Even on the weekends, downtown Pleasanton can seem pretty deserted at night. Up until now, the city gave individual permits to businesses that wanted to stay open past 10 p.m. Business owners are thrilled with Tuesday night’s council vote to expand hours until 11 p.m. and allow increased noise levels, all in an effort to make the downtown area a more attractive, vibrant place for night life.
Joe Barone, owner of one of the oldest downtown Pleasanton restaurants, called “Barone’s,” said that it’s been a struggle to keep a happy balance between catering to customers and to neighbors who live just down the street. “It’s a bedroom community. Obviously, there’s a happy balance. We want to keep happiness between neighbors and have peace.”
Some people who live nearby the downtown area fought against the decision to extend business hours and increase acceptable noise levels for the “Core” district, made up mostly of retail, restaurants, and bars along Main Street. Residents expressed concern about dropping property value and increased property damage, as well as possible violence from customers who drank a little too much.
Emil Oxsen, the third generation of his family to live in Pleasanton, lives on Peter Avenue just a few hundred yards from Barone’s. He described hearing intoxicated people outside his door. “You’ll get them out here arguing amongst each other.” Oxsen said he’s not as bothered by the noise and the disruption as his neighbors, but does get irritated by the litter he finds on his front lawn the next morning – from broken beer bottles to countless cigarette butts.
He may be finding a little more of those now, after the Pleasanton City Council passed new guidelines splitting the downtown area into two sections: “Core” and “Transition.” The latter refers to the businesses that may be on streets parallel to Main Street but closer to homes. Transition district businesses still face stricter rules. Core district businesses will now be allowed to open and serve alcohol until 11 p.m. without having to go through the current individualized permitting process. They will also allow live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
Nelson Fialho, Pleasanton city manager, said it took a committee of eleven people several months to come up with a plan that would please and appease both residents and business owners. “It’s not a perfect science. You don’t satisfy everybody, but I think the proposal ultimately approved by the city council is a good compromise."
For owner of Pasta’s Trattoria on Main Street, Rick Ring, it means appealing to more of the available customers in the area. “We are surrounded by great corporate business: Safeway headquarters, Oracle, so forth,” said Ring. “So if we don’t have more restaurants open late at night, we may not be the right draw.” Barone added, “They’re going to Livermore. They’re going to Walnut Creek, where there’s a lot more activity at night time, so I think they want to get that feeling here in Pleasanton.”
Fialho concluded that the city is prepared to change the plan if needed, already requesting an annual report to update the community on whether the new guidelines worked, and what, if anything, needs to be changed.