Feedback on Outdoor Dining in Downtown, PUPS

Dear members of the Raleigh City Council,

I want to write to you today with some concerns about the proposed change in hours for outdoor dining in downtown Raleigh. In my opinion, closing down outdoor dining areas earlier will reduce the noise levels a negligible amount to be useful at the expense of economic vitality in our city’s core. There are also other contributors to noise that I feel were not mentioned during the Law and Public Safety meetings on this issue.

What I see missing are the proper metrics that balance noise levels and resident acceptance. How many hours less does it take to get the desired noise levels? What metrics are being used here? I would like the council to discuss this because cutting an hour or two off outdoor dining may reduce noise but not to a level that satisfies the source of the complaints. If reduced hours of operation on outdoor dining must take place, please implement a 6-month trial period here. The trial period could test this rather than putting in place unnecessary restrictions that benefit no one and only restrict local businesses.

From my point of view, noise is the problem trying to be solved and outdoor dining has been pinned as the source of this noise late at night. Due to the thriving nightlife we have, a few others contribute to the noise pollution in downtown also that are not being talked about. Vehicle traffic, food carts, and amplified music are other elements that add to the hum of downtown’s nightlife yet no restrictions on them are being proposed.

From a resident point of view, vehicle traffic, including motorcycles with loud exhausts, trolleypubs with woohing riders, and cars that are all about that bass, have been another noise-related pain point. These contributors only raise the noise level of conversation from outdoor patrons. Food carts with generators and amplified music add to it as well. The relative noise level from outdoor dining is a product of the surrounding environment and this has not been discussed.

An alternative view could be to look at removing noise contributors first before harming local business. Please take a look to see if removing all outdoor amplified noise would help. Please consider closing down certain blocks of Glenwood Avenue and Fayetteville Street every Fri/Sat night, removing vehicles that contribute to the noise. Please work with food carts to provide electrical plug access rather than run loud generators.

After this discussion has taken place and possibly attempted on a 6-month trial basis should we start to talk about limiting the local businesses themselves.

Thank you for taking the time to think about my feedback.

Leo Suarez
208 Freeman Street

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  1. There is a constant stream of cars blaring music and motorcycles with illegally loud engines that are in violation of the same noise ordinance decibel levels that nightclubs must abide by, yet are hardly ever enforced. Focusing on crowd noise by restricting outside dining is addressing only a small part of the noise problem, and unfairly targets certain businesses.

  2. Leo,

    Well put! Reasonable, offering alternative sources and solutions, even ceding a trial period. A thoughtful approach. I hope these things are considered. It would do Raleigh’s urban growth no good to tamp down on the times when people actually do come downtown right now. You’ll just be pushing people to go to chain restaurants farther out, where nothing is multi-use, just so no one complains. It would be a real shame to further encourage that suburbanization, even in this relatively small way.


  3. In response to your arguments I feel they are well put however in my opinion counterproductive. In my opinion it is important to have districts in your downtown. Areas that are residentially driven and those that are commercially driven. While they will overlap from time to time Raleigh’s mistake in its expanding is blurring this line. Also people who complain about the noise make a choice to reside in an urban area where guess what there’s noise. Pople who live in Downtown manhattan dont complain about the noise its a tolerated reality. If it became untolerable they would move to a suburb. I fear raliegh will stunt its own growth by trying to become a quiet boring lively suburban urban city.

  4. Raleigh Public Record is reporting that Greg Hatem owns and is now demolishing 114 Fayetteville St (between Wells Fargo and the former Isaac Hunters). Any idea what is going up there? Hopefully not outside seating… ;-)

  5. Jeff, I doubt anyone would demolish that building. Probably some renovations and maybe some extension that will not alter the structure that much. Yes, God forbid he puts any outside seating. Or maybe he will build a little public area where the patrons can go freely any time and vomit, urinate or fornicate. Just as long as they don’t bother the “neighborhood” :LOL:

  6. Is it true Hatem owns the empty lot next to circular Holiday Inn?
    If so, what is this guy waiting for, sell the lot to someone who will develop it (this lot is an eyesore and has been for 30 years)
    This is a great location for a building 30+ stories, office, apartments and retail.

  7. Like a lot of owners of empty lots/buildings throughout downtown, the owner is waiting for the right buyer/developer to come along. Btw, the lot next to the Holiday Inn is not approved as a parking lot, so anyone can park there.

  8. Actually, I am quite familiar with 114 Fayetteville as I used to live next door, 112. 114 is a wreck. It actually has no roof (the 1-story piece) for a part of it and if you take a look at the three-story section facing Fayetteville, you’ll see that it is in bad shape.

    Go ahead and zoom in here on this google maps view. You can see green things growing in it!,+Raleigh,+NC+27601/@35.7790893,-78.6396024,40m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x89ac5f6de0ff9ff3:0x4e5ec2d569150c52!6m1!1e1

    Demolishing it does not surprise me however there isn’t much room there to replace it. I would think both 112 and 114 are tied together so if one falls so will the other. I could be wrong though.

  9. I recall, many years ago, that the owner – it wasn’t Greg Hatem back then – wanted to build a 15-story building right there (112 and 114 Fayetteville Str). I also heard that he didn’t have the money to accomplish such thing, so I will let you decide what to believe.

    Personally, I like those two buildings and want to keep them, but Leo has a more complete view of how hard it will be to save them :( I don’t mind seeing a 15+ story building there, but I doubt it could happen. Maybe the exterior can be salvaged while the rest will be retrofitted.

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