Mountain View Voice

News - June 1, 2012

Neighbors frothing over beer garden plan

by Daniel DeBolt

A handful of condo dwellers on Bryant Street have so far been successful in blocking a new restaurant and beer garden proposed for 895 Villa Street, but applicant Ted Kim is asking for the City Council to reverse the decision before summer break.

Kim says he will pay a $2,500 fee by June 1 to appeal the ruling by Zoning Administrator Peter Gilli, who cited neighbor concerns about noise in capping the proposed restaurant's patio use to 6 p.m. half the year and 8 p.m. the other half.

"It would be a huge part of our business we'd be losing," Kim told the Voice. The business would not be viable without the patio open for diner, he said. He had already reduced the patio's size from 160 to 64 seats and moved the restaurant's entrance off Bryant Street.

Kim says it's been his dream for five years to open a "German-inspired American rendition of a beer garden," and says the Villa Street location was seen as the perfect spot after a year-and-a-half-long search. He plans to invest $1 million in the restaurant and hire over 60 employees to serve "gourmet comfort food" and "high-end beer." And he's recruited an award-winning chef, he said.

The proposal was effectively blocked by a handful of neighbors in the 20 unit-condo complex at 230 Bryant Street, some of whom attended the May 9 administrative zoning hearing. They complained about existing problems with the Monte Carlo night club, whose patrons spill out into the parking lot behind 895 Villa at 2 a.m. and are known to urinate, fight and litter near the condos.

"Until the noise problem at present levels is mitigated, I wouldn't want to expand alcohol licenses," said 230 Bryant Street resident David Lynn.

"I personally don't want listen to 64 people talking outside my bedroom window seven days a week," said another resident, Michelle Lynn.

Roger Koa, the owner of 895 Villa, was incensed by the comments.

"Stein's Beer garden hasn't opened yet," Koa said. "How can you complain they are noisy?"

Comparisons were made to the Tied House next door, as it has an outdoor patio behind it facing another condo complex at 108 Bryant Street. Kim says he wants the same hours as the Tied House, which is open until 10 p.m. most nights, and 11 p.m. on Fridays. Lynn claimed he could hear people cheering at the Tied House Patio during hockey games. "I like the Sharks but sometimes my child is trying to sleep," he said.

Others disagreed.

"It would be a nice addition to downtown," said Cliff, a resident of 108 Bryant. "It's not a club, it's not a bar, it's a restaurant. They serve high quality beer. It's not Budweiser and people are not doing keg stands. With the amount of tax money it would bring, it would help the city."

"I don't like going to crowded, obnoxious bars on Castro Street," said one resident who didn't give a name. "If Stein's is not invited into our community, people will continue to go elsewhere, including myself."

"I feel very strongly that this new tenant should be treated in a welcoming way," said downtown resident Julie Lovins. "I live across the street from a beer garden that seats 100 on the patio. We never hear them, they are wonderful neighbors."

At least one neighbor may be willing to compromise.

"To me, 9 o'clock does seem somewhat appropriate, rather than 11," said Kristen Yee, adding that a 10 p.m. closing time on weekends also seems acceptable.

Gilli said the staff had come up with the proposed 7 p.m. closing time, which was modified to allow the patio to be open until 8 p.m. only during half the year when the days are longer, and 6 p.m. the other half.

Gilli said it would be irresponsible for Kim to invest up to $1 million on the project if there were just going to be problems with neighbors. "If Tied House were coming in right now, they to go through exactly the same thing," Gilli said.

Kim said that such hours for the patio would be a deal-breaker. "We cannot have a viable business under these terms," he said.

Neighbors said Sonoma Chicken Coop spent much of a year looking at the property, and so did six other businesses, Kim said.

"Sonoma Chicken Coop was told the same thing — the outdoor dining is going to be a problem," Gilli said.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Mark, a resident of Shoreline West
on May 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I live about 6 blocks from downtown MV, and I can hear the thumping music and yelling coming from the late-night downtown businesses every night, but especially on Friday and Saturday nights. I can only imagine how loud it is to those folks who live in downtown. Were these loud, noisy businesses open late-night hours before these folks moved into downtown MV? If so, doesn't seem fair to change the rules after you've jumped into the game. Then again, my peace of mind, my quality of life, shouldn't suffer so that a small handful of downtown MV businesses can make money. The businesses are GOOD for the tax base, but BAD for the local citizenry who just want some peace and quiet to enjoy after a hectic workday.


Posted by Doctor Killjoy, a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 31, 2012 at 5:21 pm

If Mountain View at large wants to cut the crime rate down to a minimum overnight, all we need to do is get rid of the nightclubs that are patronized by out of town troublemakers. Problem sorted. A quiet beer garden like Tied House or Esther's Bakery on San Antonio Rd. (which has a beer garden, NOT the related Esther's in the San Antonio Shopping Center), then I say fine.


Posted by William, a resident of The Crossings
on May 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm

But then where will all the 20 and 30 something Googlers and renters go for fun? Are they all expected to retreat to their rental cells every night and only come out for the Farmers' Market?

I'm all for a beer garden. And if the noise bothers you, I will give the same comeback that I get when I complain about the Caltrain noise. If you bought a house near a vibrant downtown full of restaurants and bars or support the development of Castro Street, don't complain after the fact.


Posted by Ingnto, a resident of Jackson Park
on May 31, 2012 at 10:35 pm

True that William!


Posted by haoleboy, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 1, 2012 at 6:24 am

If you haven't been subjected to the crap that goes on between 2&4 AM weekends and some weeknights as well you should stay out of the discussion! There never used to be people drinking in their cars and vomiting, defecating, you name it until all these bars opened. Once they're there it takes the city forever to shut down a bad one such as the Slimelite now reincarnated as the Monte Carlo. The lowlifes that come here from other cities have no consideration for others and continually demonstrate it. This wasn't going on when I bought my house and I don't care to add to what is already a streesful situation.


Posted by Rene, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 1, 2012 at 8:05 am

Well get ready for more of the same with the all the high-density beehives they are constructing near downtown. Roof-top gardens, beer gardens, you name it. It's going to be party town.


Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 1, 2012 at 9:44 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

I attended the May-9 Steins zoning hearing, and the hearing immediately after, about specific hours of the Monte Carlo nightclub. Observations from those hearings:

1. As the Voice reported above, a handful of (about four) 230-Bryant residents (Lin, not Lynn, was the written family name that I saw more than once) objected to Steins. Almost all of their comments concerned past alcohol-related disturbances from Monte Carlo nightclub (which has had 1-2AM closing times). Michele Lin, one of the speakers, had also filed a written objection to the Steins alcohol license, citing specific late-night problems from Monte Carlo (it did not explain how those concern Steins).

2. At the later hearing, on Monte Carlo itself, many specifics raised at the Steins hearing were repeated verbatim by the same group of people.

3. Several (10?) diverse Mountain View residents spoke supporting Steins. Essentially, all of the objection to Steins came from the handful 230-Bryant residents; essentially all of the other speakers supported Steins.

4. Resistance to Steins isn't universal even at 230 Bryant. At least one resident sent testimony (through another speaker) supporting the beer garden. (Separately, an upstairs resident at the Bryant-Dana corner, also overlooking the Monte Carlo parking lot, had written to the neighborhood email list "We wouldn't trade it for anything. We wanted urban feel, we got urban feel ... If they didn't want to live in an urban environment, why the heck would they buy a residence there?")

5. Zoning Administrator Peter Gilli, before his ruling, acknowledged some conflicting interests raised by speakers, including that 230 Bryant is in a transitional area combining businesses and residences. He did not acknowledge Julie Lovins' testimony that she lives near another, existing beer garden downtown and that they've been "wonderful neighbors."

6. Gilli also failed to acknowledge or recognize another principle here. The 230-Bryant condos are relatively recent, I saw them go up. (Mr Gilli himself, I believe, is fairly new to MV and may not be conscious of that change.) But restaurants and bars operated at night around Villa and Bryant long before those condos. (Tied House, Chez TJ with its outdoor deck used for receptions, Golden Wok restaurant, and of course the Monte Carlo's predecessor). Therefore, like the Bryant/Dana resident I quoted above, 230 Bryant's condo occupants knowingly chose to live in an existing nightlife district.

I resonate with concerns about residential noise. But the last point, and also that the 230-Bryant groups's complaints were mostly about Monte Carlo, repeated at the Monte Carlo hearing unconnected with Steins, weakens their argument I think.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

So let me get this straight, if you don't LIVE downtown then you can't possibly have an accurate opinion of noise or crowd control? Ridiculous...

First, I believe that there are THREE bars downtown... hardly a college downtown strip. No strip bars or crazy clubs. It's not Palo Alto University St. for goodness sakes. If there are fights and public indecency, etc., then call the police.

Second, there have been bars downtown for decades (hello, anyone remember Town Club?). The downtown may not have been a buzzing profit generator before, but it WAS a downtown regardless. It's not a surprise to anyone! Especially those who voluntarily MOVED there!

Thirdly, this city continues to grow rapidly. We bring in new restaurants and shops weekly that kill many of the old and charming Castro mom and pop stores. More companies pop up...and with them, the annoyingly loud traffic congesting construction of new eyesore blights rising tall where old MV sites used to sit. We have completely changed our old charm neighborhood beauty (not always for the better). HOWEVER many know that these businesses, "bars", and expansions mean more profit for the city and additional monies to support its programs/events and beauty.

If we continue to stifle this city, we will have the snoozefest downtown from 20 years ago and then all that will be left to complain about will be the LACK of bars, profits, parades, and people. I agree we can't go crazy and let it become University St. but I hardly think an upscale beer garden would accomplish that.

Compromise, people. WE MVers compromised when the neighborhood was uprooted to support your humongous condos... give back a little.


Posted by Monica, a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 2, 2012 at 3:39 am

I agree with William and Max. Downtown bars were there before 230 Bryant was even built. There are plenty of quiet neighborhoods in MV, many within convenient walking distance of downtown. If you didn't want to live in a nightlife area, why knowingly choose to live there?

In addition, downtown MV could use an upscale beer garden. Our downtown is one of the least gentrified in the area, with a surprisingly clubby/douchey nightlife, no less. It's embarrassing how much cuter other downtowns look in comparison—look at Redwood City, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, etc.


Posted by The Nose, a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2012 at 1:26 am

"It's embarrassing how much cuter other downtowns look in comparison—look at Redwood City, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, etc."

Walk a few blocks from downtown RWC and it's a mess, trash everywhere and junky storefronts...

Los Altos-- a morgue after 7pm on any given day

Sunnyvale==neverending redevelopment disaster, junky old strip malls and traffic nightmares


Posted by smadison, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm

smadison is a registered user.

[Reposting earlier comments from the other, identical article...]

I find it reprehensible that ONE resident can single-handedly jeopardize responsible business growth in downtown Mountain View. [Portion removed due to violation of terms of use: personal attack]

I purchased my home in Mountain View in 1990, specifically because of the downtown revitalization efforts that had just been launched. Over the past two decades, I have enjoyed the proximity to public transportation, services, and downtown destinations that have made Mountain View a bustling urban destination. I enjoy equally the sounds of the mockingbird who chirps a thousand songs outside my bedroom window every morning, as well as the toot of the trains as they rumble down the tracks. The swishing noises of cars zooming down 85 and 237 are as peaceful to me as crashing waves on a secluded beach.

If I didn't enjoy all that comprises the essence of Mountain View, I could instead have chosen to live in any number of other strip-mall ladden, ticky-tacky housing, dull suburban destinations in the area.

If you don't enjoy the vibrancy of our town, why persist in residing here (except for the opportunity to be a thorn in everyone's side). Those condos were built well AFTER the site of the proposed Stein's location, which has historically hosted indoor and outdoor dining, so there's no argument to be made that she didn't know what she was buying into.

I'm appalled that someone would move into MY neighborhood and then try to bend it to their will. This offends me. If you don't like it, move. We won't see the back of you soon enough.

Peter Gilli and Noah Downing, SHAME on you for kowtowing to the sentiments of a few non-representative members of our community over the wishes of all.

Now, is there a fund to which I can donate, to help cover the cost of Kim's appeal?


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