It took another 2-1/2 hours of public debate but the City Council Tuesday voted 3-2 to accept the unanimous decision of the Planning Commission last month and allow Barone's Restaurant to open earlier, stay open later and offer outdoor music from as many as three stages six days a week.
There was one modification to the Planning Commission's decision: Joseph and Maricela Barone, owners of the restaurant at 475 St. John St. said they will build an eight-foot-high, 40 foot-long wall along the western edge of their spacious backyard patio where wedding receptions and nighttime entertainment occur to help soften the noise level for those living in townhouses on the other side.
An estimated 100 filled the council chambers, mostly in support of the Barone's bid, to speak in favor of downtown music and entertainment and against an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision by Councilman Matt Sullivan. He said that while he supports the effort to boost downtown business with music, dancing and other entertainment opportunities, he wants more protection from the increasing noise and traffic for residents who live nearby.
Most of the opposition to the special use permit the Planning Commission authorized concerned the proposed extended hours of the restaurant and entertainment, allowing the Barone's to serve food and alcohol from 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.
Ed and Diane Churka, who live near Barone's, said the hours are too much and the noise too loud for their residential neighborhood.
But First Street resident Kevin Gallagher reiterated what he said at the Planning Commission hearing: "(Pleasanton) is losing customers to Livermore, Walnut Creek. The positive aspects far outweigh the negatives of living downtown."
Representatives of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, the Pleasanton Downtown Association and 30 others who addressed the council Tuesday said added entertainment and longer restaurant hours are just what the downtown business district needs.
In the end, the council voted 3-2 to accept the Planning Commission's decision and to deny an appeal of that decision by Councilman Sullivan. Joining Sullivan in voting against the Barones' bid was Councilwoman Cindy McGovern, who objected to the extended hours when alcoholic beverages could be served.
Sullivan said he is concerned about the steady increase in nighttime activities in the downtown area and wants the council to take a look at how they are impacting the nearby residential areas.
"With all this effort to help businesses downtown, we can't forget that our downtown is also a place where people live, too," Sullivan said. "I think we need to do a better job of balancing activities there."