Restaurants fight City Council move to restrict outdoor dining

Categories: News
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City Council wants to tighten restrictions on outdoor dining and drinking.
In the depths of winter, it can be hard to remember the pleasures of drinking a beer at an outdoor table, watching the world go by.

But with the City Council threatening to tighten restrictions on outdoor dining, hundreds of people are mobilizing to defend on of the great joys of summer in Minneapolis.

The proposed amendment would set a "maximum customer capacity" for the outdoor areas of bars and restaurants, and penalize establishments that allowed that number to be exceeded. That would mean no stepping outside to smoke, no running into people and sitting down at their table, no getting a breath of fresh air.

Councilwoman Meg Tuthill, who sponsored the amended ordinance, says she wrote it to try to keep a lid on the nightlife in her home neighborhood of Uptown. Patrons of the bars and restaurants tend to park on residential streets, she says, causing congestion and waking residents up when they return to their cars at the end of the night.

"It starts at midnight and goes to about three in the morning six nights a week," Tuthill says. "It's out of control."

It isn't just the late-night noise that's the problem, Tuthill says. It's the behavior of people leaving Uptown bars and restaurants as they pass through the neighborhood on the way to their cars.

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Ten Safe Frogs
Red Stag

"Along with all the traffic comes vandalism of the property, from ripping up plants to urinating and throwing up in our yards and our porches," Tuthill says. "That kind of vandalism and behavior is not appropriate any place."

But if Tuthill thought her ordinance change would go down smoothly, she was mistaken.

As word of the proposed changes got out to to bar and restaurant owners, they were understandably outraged. Tuthill's tactics to coral the chaos at places like Cowboy Slim's in Uptown could potentially devastate business like the mild-mannered Brasa in Northeast, which doubles its seating capacity with outdoor seats during the summer months.

"It just doesn't make any sense," says Kim Bartmann, who owns Barbette, Bryant Lake Bowl, and Red Stag, among others. "There are very few patios that are causing most of the problems, and legislating broadly against a very few problematic properties doesn't serve the city well."

Bartmann and other restaurant- and bar-owners wanted to get word of the proposed regulations out to the public, so they started a Facebook page called Minnesotans for Going Outside. Within hours, they had more than 800 fans, and the Facebook wall was filling up with angry supporters

Tuthill says the restaurateurs and their supporters are overreacting.

"Are we talking about putting an end to outdoor dining? Absolutely not," she says. "We're talking about small changes and clarifications to the existing ordinance."

Even so, Tuthill yanked the proposed ordinance changes from last week's City Council meeting, pledging to solicit more input from the community.

"I have every intention of bringing it back to the table," Tuthill says. "This is all about creating a balance."

SLIDESHOW: View the proposed ordinance
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68 comments
KelseyB
KelseyB

I am not sure I understand the connection between outdoor patios and heavy traffic in Uptown. If you don't enjoy the traffic and you live there then don't live there. And if you were that ignorant to think you were moving into a quiet neighborhood then the joke is on you. Limiting patio usage has nothing to do with the fact that there are a lot of fun restaurant and bars in Uptown that people will always enjoy going to. Hurting the businesses because you don't like that they are popular does not better Minnesota's economy. Move out of Uptown if you don't like it because the drunks and the bars aren't going anywhere.

Sophia Green
Sophia Green

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Guest
Guest

All those cars carry people that are spending loads of money in your neighborhood. If she doesn't see that, she really is short-sighted. And I do live in Minneapolis, Peter, so you can go back in your cage.

UptwonRes
UptwonRes

I live in Uptown. A few years ago a patron was returning to his car with his fiance, his sister, and his mother. A mugger (drawn to Uptown by the easy pickings) stuck a gun in this man's face - Michael Zebur - and shot him point blank on the sidewalk.

It ain't just the noise. It is a public safety concern. And if the business community does not like it, then they need to get the bad actors among them to shape up. At the time people said "who would have thought. It is a one time event." I live here. I see the criminals pull up in cars and wait. I see the blood of victims on the sidewalk in front of my house. I am predicting that this type of crime will happen again in this and other neighborhoods as criminals prey on the drunks walking back to cars in dimly lit neighborhoods. the next young man murdered in front of his mother and lover will not be an accident - it will be a calculated price of doing business.

I applaud Meg. If you don't like her ordinance, offer something else. So far all that has been offered is lip service.

Wardactivist
Wardactivist

Meg Tuthill is among the best city council members we've had in decades to represent our ward! I haven't yet read the proposed ordinance, but will attempt to do so and to inform myself about its particulars. As for Meg, she has a unique well-rounded background compared to many others elected to office -- strong personal experience in public advocacy, private business, neighborhood and school affairs, all the time handling the domestic duties of wife/mom/grandmother, etc. She's got a solid base of voter support in the Ward. Meg truly respects having a good mix of businesses, the need to maintain a vibrant strong residential base (in an area where property values & property taxes remain relatively "high" compared to several other spots), and whenever possible she attempts to strike a 'balance' among numerous interests/stakeholders. Year in and year out, Meg rolled up her sleeves to make the area a better place to live and work -- for decades in the Wedge and areas nearby/across the City, etc. She's saved lovely historic homes from unnecessary demolition, owned a long-time business on Hennepin Avenue which provided jobs for youth during robust and recessionary periods, volunteered with the schools/neighborhoods/police groups and business efforts (she founded the South Hennepin Business Assn. in early 1990s...was on the LHENA board), started "recycling" before it was a household word or common practice, etc. As a CM she and her Council staff are very responsive to constitutents, so if any one wishes to propose amendment(s) to the proposed ordinance, simply email your suggestions to the CM's office. I presume there will be a public hearing, too, and any one can share their thoughts at that public venue. On any given day, I don't always agree on "everything" with every elected official, city staff, my husband or a friend/acquaintance, a developer/business proponent of something or other -- that's the nature of things. I hope folks, especially those who are strongly opinionated and who "care alot" about something will "show up" and do the "work" involved in crafting workable solutions, consensus, compromise.

Crg_wickstrom
Crg_wickstrom

And limiting outdoor dining is going to put an end to this behavior? How?

RV
RV

Hey Meg,How will limiting outdoor seating at bars and restaurants keep patrons quiet after bar close? I think if you don't enjoy the nuiansances that come with living in a vibrant neighborhood maybe you should move. Don't ruin it for everyone else because you're up tight.

mikeynortheast
mikeynortheast

What exactly does a bar patio have to do with drunk people walking in front of your place or screaming down the street when they are bar hopping. I live in NE a block away from 4 different bars in all directions, it isn't these bars' patios that I hear, its people walking past my place from bar to bar. This is a stupid ordinance she's trying to pass. You're not going to stop people from going to bars and behaving like idiots. Its a part of living in the heart of the city, get over it or move to a quiet neighborhood.

Eric
Eric

This lady hasn't a clue on what this ordinance will do with summertime business. If they were to pass it, patrons would not only stop going out to bars downtown in the summer, but in the winter as well. When you have a city that prides itself on summertime celebrations outside after a long winter, the ordinance will get no support from patrons, bars, and businesses. So if she is a council member representing the people of her district, and the people of her district says they strongly DO NOT support this ordinance, then why push it.

Mpls1223
Mpls1223

Regulating this is not the answer. It will not stop people from drinking too much or the bad behavior. In addition, how does the city propose to pay for enforcement of this? We are in a budget crisis, and this will create additional costs to both the city and the businesses. I like right in the heart of Uptown and I wouldn't change a thing. I agree that Meg is out of touch on this one.

LBR
LBR

Uptown is the fun zone. Don't live there if you don't like the nightlife. Dinner and drinks on the patio is my favorite thing about the summer. I understand if you don't care for such a thing, it's not for everyone ... but a suburban neighborhood might suit you better.

Also, some of the bad behavior you mentioned isn't the result of "bars with patios" but of all bars. To combat that you might need to increase police presence and work with bar owners to motivate them to cut off "that guy" before he becomes a problem.

Cityzozo
Cityzozo

This is way out of hand. We've been living in Uptown for 10 years and the balance is out of control. Meg is very cool. She cares deeply about her constituents, all ages. She is the last person who should move to the suburbs. That would not help anyone. She is only trying to strike a balance between the "screamers" that visit Uptown who don't live here and the taxpayers who take the hit by having their properties destroyed by the screamers walking back to their car. One very smart solution is that the uptown ramp would be free or reduced in price so that it can contain the idiot drunks. Small bars like BLB and Barbette are not the problem at all, the more "clubby, suburban bars" are causing this annoyances. I love the smaller independent places, I visit them often and spend my money there because they do honor the neighborhood, they are places you actually see your neighbors. Thanks!

Erik L.
Erik L.

Meddlin' Meg Tuthill desperately needs to read Jane Jacobs' book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities."

Mike
Mike

What a terrible idea, and unlikely to fix the problem. Balance? I don't think so.

Lucius Luther
Lucius Luther

why not work with the restaurants to address the problems rather than create a new law that has to be enforced? when will we start talking to each other rather than talking about each other?

Mike
Mike

Tuthill is way out of line on this one, someone please reel her back into reality before she morphs into another Michelle Bachmann!!

East Coast Doug
East Coast Doug

Yes, I see, patios are responsible for all the problems. People just go crazy once they can dine outside. Maybe the liberals that read/write this publication will realize that rules upon rules are not what anyone needs. But this is what you get from the Mpls uber liberal City Council (many who never got intellectually out of 9th grade.) What does one expect when living in the proximity of 20 - 30 bars / resturants??

Jumba
Jumba

I agree that if people are not responsibly leaving the area, then action needs to be taken. But I don't enforcing this through the political system. Maybe increase the taxes to pay for law enforcement to keep the peace. Politicians need to serve us more, and less the special interest groups and their own agenda. I wonder if this was not a personal issue whether she would have put this much effort in. Sales Tax increase to pay for the law enforcement that have to police the area - pretty simple.

John Armstrong
John Armstrong

The little piece I find silliest:

"It shall be an affirmative duty of the license holder...to maintain and provide when requested accurate occupancy counts for any outdoor area."

So the restaurant/bar is essentially expected to pay someone to sit there and keep count as people enter and leave the patio area in case some city official happens to come by and ask how many people are there.

Amy_donahue
Amy_donahue

fuck the city council, they are a bunch of control freak commies, thune ,lantry , that old bitch kahn , she was a carpet bagger who should of stayed in new york... who the hell do these people think they are, in school they were the ones who never picked during recess ,now their plotting revenge..

bri-bri
bri-bri

"That would mean no stepping outside to smoke, no running into people and sitting down at their table, no getting a breath of fresh air."

Zuh? The proposal wouldn't ban outdoor seating, just further regulate it.

Anyway, I agree that youth 'n booze-fueled din is part of Uptown life. An ordinance that many ward constituents and businesses will obviously oppose hardly seems like a politically savvy move. But will anyone remember this in the booth in 2014?

Robbie
Robbie

In order to start making changes, you will need to get off Facebook and stop posting about your self involved "look at me" lives and start actually speaking about things that matter, which include your community and just yourselves!

***SHOULD BE READ AS***

In order to start making changes, you will need to get off Facebook and stop posting about your self involved "look at me" lives and start actually speaking about things that matter, which include your community, NOT just yourselves!

Bill_I_Am
Bill_I_Am

Tuthill begins by restricting the sale of liquor and now wants to restrict outdoor dining... Its apparent she's out of tune with her constituents!

Robbie
Robbie

There is a very simple solution to this problem. However, it will not change the fact that many of the people they are talking about are not individuals getting into their cars parked in the neighborhoods. The truth is, many of these people are not going to their automobiles, they are walking home, back to the same areas that these angry individuals call home too! However, if one fine selling point on this restriction is in regard to people walking back to their automobiles, I propose that Uptown do the same thing that other major cities in America (ie. Chicago) with overpopulated, congested neighborhoods have done. The solution could be to restrict parking, only allowing those with special permits to park in their respective neighborhoods. With those parking permits, residents would also receive temporary permits for their guests while visiting. Could it be that simple?

On another note. We need to take a fine look at what has happened in the state of Wisconsin in order to take future action in regard to those individuals we decide to represent us in our publicly elected offices. The bottom line is, WE THE PEOPLE put these individuals in their seats and there is nobody to blame but ourselves when policies are put into effect that work against, not for the people. Further more, Uptown is not just young people. There are many older, well respected individuals with an extreme amount of money who actually inform themselves about the individuals running for office and VOTE! If the young people want to see change, they too, need to inform themselves and get out there and VOTE! In order to start making changes, you will need to get off Facebook and stop posting about your self involved "look at me" lives and start actually speaking about things that matter, which include your community and just yourselves!

God Bless.

me
me

well, then don't live in uptown.

yikes
yikes

It's a kind of a shame. When I saw Meg Tuthill running for city council I was very excited because she has a lot of history in Uptown. But this kind of ordinance is ridiculous and pushes against one of *the* reasons Minneapolis is a great place to be in the summer. Hate to say it, but I'm sorry she is on our city council.

kevin sawyer
kevin sawyer

Does Tuthill do anything other than advance initiatives designed to placate her peevish, narrow constituency of wealthy supporters? She has to be the most useless government employee in the city.

Ghutym
Ghutym

Seriously, Meg would rather live in Blight than enjoy the vibrancy of the Uptown area. She is attempting to cut back on the noise by limiting Patio seating??? That only limits the Uptown Businesses revenue. She is supposed to represent the whole of the Uptown area not just her friends and nieghbors

mattaudio
mattaudio

So you're saying it's the bar and bargoers who are at fault for being mugged and murdered? I offer up this idea: Go after the people committing crime, either because they are drunk or because their victims are drunk.

mattaudio
mattaudio

So then why would she try to destroy some of the best things about our city, namely outdoor dining? If she has something against living near party animals, she should have never moved to uptown. I go to uptown to party with friends, but I bought a house in a quiet neighborhood where there's not a lot of bars. But my neighborhood IS full of great restaurants which have outdoor dining in the summer. So you're darn right I will do whatever it takes to see that this misguided policy fails.

kevin sawyer
kevin sawyer

Subsidizing the parking ramp would be a very smart solution. Regulating patio patronage would be a very dumb solution. Since Tuthill advocates the latter, she is being criticized. What is out of hand about that?

UptwonRes
UptwonRes

We have had numerous meetings over the last four years to address this problem. And get NO SUPPORT form local businesses. None. Just more requests to further expand drinking by stacking patios ON TOP of roof top patios to cram more drinking into a small area.

This is about the business community doing nothing to support the local neighborhood. They could solve this problem if they chose - and they have chosen not to solve it.

Peter
Peter

Lucius...sadly All neighborhoods and residents have been doing that in past 5-6 years. Nothing got better and we had an miserable ex-council member who even did not bother to show up at neighborhood board meeting.We also got more bars and more outdoor patios recently.

These are basics that we need to follow:

First of All, All bars and restaurants need to realize that over serving with alcohol will has tremendous consequences for their business.

Second of All, We will try to require restricted parking only for residents so limit park and walk drinkers. Every 10 minutes, they will be a traffic cop.

Third, we might install security camera and catch all violations. Remember Chicago security cam caught shovel thief?

Let us know if you have good ideas..

Peter
Peter

How dare you to compare Meg to MB?You don't know her and I don't know even you voted on City council election.Do you even live in Minneapolis? If not, you do not deserve any right to comment.

If you don't volunteer at least 10% of your time, do it and then you have some right to say things as long as you live in Minneapolis.

AG
AG

you're missing the point. it has nothing to do with what side of the political spectrum meg or the readers fall on; it's about taking away one of the few luxuries left for the people who put up with 9 months of shitty weather. it's bad enough that NO bars allow smoking (and i am a non-smoker), but to limit patio space and not allow smoking there either? all because she doesn't like what comes with the territory. i also lived in uptown and moved to downtown after one year. not because of the noise or partying, but because of people like her ruining what made uptown so charming and special. if you want the uptown of 10-15 years ago, head to NE. it's no surprise so many people are gravitating in that direction.

Peter
Peter

I respect your approach and that might work. I am wondering if it is easy to add any tax increase in the city system. It is much effective way to add ordinance.Uptown is only one area that has more occupants than allowed. Also only few areas that they serve too much drinks for younger drinkers.If we don't act, Uptown can be like Dinkytown near U. No family wants to live there and "Charm" from private residency disappear.Do you want to see that happening?Dry commerce, bars, apartment and flat house?No gardening, No kids playing, No home ownership, No well-maintained historic homes.

Peter
Peter

Only 3,000 people votes in 10th ward and she won by over 90% vote.She attends all neighborhood meetings and spend her time with constituents.If you don't know her and what she do for 10th ward, avoid commenting.

Peter
Peter

I really like your comments.I think restrict parking totally make sense and I will try to push that agenda.Meg is 1,000% better council member than ex-council member in 10th ward. This ordinance might not fit all city but she got the point.People who made mess usually drive and have no respect to the neighborhood.

She said she will listen and we will see how this comes out.She is the hard-working council member that I will re-elect for the next term.

mattaudio
mattaudio

Peter, maybe if you got out and socialize on outdoor patios during the summer, you'd realize its your neighbors who walk back from the bars to their homes past your home.

Also please enlighten us on "Peter's criterion regarding the over-serving of alcohol." I'm sure it's not subjective or misguided, so we might as well use it. Thanks in advance!

Geist
Geist

Security cameras in our neighborhoods is a really stupid idea. You are stupid.

Peter
Peter

Maybe you are right. Uptown changed.We got Apple Store and major retail stores. People drive here to enjoy shopping and historic/eclectic combinations.There are not many median house in this area. Either over $350,000 or rental.

To East Coast Doug, Meg is well serving 10th ward with her diligent work and time you cannot even imagine.

People in Uptown often have older homes and when weather is nice they like to sleep with windows open after 12:00 A.M.But this drunk kids yelling and puking 3-4 in the morning all summer.Remember they bought this house 20-30 years ago when this neighborhood was like N Minneapolis. They are the one make this better neighborhood.

It is ok that Bars and restaurant take advantage of their efforts and nice neighborhood yet they need to show respect.

If you like to live in Dinkytown, go ahead. We will not allow to become one.

uptwonres
uptwonres

We tried to get permit parking passed, but Ralph misinformed us and after getting the required signatures the city attorney shot it down. So back to the drawing board.

UptwonRes
UptwonRes

I have lived here 17 years and know my neighbors. It ain't the neighbors causing the problem folks.

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