After two dozen speakers and two and a half hours, the Planning Commission Wednesday night granted Barone's restaurant its request to feature live music and entertainment on its outdoor patio.
Barone's, located at 475 St. John St., had begun offering live music on Thursday nights to drum up more business after the city approved a temporary permit in June to allow downtown businesses to offer the entertainment.
But the strumming of the guitars and the beats from the amplifiers haven't been music to some neighbors' ears. Those opposing what they said was excessive noise came out to the commission's meeting to help fill the packed Council Chamber. They spoke of their desire for more compromise, warned the commission about setting a precedent and said Barone's was using the down economy as an excuse to get more lax regulations.
St. John Street resident Diane Churka, who with her husband Bob once owned Coffee Roast Express across the street from the Rose Hotel, said while she supports having music downtown, her quality of life has been compromised.
"I think there has to be some give and take," she said.
To make his point, Ed Churka brought a boombox to the podium and turned the volume up on a country song while displaying a decibel meter. Another prop made its way to the podium, brought by Michael Nuppy, who is the landlord for some condos near the restaurant. Saying he felt owners Joseph and Maricela Barone should do more to compromise, he handed Maricela a glass he said was found in the bushes on his property.
St. John Street resident Charles Hunter added, "While it's fun to go to Bourbon Street, it's no fun to live there."
But despite the impassioned pleas of disgruntled neighbors, those in support of the restaurant outnumbered them. Many came in the form of downtown business owners and Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce members.
First Street resident Kevin Gallagher was somewhat in the minority Wednesday night--a downtown resident who experiences the noise, but understands that's what comes with the territory.
"(Pleasanton) is losing customers to Livermore, Walnut Creek," Gallagher said, adding that he's always hearing from friends that the city is lacking in nightlife. "The positive aspects far outweigh the negatives of living downtown."
A woman who lives on St. John Circle, just feet away from Barone's, said she moved downtown to be close to the hub of activity and said she likes the ambient music that comes with living nearby.
Opponents of the permit won a small battle as the commission elected to condition the approval such that Barone's couldn't have more than six days of live entertainment per week. The Barones said they don't expect to offer more than a few nights of live entertainment per week, but wished to have the flexibility for special events such as business meetings and wedding receptions.
Per the city staff's recommendation, the commission also unanimously approved extended hours--6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily with live outdoor entertainment permitted through 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and through 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.