News Pensacola Politics

Sidewalk Rules: DIB’s Version Recommended

September 19, 2012

Taking a look at proposed regulations governing outdoor cafes, the Pensacola Planning Board decided yesterday to embrace changes suggested by the Downtown Improvement Board. Most notably, the planning board rejected a suggestion by city staff to ban live and recorded amplified music in the sidewalk seating areas.

Several members of the downtown business community, as well as a member of the DIB committee who offered up the changes, were present at the planning board meeting. They urged the city to allow for outdoor music that was also compatible with a mixed-use district that included residents.

The list of regulations the city is hammering out pertain to business’s License to Use permits, which allow for them to take advantage of the right of way, the sidewalk, for additional seating. Officials have cited downtown growth as the catalyst for the new regulations.

“We’re not unique,” outgoing DIB Chairman Franklin Kimbrough told the planning board. “Other communities have figured out how to do this.”

Earlier this year, the city’s planning department drafted proposed regulations that govern outdoor cafe’s hours and noise output, as well as matters such as American Disability Act standards. The regulations also establish fees and outline maintenance specifics associated with LTUs.

In addition to striking a portion of the rules that banned amplified music, the DIB also took issue with the city’s position that a six-foot walkable area should exist on the sidewalks. The downtown board recommended sticking with the four-foot state and federal ADA standards.

Members of the business community present at the planning board meeting said they were also concerned about a regulation that stated the city could rescind a business’s LTU without cause. They preferred that the wording be changed to ‘with cause.’

“It looks like another Big Brother-statement: ‘Even if you follow our rules we can still come down and say, you know what, thanks for playing but no thanks,’” said Joe Abston, owner of Hopjacks and Tin Cow.

Attendees also told the board that it should be specified what entity—code enforcement or the police—would be responsible for enforcing the new regulations. The planning department’s draft had left enforcement up to the “city.”

“I know it’s easy to say ‘the city,’ but man, when there’s a problem it’s really difficult to find ‘the city,’” said Kimbrough. “We can find lots of departments where it’s not their job, but it’s really difficult to find ‘the city.’”

Now that the planning board has signed off on the DIB’s version of staff’s proposed regulations, the LTU proposals will make their way to the Pensacola City Council. The council will most likely take a look at the regulations during October.

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  • No way September 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    New Jersey Nick will never go for that – the bikers need direct access to his joint

  • downtown don September 20, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Heck, just close Palafox off between Garden and Main and make it pedestrian traffic only all the time. We can go with a “Bourbon Street” atmosphere, increase foot patrols by law enforcement, turn the surrounding neighborhoods into a mini “French Quarter” with art and unique shops, and invite folks to come down and spend their money. Debra Dunlap can sell her precious real estate to the highest bidder and the rest of us can rock on.

  • citizen September 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I think that the police Officers have more to worry with other than Noise Complaints. I for one wouldn’t put it off on them. Make Code Enforcement work nights for a change. Let the Police protect and Serve for a change and stop taking up their time with these type of calls. I would be hard pressed to accept the excuse that I couldn’t have an Officer respond to my burglary because they were dealing with a loud music complaint. Just my opinion.

  • dot September 19, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    4 ft is all well and good if it is maintained as a clear path, but usually they will put the tables/chairs 4ft apart without taking into account that people pull the chairs out and sit in them. no more 4 ft clear path…or accessibility. if the businesses will police themselves/customers to keep the path clear, then the more the merrier!

  • Ez money September 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Please give me a job in the planning department – looks like volunteer Boards and DIB staff does all of their heavy lifting. Sweet gig.

  • bike week September 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    now that Kimbrough is leaving are we going to put Abston and New Jersey Nick in charge?

  • Lindsay Myers September 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I love having music piped to sidewalk but when I walked down Palafox Monday night the football game could literally be heard down the entire block and I think it was coming from just one source- not cool!

  • Leroy Carter September 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Just as a point of fact. The PPD would have to enforce the regulations. Code Enforcement works Monday to Friday 8 to 5. Most infractions would occue at night or on weekends.