CITY HALL UPDATE // Outdoor patio ordinance pulled, task force to deal with noise issue

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July 4, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

Meg Tuthill postponed her outdoor patio ordinance so that she can start up a task force with stakeholders with the goal of finding a way to balance city nightlife and quiet neighborhoods.

The first-term city council member who represents Uptown and surrounding neighborhoods said she would invite restaurateurs, police, city regulatory staff, city council members and neighbors to the task force. Tuthill made the announcement June 16 — the day before the City Council was set to vote on her proposal.

“My feeling is to go the table with an open mind and listen and see what comes out of it,” she said.

Tuthill said she would target owners of restaurants in all different areas of the city so as to get a better idea of how other bars coexist with neighborhoods. Then, she said, changes could be made to the patio ordinance.  

“I absolutely believe in my heart of hearts that we can come to some kind of working agreement that will work for both the industry and the community,” she said.

Tuthill’s ordinance drew a couple dozen restaurant owners into City Hall at a June 6 public hearing to protest the proposal to set tighter capacity limits and cut amplified music at 10 p.m.

Those restaurateurs, she said, offered several good ideas for reducing the noise that spills into residential areas after bar close. Tuthill specifically mentioned Parasole Restaurant Holdings and that company’s ideas.

Parasole, which operates the Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group, Chino Latino, Il Gatto and several other Minneapolis restaurants, suggested more police patrols, parking changes at Calhoun Square, a neighborhood awareness program and better employee training to prevent problematic bar patrons from stumbling through neighborhoods.

Tuhill said she met with restaurant owners in May 2010 and told them the noise was getting out of hand and that neighbors had complained to her during her campaign for office. She says restaurateurs said they would make changes, but never did.

Mandate requires business recycling

While every city home is required to have a recycling receptacle, businesses had not been subject to the same requirement until June 17, when the City Council passed a commercial recycling mandate.

The mandate, in the form of an amendment to the city’s commercial building ordinance, will require that businesses purchase twice-a-month recycling collection as well as make room for on-site receptacles and post recycling instructions for employees.

It does not, however, require that businesses actually recycle.

City Council member Cam Gordon (2nd Ward) authored the amendment and said he’s hopeful it sends the message that recycling is the norm in Minneapolis.

“We’re going to be requiring property owners and managers of buildings to provide the opportunity for people to recycle, but we’re not going to have recycling police going out and looking in the garbage,” he said. “And there’s no fines for something that should be recycled going in the trash.”

Gordon’s amendment has the support of both the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Club.

The Chamber of Commerce, in its letter of support, said it sent out surveys to its 1,400 members, and 90 percent of respondents said they already recycle. About 65 percent of the respondents said they support the mandate or are neutral to it.

Commercial property owners who fail to follow the new rules are subject to a written warning followed by fines and, possibly, revocation of their commercial building registration.

According to the city, Minneapolis residents recycle or compost about 35 percent of their waste. The City Council set a goal of a 50 percent recycling rate by 2013.