Around Town | October 21, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 21, 2011

Around Town

UNPLUGGED ... When Palo Alto's leading developers and city officials unveiled the new Lytton Plaza in downtown Palo Alto two years ago, they envisioned a bustling neighborhood hub with farmers markets, concerts and community events. Not everything, however, has panned out as planned. The city's Farmers Market fizzled because of lack of demand, and the concerts that accompanied the weekly markets ceased to exist. Now, city officials are confronting another problem: People are using the new electrical outlets, which were installed as part of the renovation, to play amplified music at all hours of the day and, occasionally, late at night. The city's Community Services and Police departments have been receiving complaints from businesses around the prominent plaza, according to a new report from Daren Anderson, division manager for Open Space, Parks and Golf. Attempts to talk to musicians weren't always successful. "In some cases there has been cooperation, but not enough to adequately address the problem," Anderson wrote. Staff tried to address the problem by locking the outlet covers, but this strategy was reportedly foiled by vandals. Furthermore, Palo Alto's attempts to enforce the existing ordinance, which bans electrical devices in parks without permits, also fell short as several musicians brought battery-powered amplifiers. Now, staff is proposing a new rule that would ban amplified music at Lytton Plaza without a special permit. Even with permission, operation of amplifiers would be limited to between 5 and 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The city wrote up the ordinance after discussions with Russ Cohen, president of the Downtown Business and Professional Association, who consulted businesses around the plaza. Acoustic music, meanwhile, would still be welcomed at the plaza without any permits. "Staff believes that prohibiting amplified sound without a permit will be a useful tool in reducing noise complaints and will help keep the park and surrounding area enjoyable for everyone," Anderson wrote. The city's Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss the proposed ordinance Tuesday evening.

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