metroactive
News, music, movies & restaurants from the editors of the Silicon Valley's #1 weekly newspaper.
Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont & nearby cities.

Columns
December 7-14, 2005

home | metro santa cruz index | columns | santa cruz news


Phaedra

Photograph by Nadine Kelley
Please, No Dancing: Hot Club Pacific gets down at Hoffman's Bakery.


Nūz

Incidental Noise

Santa Cruz's noise ordinances, at least the ones governing live music, have been a long-running joke in the arts and entertainment community. But the punch line actually wasn't that funny for small businesses, which often had to go through the same expensive and time-consuming permitting process as large entertainment venues like the CATALYST.

Under the old rules, even a small restaurant like SOIF or HOFFMAN'S had to pay upward of $1,000 in fees, hold a public hearing and also justify why they wouldn't be needing a security guard to oversee the jazz pianist (or combo) in the corner.

All of which explains why Santa Cruz City Council member RYAN COONERTY has been interested in the issue even before he was elected. And then there's the fact that while he was walking precincts, he happened upon the door of SANTA CRUZ JAZZ SOCIETY head STEVE NEWMAN, who immediately advocated for musicians just looking to play in cafes and restaurants.

With the help of SANTA CRUZ ARTS COMMISSIONER LINDA BIXBY, Coonerty and Newman worked with the Planning Department to figure out an appropriate fix. Last month, the City Council adopted an ordinance that goes into effect Dec. 22 and amends Title 24 (Zoning) of the municipal code, simplifying the permitting process by exempting businesses where live entertainment is considered "incidental."

So, just what does the ordinance consider "incidental?" "Basically an indoor stage or performance area that does not exceed 80 square feet, and where customer dancing does not occur," says City Planner ALEX KHOURY.

Practically speaking, this means the Planning Department will sign off on a plan with music aspirations meeting the size and nondancing parameters, while the Santa Cruz Police Department will then process an expedited, no-fee entertainment permit.

The music can even be amplified, which you might think opens the door to any old small business inviting GWAR to set up a 10,000-watt sound system in the corner of a wine bar, as long as their stage is small and there's no dancing, but you'd be mostly wrong.

Why? Because the ordinance includes the qualifier of a use "determined by zoning administrator as not impacting adjacent properties."

Meaning that complaints from the neighbors can still trigger additional review in cases where the music is beyond "incidental" status. Incidentally, Nüz has yet to hear any complaints from jazz musicians, who must now suffer this peculiar, yet official descriptor for their work.

Survey Says

'Tis also the season when the survey numbers roll in, both for the COMMUNITY ASSESSMENT PROJECT and the COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF SANTA CRUZ COUNTY's second NONPROFIT LANDSCAPE STUDY, both of which reveal interesting trends in the overall health of the community (the CAP measures economic, health, education and public safety indices) and the health of the nonprofit sector.

Shocking factoid of the year? According to the CAP report, almost 40 percent of residents surveyed reported that they were better off economically in 2005—a gain of 12 percent since 2003. Whatever it is they're smoking, Nüz wants some too.

Speaking of which, the CAP also reports higher drug and alcohol use for Santa Cruz County ninth and 11th graders than the average statewide levels. Education markers are still looking pretty dismal, with only 31 percent of third graders "proficient or above" in English. Another eye-popping stat is the number of students with autism, which increased by 97 percent between 2000 and 2004. Kids are also fatter. In 2003, 24 percent of children ages 5-20 were overweight, which is actually not surprising given that 51 percent of the adults they see around them were also either overweight, or downright obese. (Maybe it's time for a nonprofit weight loss center?)

Over at the Nonprofit Landscape Study, the shocker is that the nonprofit sector continues to grow, despite a burst dotcom bubble and a shrinking funding pool. Or how about the stunning fact that the total dollars nonprofits contribute to the economy is a staggering $600 million?

With nonprofit services in extra high demand in the cold winter months, Community Foundation program director Christina Cuevas urges people to volunteer—and visit www.cfscc.org to view a copy of the nonprofit landscape report.

Weariful of Celibate Poorness

It all began during our most recent visit to The Hermit, which is what we call one of our acquaintances who spends most of his time, home and alone, tracking the news and surfing the web for, well, juicy little sites like anagramgenius.com, where he discovered that the anagram for Public Relations is "crap built on lies." We kid you not.

This latter discovery doubtless explains why the Hermit says "PR Man" whenever he refers to PETER FEAVER, the National Security Council special adviser who believes that if President George W. Bush just keeps saying the word "victory" enough times, Americans will support a war with mounting casualties. [Assuming, of course, that Americans get distracted from the central fact that the case for this war was built on lies—an assumption that isn't at all far-fetched, given that distraction seems to be the point of all White House PR, ever since they came up with the "weapons of mass destruction" red herring, which, by the way is the anagram for "coward of impotent assassin."]

Asked by the Hermit if we had anything worth anagramming, Nüz blurted a "powerful coterie of lesbians," since this is the infamous phrase that got its author, Sentinel Managing Editor Don Miller, writing about stoning and getting stoned, and got Nüz obsessed with establishing whether "coterie" has a negative or positive connotation, or perhaps both. Initially we assumed the word hadn't shifted much from its old French root, which meant "an organization of peasants holding land from a feudal lord."

But a casual mention of "a coterie of prairie dogs" on the DISCOVERY CHANNEL over the Thanksgiving weekend jerked us out of our turkey and stuffing-induced haze and into "a coterie of" GOOGLE search, which revealed that neoconnish staffers, well-connected Russian bankers, Christians, sycophants, orchids, infidels and skeptics, along with wealthy liberals, A-list stars, aging troops, White House and Pentagon aides, university professors, nameless interns, grassroots lobbying groups and Silicon Valley venture capitalists all hang out in coteries.

All of which is probably unrelated to the fact that when anagramgenius.com crunched "powerful coterie of lesbians," it spat out "ace troubleproof wifeliness, "a sleepier neurotics blow off" and "weariful of celibate poorness," as three possible options. Or that managing editor Don Miller is either a "Demolition grand maligner," while the "Santa Cruz Sentinel" is "Cretin's Annual Zest" or "Stun Nets Carnalize."


Send a letter to the editor about this story.