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on Jul 4, 2012
I attended both last night's Council meeting and May's zoning hearing whose decision was overturned last night.
In reviewing his May ruling to Council, Zoning Administrator Gilli wrote that restaurateur Ted Kim had, among other changes, reduced his outdoor seating plan from 165 to 64 to satisfy concerns from some 230-Bryant residents, but "the immediate neighbors still did not support the proposal." The ZA failed to explain that this was not immediate neighbors generally, but a specific group in a minority of 230-Bryant condos, who had some history of complaints over Monte Carlo patrons' behavior. I witnessed the ZA receiving other input in May supporting Steins, from another Bryant neighbor. Since then, others came forward: a close Bryant neighbor wrote emphatically to Council supporting Steins, a "very close" neighbor commented similarly here on the Voice online site Sunday, another spoke to me before last night's meeting, and when the 895-Villa property owner circulated a local petition seeking support for Steins, the only two immediate Bryant neighbors who answered his knock both supported Steins. That owner told me recently that he was bewildered by the local outpouring of support from both residents and downtown merchants, with over 300 supportive signatures in a few days. Council members remarked in passing last night that the considerable online buzz including on Facebook and the Voice Town Square essentially all supported Steins. They questioned the ZA over details from comparable situations such as Tied House (which faces the same condos from Villa St.) but the ZA could not answer questions such as Tied House's seating capacity. Although not called on to testify, the Police Chief attended, and commented to people waiting before the hearing that local restaurants featuring beer such as Tied House and SteakOut had no significant history of police complaints of the kinds associated with Monte Carlo in the past.
In public comment last night, the same group of 230-Bryant residents that I saw at the May hearing repeated concerns over noise, and their past bad experiences from Monte Carlo patrons. Ted Kim's sound engineer consultant testified that the projected sound impact would be very marginal given the strong existing sources he'd measured at 230 Bryant (mostly from traffic). Another speaker commented that most of the complaining group appeared to be related, though they had not said so in their comments. Veteran local realtor Ron Ikebe held up a real estate advertisement and observed that at least one 230-Bryant condo is for sale, advertised as a "quiet" site. Ikebe questioned whether maximizing selling price could be a factor in the objections to Steins from a small group of 230-Bryant residents. In terms of audience reaction, the strongest testimony came from restaurateur Ted Kim at the beginning, who put down his notes and spoke plainly (he received an ovation, prompting Mayor Kasperzak to caution the audience concerning Council meeting decorum). I have the impression that Kim will go out of his way not just to accommodate the few neighbors who raised all the fuss, but if possible to help them become friends.
After public input, Council debated. At least four members remarked to the effect that the complaining 230-Bryant residents were clearly aware, when they moved into 230 Bryant, that it was in a pre-existing commercial area with operating restaurants, so living with restaurant noises was to some extent their own choice. Jac Siegel offered to support Steins in the event of slightly more restriction or later review; but the other six Council members didn't go along with those limitations. The 6:1 final vote overturned Zoning Administrator Gilli's restriction of Steins' hours, so that the outdoor patio will operate until 10PM weekdays, 11PM Weekends, as appelant Ted Kim requested. (Early in the session, the ZA had also stated that under this outcome the City retains authority to re-examine Steins' permit in the event of any major problems associated with the new restaurant.)
I asked Ted Kim afterwards when he expected Steins to open and he said Autumn: November, possibly October. (FYI: In time for wild mushroom season -- a cornerstone of German cuisine.)
Mountain View is no longer a sleepy suburb. It is a global technology hub which needs more urban high density development. The beer garden will be a benefit to downtown, and should not be appreciably louder than the outdoor dining just down the street, or the numerous late night asian restaurants that have lined that location for 30 years.
Give the beer garden a noise ordinance waiver every 4 years for the world cup, and offer the residents a shrub wall with the room on the sidewalk to help dampen the noise.
WOOHOO! Another alcohol dispensary!!!
"James": "Another alcohol dispensary!!!"
Um, no. Another restaurant. (Most of the 95 downtown restaurants are licensed to serve beer and wine.) The bars are a different type of business.
As discussed at the Council meeting, some 80% of Steins's seating capacity is INdoors. The German-themed "Biergarten" with trellissed overhead vines is modeled on the common neighborhood establishments in central Europe serving food and drinks outdoors. Similar outdoor biergartens now operate nearby at SteakOut (383 Castro at California) and in Tied House's outdoor patio on Villa.
Apparently someone likes the sound of their own typing since they can't parse a restaurant dispensing alcohol. Even while commenting on restaurants that have alcohol licenses.
I like this idea to have a good beer garden..I think when you choose to live downtown in MV or in any other cities it is because you like life and to be in a busy area other way you will live in a very quiet and boring area...and I do not know why only the neighboor of this future restaurant needs to vote again...sorry no more chinese, indian, thai, japonese restaurants welcome Europe and beer garden. We live in a multicultural city and area and we need to open to anyone to eat different. The name beer garden does not mean beers or wines only ...foods will be seved and I hope good german foods.
Usa, Mountain View has a lot of citizens from different countries who are looking for freedom and to share everything good. Foods, drinks alcool or not is the first thing you share with friends to have a good time. Give a try to this beer garden
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