VISTA — The Vista City Council on Dec. 14 unanimously adopted an ordinance that will greatly expand the ability of local businesses to host live music and performances at their venues.
While previously, live entertainment was only permitted in the city’s Industrial Park in semi-outdoor settings, the council amended the municipal code to extend permissions for live performances in historic downtown and Paseo Santa Fe districts, along with venues in the new Vista Village area, both in semi-outdoor and fully outdoor settings.
The new ordinance specifies that only businesses with patio areas approved by the city planning department will be cleared for hosting live entertainment outdoors.
“I’m really excited about what this means not only for entertainment but for making sure that we have a robust economy in our downtown, and live entertainment is crucial to that,” said Councilwoman Corinna Contreras. “Vista is known as a climactic wonderland so having outdoor and semi-outdoor entertainment is a natural fit and it was a long time coming.”Ord15
The city’s previous ordinance governing live entertainment had not been updated since the late 1990s, and failed to establish meaningful guidelines for businesses in areas outside of Industrial Park, Conteras said.
Owners of bars, restaurants, breweries and other venues downtown, even those with large outdoor patios, had to ensure that live music was kept strictly indoors.
“The previous ordinance on the books didn’t really allow for the type of entertainment environment that’s standard, you had businesses running into code violations and all that stuff, so we really wanted to make it easier for our businesses to thrive,” Conteras said.
Under the new guidelines, establishments in the newly expanded zones can host entertainment between the hours of 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, between 5-10 p.m. on Fridays, noon and 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
With businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic petitioning the city council for more flexible guidelines and with the city already looking for ways to invest and strengthen the downtown economy, the councilwoman said that the code amendment came at the right time.
“We’re updating our downtown area, we’re really putting a lot of investment into it being a destination not just for Vistans but for others as well…if we’re not providing an environment where that ecosystem of entertainment can thrive, we’re really hindering our businesses,” Contreras said.
A number of local business owners and community members spoke out in favor of the proposed code change at the December 14 meeting, including Steve Thomas, owner of Barrel and Stave Pourhouse, and Will Burtner, manager of Oceanside’s Coomber Wines.
Burtner expressed that from the perspective of a business like his own that seeks to bring in customers looking for nightlife options, being able to offer live entertainment can be a huge source of revenue and growth.
“At [the Oceanside location] we offer live music six nights a week and comedy night one day a week, and that helps provide an environment that’s attractive and keeps people entertained…if we didn’t have live music that takes away about 50% of the things that we can do — we’d probably sell our building if we couldn’t have live music,” Burtner said.
Due to the council’s decision, Burtner said Coomber Wines will be opening a new location in a couple of months at 344 Main Street in Vista, where they will serve craft wines and offer live entertainment.
In addition to being an immense benefit to the downtown businesses and residents, the new entertainment guidelines will also be a huge boost to bands and solo artists trying to make it locally, Contreras said.
“One side of this coin is those providing the entertainment,” Contreras said. “They need to be connected to opportunities locally where they don’t have to go out so far, so this is going to provide an opportunity for businesses to connect with local talent so that they can synergize and highlight each other. On the flip side, you get fans from that local band and maybe they’ve never been to one of these venues and they go just because that band is playing…so you can have kind of a magnification of dollars by connecting local talent to businesses, and that way both can be prosperous.”
The new law stipulates that outdoor music at approved venues cannot exceed a volume of 75 decibels (dba) when measured at the property line. The city will enforce a progressive complaint strategy when dealing with businesses in violation of the ordinance.
After the third complaint, the city will suspend a venue’s live entertainment permit, with a fourth violation resulting in a three-month suspension and a fifth violation leading to a six-month suspension.