Balboa Island’s iconic Village Inn will soon welcome diners to a new outdoor patio seating area thanks to a yes vote at the Newport Beach City Council meeting this week.
The outdoor seating issue drew a large crowd of both supporters and detractors.
Last November, the city’s Planning Commission approved the Village Inn’s 16-seat, 200-square-foot seating area that would be built out onto the public sidewalk on Marine Avenue.
Balboa Island resident Mike Sullivan appealed the Commission’s decision on Nov. 17, citing the outdoor seating area’s proximity to residences, among other issues.
The restaurant, located at the corner of Park and Marine Avenues on the island, hosts live music acts six days a week. The music gets loud, alleged Sullivan, who told Council that they have a right to “peace and quiet of residents in our homes.”
Day time noise can be a nuisance too, Sullivan claimed, stating that when the windows and doors of the Village Inn are open and football games are on televisions, “it’s like an open-air sports bar.”
Several other Balboa Island residents and business owners backed Sullivan, sitting behind him on the right-facing side of the chambers.
The Village Inn’s operator, Dan Miller, was joined by dozens of enthusiastic supporters, many holding up green signs that read “Yes on Village Inn” on the left-facing side of council chambers.
In a Jan. 23 Facebook post, Miller reached out for patrons to join him at the Tuesday meeting in support of the restaurant.
Speaking on behalf of Miller was Carol McDermott, who noted that police calls for noise complaints had dropped sharply from 2015 to 2016 when the restaurant installed noise-limited facilities, and that they had gone out of their way to mollify nearby residents, even firing bands that did not follow their volume rules.
Once both sides made their case to the council, Councilman Scott Peotter revealed that he had conceived a compromise he hoped would satisfy both sides of the issue.
He proposed that the majority of the outdoor seating be built on the Park Avenue side of the restaurant, with only a small section on the Marine Avenue corner. Noise from this area would flow toward the fire station only, he asserted.
A compromise was also met on music volumes, along with a requirement that live bands have only four musicians and end their live programs at 10 p.m. on school nights corresponding with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District calendar.
“You cannot believe how much it penetrates walls and get right into my kids’ bedrooms,” said Sullivan of electronic bass sounds from the restaurant at night.
“If the bass is controlled, we are happy,” Sullivan said.
Both the restaurant and the nearby residents’ representative agreed to the compromise and Council approved the item as amended that night, 6-0. Councilman Jeff Herdman, whose district includes Balboa Island and is a resident of the Island, recused himself.
“I feel comfortable with what we’ve come to meet,” Miller said during the meeting.
Councilman Brad Avery said he was thrilled with the outcome.
“It’s been a huge effort on everyone’s part,” he said, commending city staff that worked long hours on the compromise.
“I’d like to compliment Councilman Peotter on bringing these two forces together,” councilwoman Diane Dixon remarked. “I look forward to seeing the final plans.”
Staff will present the final drawings and requirements of the approval at the next meeting. Still to be determined is relocation of the bike racks next to the Village Inn, which will be placed elsewhere on Marine Avenue.
Herdman was delighted with the end result and everyone’s flexibility.
“A very positive outcome. Local government at work!” he exclaimed.
Public hearing on the Village Inn outdoor seating issue is closed, but it will be brought back to City Council on the consent calendar at the Feb.14 meeting.
Earlier in the meeting, Council voted to table the Library Board of Trustee’s request for an exception to Council Policy A-5, which would allow them to fundraise alongside the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation. Though a plan for a proposed lecture auditorium on the main branch site has not been solidified, members of the board sought to get the ball rolling.
Council members agreed that the issue should be brought back when more information could be presented to them.
“It’s a premature idea,” said councilman Will O’Neill.
Funding of the Corona del Mar branch of the library, which was scheduled out to go out for a second bid after the holidays, was not mentioned during the meeting. At the City Council Planning Session on Jan. 14, it was announced that the city did not go out for a second bid, thus delaying upgrades on the aging structure and its attached fire station.