Monterey City Council Restricts Live Music at Mucky Duck
December 7, 2011
The Mucky Duck's getting plucked by the city of Monterey again.
The Monterey City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to restrict outdoor entertainment at The Mucky Duck, reversing decisions made by the Planning Commission and fueling speculation as to whether new owners Alex and Anthony Buich will abandon ship.
The council cut back the number of nights per year the Duck could have live music on the outdoor patio until midnight from 10 to four, and pushed back the end time for weeknight outdoor music from 10pm to 9pm.
Mayor Chuck Della Sala was the lone dissenting vote, saying he wanted more drastic cutbacks on live music to maintain the quality of life downtown. He also suggested restricting the hours of all bars downtown and exploring a city-wide ordinance restricting live outdoor music at restaurants and bars. "We need to look long-term on this," he said.
The changes may seem small, but Anthony Buich said cutbacks on live music would devastate his business. "Taking away live music would be a death sentence for us," said a fired-up Anthony Buich at the council meeting. "We don’t want to leave [Monterey], but we won’t have a choice if we can’t afford to be here."
After the Planning Commission Oct. 25 eased some restrictions the city had placed on patio entertainment and operating hours, City Manager Fred Meurer appealed the decision less than two weeks later.
"The Planning Commission compromised the City's efforts to improve the character of the Downtown," Meurer wrote in his appeal, specifically citing the Commission's relaxation of patio rules. Noise was Meurer's stated concern—he says the Duck's live music could deter planned and future housing developments downtown—but safety concerns in the wake of the Jan. 1 shooting outside the bar also loomed large.
"We hate waking up to news...of three people being shot," Meurer said at the Council meeting.
That riled the Buich brothers, who say they've gone out of their way to raise the bar on food and lower the tolerance for drunk and disorderlies since they took over from father-son team John and Eric Waddell in June. They think having patio entertainment until 10pm nightly and allowing patrons to dance on said patio is not much to ask—especially since they've had no major police incidents in their six-month stint as owners.
A number of residents and Alvarado Street property owners spoke out against what they feel is the noise and nuisance of the Duck's live music. "That music is coming from two neighborhoods away, and it's keeping my neighbors awake," said Alta Mesa neighborhood president Mike Dawson. "Amplified music outdoors at night concerns me," said Doug Wiele, the El Dorado Hills-based developer who has plans for a housing-driven development down the street from the Mucky Duck.
But others implored the city to consider the vibrancy the Buich brothers have brought to a long-maligned location. "Please keep our generation in mind," said 31-year-old Sarah Nelson of New Monterey.
Meurer's appeal claimed the Duck's new hours and outdoor entertainment jeopardize the city's efforts to revitalize downtown, but the Buich brothers claimed they were trying to bring new life to Alvarado. "If you take live entertainment away, you’re going to have another boarded-up building on Alvarado for years," Anthony Buich warned. Added Aptos resident and Sierra Nevada sales rep Quinn Gardner, "We’re talking about restricting revenue. Instead of welcoming people to Monterey, we’re talking about scaring them off."