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Los Gatos will allow entertainment 'by right'

July 14,2016 15:11

Los Gatos has a new policy that allows most businesses to have entertainment "by right" before 10 p.m., as long as they comply with the town's noise ordinance. But businesses that have conditional use permits that specifically prohibit entertainment ...

By Judy Petersonjpeterson@bayareanewsgroup.comLos Gatos has a new policy that allows most businesses to have entertainment "by right" before 10 p.m., as long as they comply with the town's noise ordinance. But businesses that have conditional use permits that specifically prohibit entertainment must still have their permits modified.The policy was approved by the town council June 21 on a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Barbara Spector voting "no."The entertainment policy applies town-wide and is not tied to the town's alcohol policy.Economic vitality manager Monica Renn explained how the policy will work."By enacting this policy, anybody who doesn't have a conditional use permit that explicitly disallows entertainment could immediately move forward and have it," Renn said. "Anybody who has a condition within their conditional use permit that prohibits entertainment would need to come back for a CUP modification."Similar businesses that need a CUP modification have the option of applying as a group, which Renn says will "cut costs." However, modification decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.Also, the policy identifies any entertainment that occurs after 10 p.m. as late night entertainment, which the town says is a "discretionary privilege." Businesses that want late night entertainment must receive a special entertainment permit.Advertisement
In other words, businesses cannot have entertainment "by right" after 10 p.m.The entertainment policy was several years in the making, as Carry Nation's bartender Candace Lopez well knows. She says she spent five years asking the town for permission to have a jazz trio perform at the downtown bar on Monday nights."It's unfortunate that it took so long for this decision to be made," Lopez said. "But at the end of the day it was the right decision."Looking ahead, Lopez is now thinking about having music during Friday night happy hours. "The goal for downtown now should be to work together to attract and support upscale entertainment that's consistent with the town's values. I'm excited to see what happens."Lopez isn't the only downtown employee who was previously stopped from having entertainment: Longtime Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company employee Tim McKinney said he performed at the coffee shop "dozens of times" with an acoustic trio and had to stop because it wasn't permitted.Which is why Lopez pointed out that "this isn't just about me. This is about businesses that want to provide something new for their customers." The policy was developed with input from local businesses, Councilwoman Marcia Jensen saying that businesses asked for a simple set of rules."Please make the rules simple, please make them straightforward, please make them applicable to everyone so that they can understand them," Jensen said. "This policy tries to do that."But Mayor Spector wasn't satisfied with the policy's enforcement provisions. The police department and the town's nighttime code compliance officer would be responsible for enforcing the rules. Even so, Spector worried about the response time to complaints.A town staff report says the night time community service officer and/or police would investigate complaints "within minutes or hours." Officers would use a calibrated meter to measure noise levels. If levels are too high, the business would be asked to lower the volume.Repeat violators could be fined. Businesses with entertainment permits could have their permits suspended or revoked."I've heard of people downtown who are concerned about noise, who have had bad experiences with noise and I have been one of them," Spector said.Spector added that she wants to get feedback on the policy "after summer" and plans to put a policy review on the town council agenda this fall.Visit losgatosca.gov/entertainment for more information.

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