Minneapolis patio ordinance heads for City Council vote

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cafeteria patio.jpg
The proposed law would add restrictions on patio capacity and late-night music
Opponents and supporters of a controversial proposal to add restrictions on restaurant patios packed a Minneapolis City Council committee meeting Monday night, and after a debate by more than two dozen speakers, the committee voted to send the issue to a showdown of the full City Council next week.

More than 100 bar and restaurant owners showed up at the meeting to oppose the measure, according to the Star Tribune.

Some Minneapolis residents also spoke in favor of the measure, the Strib reports, citing the steady disturbance of loud noise and music late at night from nearby businesses and their patrons.

The measure would, among other things, set limits on "maximum customer capacity" for outdoor patios, bar any amplified sound or speakers after 10 p.m., and allow the City Council to reduce the hours of any outdoor area and "impose any reasonable and necessary conditions upon operation" to address the concerns of neighbors. The ordinance would exempt restaurants and bars in the city's downtown core from the new restrictions.

Councilwoman Meg Tuthill revived the ordinance after introducing it--and quickly withdrawing it--last March when opposition quickly developed among bar and restaurant owners and some diners.

The new measure will be taken up by the City Council next Thursday, June 16, which promises to be another spirited hearing.

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The Star Tribune presents this in the typical owners-versus-residents battle, and in the article Tuthill is quoted as saying "those are always the people [bar owners] that come out."

But that is not really the case. There are a lot of people who are against this. I oppose the measure because it gives favor to businesses in downtown over those outside it, unnecessarily restricts amplification (10 pm, really? Do we have to wake up for church in the morning?) and allows the city council to impose arbitrary restrictions on restaurants. 

This is far too much power to give to the City Council. We've already seen this City Council change an ordinance to kill an individual business (a liquor store that was "too close" to an elementary school. It was across 4 langes of traffic and separated by a 10 foot tall fence! And last time I checked, 8 year olds can't buy alcohol. Again, this was driven by Tuthill.) Giving them more power is the opposite of what we need. 

I live in Uptown because I LIKE the vitality and excitement. Summer is so short in Minnesota, we have to enjoy every minute of it. 

I encourage everyone: if you are against this proposal, write your council member. They need to know this is not just "business versus residents". 

At the very least, the proposal needs to be watered down: 10pm is too early to shut off music at a reasonable volume, and the City Council should NOT have the power to impose conditions on businesses unilaterally. 


I used to live in Uptown because of the patio scene. It was awesome to be able to come home from work and go grab a drink at Stella's or Moto-i with friends. I understand that there are some residents that have been living in the area since before those businesses cropped up, but really -- their community has become more vibrant and successful because of these businesses. Grousing about having a popular business district seems silly to me -- especially as someone who lived right on Hennepin Avenue by Calhoun Square for years and it's honestly not that loud most of the time. For those who are irked by the noise, maybe now is the time to look into energy-efficient upgrades that will help soundproof your house, but the "I shouldn't have to move" argument I've heard is weak, because you're basically saying "I don't think anything should be allowed to change in a way that makes me less than comfortable." Times and areas evolve. I'm willing to bet the majority of Uptown residents don't want to lose the patio scene because it is a definite part of the draw. I honestly also think it's totally unrealistic to expect it to be totally quiet after 10 p.m. in a city on the weekend. If you want it to be quiet at 10, maybe it's time to consider moving to the burbs. 


These kind of things drive me crazy - - why would you live in uptown if you want it quiet.  That's like people living by St. Thomas and expecting that college kids won't be walking by, or for that matter have a party.  People - think about where you are moving to before you buy (or rent)! 


I don't get some of the criticism - If you want to hang out at bars until 2am on a patio playing loud music - go downtown.  I think people fail to understand other local residents perspective on this.  If you are leaving a bar late, have respect for the locals.  Personally, I'd be in favor of charging the additional cost of policing to the businesses and let them pay for it rather than pass any new laws.


I forgot why I don't hang out in uptown anymore, so thank you for the reminder... 


The thing is, there haven't been many problems (as noted by ptweet). This is a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Outdoor patios are a great asset to residents of Uptown or any other part of Minneapolis, particularly given our short summer. A few angry homeowners are attempting to impose an artificial residential homogeneity on basically the entire city outside of downtown. But restaurants, bars, and other businesses are an important component of our neighborhoods. The blending of businesses and residences is exactly what makes a city a city (just ask Jane Jacobs).

Regulations already exist -- use those to crack down on any problem spots. These new regulations are flawed: they put non-downtown businesses at a disadvantage, create completely impractical mandates, and perhaps most worryingly, open the door for the City Council to tamper with businesses' licenses based purely on the political pressure of neighbors, rather than equal treatment under the law.

Simply put, this legislation will make Minneapolis a less attractive place to live or do business.


I am a local resident in Lowry Hill East, and I live across the street from a bar with a patio. For opponents of this ordinance, it's not that we think bars should be blasting 120dB jams until 2 in the morning. But reports say that noise levels, as measured by city officials, at various establishments are generally in line with regulations. The record shows surprisingly few noise complaints, and even fewer citations, for a problem that's supposedly ruining the neighborhood.

The problem is that instead of going after problem properties with existing ordinances, we have a proposal that creates new rules and gives the city council more power to arbitrarily alter business operations throughout the entire city (minus downtown). We don't even know how much of the problem is in fact bar patios -- in addition to the facts about noise levels and complaints above, quite a few folks on this site speculate that patios are being unfairly blamed in some cases for noise coming from house parties.

And while people should certainly have respect for the locals, a city council power grab and excessive patio restrictions won't do anything to help. People will still drink, hang out, and cause trouble whether or not there's a patio. Let's not forget too that many of these people ARE "locals" -- it's been very strange to hear some supporters of Meg's proposal talk as if nobody in Uptown-area neighborhoods is a young person who goes to bars.

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