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Commissioners Consider Live Music Prohibitions, Hear Progress on El Camino Real Specific Plan

Planning Commissioners were presented with two opportunities to reconsider prohibitions on live music in Santa Clara restaurant spaces at a meeting on April 10. The first was during deliberations on a request for an Alcohol Beverage Control use permit for a Del Frisco’s restaurant at 2855 Stevens Creek Boulevard. The commission approved the permit, however there was considerable discussion about a condition prohibiting amplified music on the premises.

The discussion was spurred by Planning Commission Chair Sudhanshu Jain’s concern that there’s a dearth of venues where live music is actually permitted in Santa Clara. In this case the prohibition remained because a representative for Del Frisco’s explained that amplified music wouldn’t be appropriate for the ambience and size of the restaurant. However the debate continued in the same vein later in the meeting.

Another application for an Alcohol Beverage Control use permit was on the agenda for Barebottle Brewery at 2520 Augustine Drive. Again the permit was approved, but this time a condition prohibiting live music was removed. The permit applicant explained the brewery is a satellite location of an establishment in San Francisco that also houses production operations and regularly has live music performances.

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“If they’re having it in San Francisco and other cities, this is why Santa Clara doesn’t have a nightlife,” said Commissioner Anthony Becker.

The brewery is located on the ground floor of Santa Clara Square, in a building with apartments above. The site is across from an office building. The applicant expressed that the opportunity to host musical entertainment in the space would be welcomed. At the request of the Irvine Company, which owns Santa Clara Square, an acoustic study will be performed at the brewery before any live music is allowed.

 

El Camino Real Specific Plan 

Beginning in September 2017, the City has been working on creating an El Camino Real Specific Plan to establish a framework for development of an area that runs along a 3.2 mile stretch of El Camino Real between Lawrence Expressway and Lafayette Street. Planning staff gave a presentation at the meeting summarizing the results of a public outreach effort that went through December 2018. During that time, a series of meetings, workshops and events were held where feedback was given by residents on various development issues for the plan area.

A total of 7,004 residential units and 457,535 square feet of commercial space can be accommodated within the plan area, some portion of which is already allowable by the General Plan. Some members of the public would like to see safer bike lanes and bus boarding islands, though a community member said at the April 10 meeting that adding bike lanes along El Camino Real will pose a safety risk given the amount of traffic and buses. Other feedback included requests for landscaped areas and street trees, a more walkable environment, improved connectivity, and greater pedestrian safety measures.

Potential community benefits associated with the plan could be an increase in residential density and opportunities for residential developments with no commercial space requirements. Commissioners discussed the ideas for building height restrictions that came out of the public outreach effort, and it’s likely that many more conversations on the topic will be had in the future with the particular consideration paid to balancing the trade-off between building height and housing affordability. Higher building heights allow for greater residential density, which in turn can incentivize developers to provide a higher percentage of affordable units.

 

Other Business

The April 10 meeting was the first for new Planning Commissioner Nancy Biagini.

The Planning Commission’s current budget for training and education for commissioners is $9,000. A request has been made to increase the budget by $18,000, which would need to be approved by City Council. The additional funds could pay for possible activities such as enabling all commissioners to attend the League of Cities Planning Commission Training. Three commissioners will be attending Prospect Silicon Valley Innovation Symposium on June 19 in San Francisco. Guidelines for travel and training expenditures will be given at the next Planning Commission meeting scheduled for April 24.

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