Pam Marino here, thinking about how much I miss going out to see live music. As it turns out, my own town of Pacific Grove is the place to be to hear music outdoors downtown on Friday and Saturday evenings.
I wrote about P.G.’s new “scene” and growing popularity as a nighttime venue in a story about the future of parklets and outdoor dining on the Peninsula that ran in the Weekly’s April 2 print edition. That scene grew in part because owners of Wild Fish restaurant on Lighthouse Avenue, Liz and Kelvin Jacobs, invited a quartet of musicians to play in the evenings. They watched the popularity of their parklet and the parklets of surrounding restaurants grow thanks to the group dubbed the Lighthouse Jazz Quartet.
“I want you to know how incredibly thrilled people are to see us out there making music. It’s really heartwarming,” quartet musician Stu Reynolds, told the Pacific Grove City Council on April 7. “One night a woman was in tears because the music was so evocative for her. The joy it generates is palpable. People are hungry for it.”
Reynolds, the Jacobses and several others called in to the meeting that night out of concern that just as P.G. is experiencing a moment—and increased revenue—the music might be silenced. Some of them urged City Manager Ben Harvey to use his pandemic emergency powers to keep outdoor music alive in P.G.
Their concern arose after some killjoy called the city and reminded officials that live music on sidewalks is illegal per P.G. code, Harvey told me after the meeting. (The killjoy comment is mine, not his.)
On April 7, the council discussed at length how they could change the code and allow live music to continue on P.G.’s sidewalks, at least through the pandemic, as restaurants are trying to recover. The good news for restaurateurs is that all five councilmembers who were present that night (out of seven) were supportive of keeping music. (Councilmembers and Harvey were hesitant over the idea of the city manager using his emergency powers—there is a bit of backstory to that point—but they supported passing an ordinance.)
The reason five is an important number is that at tonight’s meeting, the P.G. council will discuss the possibility of passing an urgency ordinance regarding parklets and outdoor dining—including allowing music from 10am-10pm, seven days a week. To go into effect immediately the new ordinance would require a 5/7 vote. (If for some reason the council couldn’t get five votes, it would take four votes for a regular ordinance, which would then need a second reading on May 5, and then another 30 days to go into effect.)
I predict it will be a unanimous vote in favor of keeping parklets and live music, but it’ll be interesting to see if any Pagrovians turn up who want to negotiate down the hours or number of days that sidewalk music is allowed. You can watch for yourself, and participate, at 6pm. The meeting agenda, with instructions on how to log in, is here.
The code complaint that was called in earlier this month didn’t stop the music from happening. In fact, notes were drifting throughout downtown over last weekend. I asked Harvey about it. “If there was music going on last weekend it was technically not allowed,” he says.
But the music played on anyway—and it most likely will continue, legally.