Amplified music versus quality of life
At its next meeting on May 12, the Sonoma Planning Commission will consider revising the city's noise ordinance to increase the allowable level of noise produced by live music venues. Allow me to clarify how this could impact everyone in Sonoma.
At the July 8, 2010, meeting, the planning commissioners agreed that offering live music brings increased revenues to establishments. I fear granting licenses for live music at an increased volume means more and more businesses will ask for such licenses and that this will only escalate, adversely impacting not only the quality of life for residents of Sonoma but resulting in decreased property values for anyone near such an establishment.
The Noise Assessment Guide in the City of Sonoma General Plan states, "The objective is to insure that the community's ambient noise level is not degraded and existing and future residents can enjoy the relative quiet that characterizes Sonoma."
Thus far the Planning Commission, first in granting in 2009 the music permit to 691 Broadway, and now in granting at its March 2011 meeting a permit for outside amplified live music at that address, has chosen to ignore what I feel are clear provisions in the city's General Plan that were written to protect residents from such intrusive noise. With regard to the "Broadway Corridor," the city General Plan specifies that development in the Broadway Corridor should fit in with the residential character of the neighborhood. The plan was created in an extensive series of public study sessions and Planning Commission and City of Council meetings, to develop a consensus of what residents wanted in Sonoma.
It bothers me a lot that the commission could so significantly change such an important provision, contrary to what is there in black and white in the General Plan. If the plan is to be modified, I think there should be public hearings. The General Plan is on the City of Sonoma website for all to read.
The Planning Commission granted a permit for live amplified music outdoors to HopMonk Tavern over vigorous protests by the neighbors in the Broadway Corridor area. Under the terms of the City Plan, "prohibited uses" in the Broadway Corridor are "any bar which provides live entertainment in conjunction with alcoholic beverage sales and includes taverns."
The Planning Commission clearly ignored this part of the Plan.
On April 3, HopMonk Tavern had its first amplified music outdoors, and I can assure you that the ambient noise level was degraded.
If you hope to maintain the quiet of your neighborhood, I urge you to come to the meeting, or write the Planning Commission, and let your wishes be known.
• • •
Kassandra Miller is a resident of Sonoma in the neighborhood adjacent to HopMonk Tavern.