The City Council approved a valet parking plan for Nicky Rottens Tuesday, with conditions that allow the owners to utilize space that has been left vacant in the restaurant for months.
The vote was 3-2*, with Mayor Casey Tanaka and Councilwoman Barbara Denny in the minority.
The marathon six-hour meeting was heavily attended, with every seat in the council chamber taken, but it lacked , which included .
Associate Planner Peter Fait had warned people to expect “a long, tough meeting.” But those in the council chambers kept their emotions in check.
The council did take note of the passions the restaurant had unleashed on both sides.
“A great deal being said about people, I’m offended by,” Councilwoman Carrie Downey said. “Some of it is actionable.” To underscore her point Downey, an attorney, read the legal definition of libel and slander into the record.
She was particularly offended by the video, which showed an argument between Nicky Rottens' owners and a resident who opposes the restaurant, Tom Wucherer.
The incident followed . There were plans to air the video during the public comment period before the vote on the parking proposal, but Downey and a colleague took a stand.
“I will recuse myself. I don’t think it's appropriate. I disagree profoundly,” Downey said.
“I also have seen the same video and I will be doing the same thing,” Councilman Al Ovrom said
Neither had to leave. At the request of the police department, Tanaka said, it was not shown.
About a dozen people spoke, most of them opponents of the restaurant, but as Tanaka pointed out, all were people .
Parking – the plan to allow Nicky Rottens' patrons to leave their cars in a nearby hardware store lot – was not the only issue on the agenda regarding the establishment.
The eatery, along with other restaurants on Orange Avenue off 1st Street, had been granted temporary clearance for outdoor seating; the permits were up for renewal.
The city recommended extending the permits until a downtown design project is complete. The council agreed unanimously.
Most of the complaints against Nicky Rottens focused on noise.
“They’re rockin’ and rollin’, they're yelling, they're yelping. Let’s face it. They've turned (the corner) into nightclub alley,” said a resident, Brian Stewart.
Other opponents said the restaurant had marred the neighborhood and expressed fears for their safety and for their children.
Police reports tell a different story. Since 2000, the police have been called to the block for crimes ranging from prostitution and drug dealing to battery and petty theft.
In the four months Nicky has been open, police have been called four times. All of the complaints involved noise.
Still, the council promised to keep a close eye on the restaurant. It made a periodic review of police calls a condition of Nicky Rottens' permit. Downey also said people could e-mail her with complaints and she would respond to them no matter what time of night.
* An updated version of this article includes the correct vote; the vote was misreported due to an editing error.