closed the window, and added a sheet over the window to block out the extra light being thrown on to my house from their back porch light. You could hear that party from down the block too. Over at 34th and Holmes was a nice guy who was middle aged and would throw parties sometimes in his backyard. I could hear the murmur of people’s voices a block away. But I was cool with it because I knew who he was and because it wasn’t screaming. Now I live a mile away from Highway 62 and often hear the highway from my window. Had to hear backing up of construction vehicles for several years. We used a fan and now a white noise machine to cover up that ambient noise. The white noise machine is great, and while it’s not a solution to the problem, it does help me sleep way better so I’m dead serious that light sleepers should consider it while the problem gets worked on. So if we’re trying to solve ambient noise problems, we shouldn’t assume it’s the patios when there’s been no research into what folks are hearing six blocks away from outdoor patios.

        -

        As I’ve said before, I appreciate the discussion of both sides of the issue. I think compared to some of the other blog and Facebook comments out there, this conversation has been much more focused on the merits of the ordinance, examining the issues, and identifying alternative solutions. We elect our City Council people to work on managing our city, but the suggestion at times that we need to put up or shut up as it relates to offering solutions if we don’t like an oridnance is not going to solve the problem. This really should have been looked at as a task force of some sort that dives into understanding the problems, identifying potential solutions, and then engaging additional stakeholders in getting buy in and ultimately execution of solutions. Instead those concerned with specific language components of the ordinance are accused of being uninterested in improving livability and anti-regulation. I don’t think that’s the case at all.

  14. Nathaniel says:

    Here’s my theory on the matter in its current state: I think Meg Tuthill realizes that she probably made a mistake, but is in too deep and trying to ride the thing out. If she drops it, her re-election campaign will be a little more easy-going – but if she keeps it up, I think she is in for a hard loss.

    • Garrett says:

      Interesting thought, Nathaniel.

      Turnout can be really low in a City Council election since they take place in an “off year” (2013). The same group of homeowners who are pushing this ordinance are the ones who disproportionately attend precinct caucuses and will vote in the election (and volunteer for Meg’s campaign).

      There are plenty of young renters that I’ve talked to who think this patio ordinance is a terrible idea, but they are also part of the demographic that is least likely to vote in a municipal election.

      It will be interesting to watch it play out.

      • Peter Kim says:

        True.
        rough voters are around 3,000 in 10th ward.

        It will be nice to see renters in the action.

        But I have to tell this: current council member is 1,000 times better than last one.

  15. Garrett says:

    One more thing: it crossed my mind that maybe Meg brought this forward as a way to scare bars into shaping up. She has their attention now, and they might be willing to consider some other actions to curb bad behavior. It certainly has spurred some interesting discussions.

    I will be curious to see the final form this ordinance takes when full council votes on it.

  16. Anders says:

    What I find so appalling about the whole thing is the sheer amount of time and energy spent on this bizarre legislation. As a Ward 10 resident, there are so many issues more important to me. Just as an example, consider pedestrian safety — it’s been a rough year for cars hitting people, and obviously close calls (which I see every. single. day.) don’t get counted or reported. But what do we see on that issue? Nothing. It’s frustrating and I hope this anti-business kick subsides soon.

    • Cedar Phillips says:

      I wrote to her office regarding safety issues in Ward 10 (as this is an issue we deal with ALL THE TIME — every single time I walk around the neighborhood I think there’s at least one car that turns on us without looking, and crossing the street by the Walker is particularly scary), and the recommendation was to look both ways. If only a small portion of the energy being expended on this patio ordinance was channeled towards addressing pedestrian safety we might actually be able to see some positive changes. Changes that would increase the quality of life for all those who live and visit the area, not to mention could potentially save lives in the future. The pedestrian safety issue seems far worse than it did just a few years ago, yet instead we spend all this time talking about patios?!?

      • Peter Kim says:

        Thanks Anders and Cedar

        I totally agree with both of you that pedestrian safety was compromised.
        We have so many visitors driving through neighbors and police have limited resources.
        My neighbor and I are dealing with one-way violator every 30 minutes and there is nothing we can do about it.

        I think security camera idea may play a big role with media’s help since anonymity is a major problem.

        Some way, we need to form a legal path to use captured data to go after dangerous drivers.
        and also let visitors know there are cameras.

        I personally don’t mind paying for it if I can legally use the data.

        But over all, it is sad that we have to think about this way.

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