Bar patio ordinance moves one step closer

The Minneapolis City Council will vote on whether to ban music from some bar patios after 10 p.m.

Annie Padovese, left, sips a Surly with Eleni Ayo Caros, center, Lana Hogan, right, and friends Sunday afternoon on the patio at Burrito Loco.

Erin Westover

Annie Padovese, left, sips a Surly with Eleni Ayo Caros, center, Lana Hogan, right, and friends Sunday afternoon on the patio at Burrito Loco.

by John Hageman

Minneapolis business owners are making noise over the City CouncilâÄôs efforts to keep neighborhood bars quiet at night.

Ward 10 Councilwoman Meg TuthillâÄôs proposed changes would halt amplified noise on patios after 10 p.m. and require bar owners to set a capacity limit on their outdoor patios. Bars in downtown Minneapolis would be exempt from the changes.

Bar and restaurant owners packed into the council chambers to protest the changes during a public hearing at a committee meeting on the ordinance Monday, while just a handful of residents came to support them.

About 30 people testified at the meeting before the changes were passed by the committee. The proposal will go before another committee June 16 before it goes to a full council vote the following day.

There was some initial outcry when Tuthill introduced the proposal in March. She sent it back for staff review, but few changes were made before it re-emerged Monday.

SallyâÄôs Saloon and Eatery co-owner Tony Patterson said the restrictions unfairly target businesses outside of downtown.

âÄúWe are all for balance with ordinances for residential versus commercial,âÄù Patterson said at the hearing. âÄúBut we feel that excluding Stadium Village and other thriving business districts outside and often adjacent to the downtown zone will tip the competitive balance âĦ toward the downtown zone.âÄù

Todd Klingel, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, echoed PattersonâÄôs concern. He said part of a barâÄôs appeal was the music and ambiance it provides âÄî taking it away would âÄúmake it harder for them.âÄù

âÄúMost people donâÄôt even start until 10 at night,âÄù Klingel said. âÄúIf you turn off the music, I do believe youâÄôll send people to bars where you havenâÄôt turned off the music.âÄù

Despite its location on the University of MinnesotaâÄôs West Bank, Nomad World Pub pays the downtown entertainment tax, owner Todd Smith said. The Nomad would still be subject to the changes.

Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon expressed concern that businesses outside of downtown were being unfairly punished while those downtown go unaffected.

âÄúIf we are going to have anything, I would like some kind of ordinance thatâÄôs citywide,âÄù Gordon said.

He added that some of the vague language included in the ordinance makes him wary of its consequences.

Several bar owners said they worried about one piece of the proposal, which could give the city the ability to impose restrictions on any bar patio that it desires.

The voices of opposition at the hearing dwarfed those who support the proposal as a means of keeping their neighborhoods quiet at night.

Kris Prince, an Uptown resident, said that noise coming from a bar a mile away woke her up one night.

âÄúUptown is not just for partiers,âÄù Prince said. âÄúFamilies live here too.âÄù

Tuthill, who represents the Uptown neighborhood, said her ordinance is trying to strike a âÄúbalanceâÄù between residents and bars. Some of her constituents have had to put their kids to bed with earplugs due to the noise, she said.

A few residents from the Cedar-Riverside area said that bocce ball players at the Nomad World Pub have woken them up at night.

But Gordon said he wasnâÄôt sure how the ordinance changes would solve the problem of loud bars. Bar owners questioned how the city would monitor their businesses, and said that more enforcement of a few âÄúbad applesâÄù would be a better solution.