Breweries and restaurants in downtown Vista now are allowed to have amplified music outdoors.
“I think we have consensus that we all want to party in Vista,” Councilmember Joe Green said during a City Council meeting held earlier this month.
A city ordinance from 2014 allows live amplified music only indoors and with windows closed because of noise concerns. Business owners in the historic downtown district and Paseo Santa Fe corridor have made numerous requests to amend the law.
The council was set to discuss a proposed change at the Nov. 9 meeting, but it became clear that all members agreed the restriction should be loosened.
Councilmember John Franklin suggested the city not wait for an amendment to be drafted, but instead adopt a 60-day moratorium on enforcement, allowing establishments that already have permits for live entertainment to open their windows or move performers outdoors. The council unanimously embraced the idea.
City staff members will return next month with a proposed amendment to the noise restriction, which will include limits on how loud the entertainment can be and enforcement actions against violators.
The historic downtown district and Paseo Santa Fe corridor are designated arts and culture districts in the downtown specific plan in part because of the number of craft breweries and specialty restaurants in the area, a staff report notes.
Many buildings have been remodeled with roll-up windows and doors to connect to the outdoors, and many have outdoor seating. They include Belching Beaver Brewery on East Broadway and Barrel & Stave Pour House on Main Street. Coomber Craft Wines is expected to open soon on Main Street street, and the winery’s Oceanside location already features live music.
The areas also are surrounded by residential neighborhoods that were built before the businesses, and some are only 190 feet away.
The city staff recommendation calls for limiting outdoor entertainment to patios from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
“This is a long time coming, and I want to be able to have more fun downtown,” Councilmember Corinna Contreras said, adding that she loves Guadalupe Brewery Tap House on South Santa Fe Avenue. “I’m 33 years old and I want to be able to hear more live music downtown.”
Council members agreed there should be some limit on how loud amplified entertainment should be, and staff members will return with proposals about decibel levels Dec. 14.
“There clearly should be an enforcement mechanism, but there also has to be a fun mechanism,” Green said. “I love having fun. It’s my thing. My jaws hurt from smiling every day.”
Green, 43, said he has lived his entire life in Vista and remembers when the only fun he could have as a child was jumping off of downtown buildings onto a mattress. The city has changed and there are many more opportunities for fun.
Steve Thomas, co-owner of Barrel & Stave Pour House, said he had featured live music at his establishment on Thursdays and Sundays before he learned about the ordinance about eight weeks ago. He stopped the performances following a complaint from another business but began collecting signatures on a petition asking for the ordinance to be changed. About 500 people signed the petition.
“If you put a band inside, you’d break people’s eardrums,” he said. “That ordinance made no logical sense. When I started working with city staff and council, everyone agreed. No one was defending this silly ordinance.”
Thomas said he found staff and council members very supportive, and he hopes to begin booking live music again.
A week after being allowed to book bands, however, Thomas said he still hasn’t had anyone play on the patio because all performers in the area already are booked.
Live music will return to Barrel & Stave Pour House on Nov. 28, when Aaron Nicholls will perform from 4 to 7 p.m., he said.