Local restaurant denied later patio hours

The owner of 3-Thirty-3 Waterfront restaurant said he will appeal the Newport Beach Planning Commission's denial of his business's request to extend evening patio hours.

"We have so many people in the city who want to have this quiet place for dining on the water that having to close at 9:30 (p.m.) is unacceptable," owner Jeff Reuter said Friday.

On Thursday, the commission turned down the restaurant's application to extend its patio's daily hours from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.

City planning commissioners expressed concern that the later hours would increase the volume of nighttime noise from the restaurant, according city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan.

"We were pleased that the commission listened to the arguments that we had," said Donald McCalla, who has lived in his Linda Isle home for more than two decades.

His home faces the restaurant, about 200 feet away across the water, and takes the brunt of the noise caused by the late-night crowd that fills the patio past the allowed hours, he said.

"The big issue is noise," McCalla said. "Our argument to the owner is, 'Look, if you will attenuate that [patio] as well as your existing building, the problem will cease. You will no longer hear from us.' That building is probably one of the most well-attenuated buildings in the city. We do not hear what goes on inside that building."

Three homes on Linda Isle face 3-Thirty-3, with the other affected homes facing Bayside Drive currently not occupied, said Linda Isle Homeowner's Assn. President Donna Viana, who lives on the island down the street from those homes.

"You're going to have some people outside making noise, yes, that's going to happen," Viana said. "But this is inside and those windows remain open past the time they are supposed to be closed and directly face the bedrooms of the people on the island."

When plans for the patio were approved in 2007, Reuter, the city and Linda Isle residents agreed to a compromise, which stated that the patio had to be built with sound attenuation devices and time constraints. The patio was opened early 2010.

"A deal is a deal," Viana said.

McCalla said that he reported almost 20 noise disturbances after 9:30 p.m. caused by 3-Thirty-3 patrons from March 2010 to September 2010, he said.

However, Reuter said, the noise is caused by foot-traffic in the restaurant's parking lot.

"The patio is not the problem, it's the idiots that come out of any restaurant and start yelling at their friends," Reuter said. "That's the noise that the neighbors hear. We needed to do a better job policing our parking lot, which we are going to do, and that's why we hired doormen. We're not a club; we don't charge to get in."

After agreeing to the compromise in 2007, Reuter quickly realized that it was a "mistake," he said.

"It doesn't get dark until 9 p.m., people are just coming out to dinner, and I have to tell them they can't sit out there," Reuter said. "They look at me like that they can't believe that's possible when all they want is place to watch the sunset on the water."

The loudest noise on the patio is the indoor waterfall or the fireplace, he said.

But Linda Isle residents dispute that claim, saying that the patrons on the patio are there for drinks, not food and cause noise after patio hours should be over.

"There is no fine dining going on out there after 9:30 p.m.," Viana said. "It's a party place. They don't call it a club, but that's what it is."

Reuter plans to appeal the Planning Commission decision, but he also plans to send a letter to island homeowners proposing a compromise, he said.

"We just want to be good neighbors," Reuter said. "We're here for the long run."

McCalla, who received the letter late Friday afternoon, said the letter proposed later patio hours to around 11:30 pm and added that neighbors would have to meet and talk about it.

"We'd prefer not to go that late, but maybe some sort of compromise will be able to be reached," McCalla said. "We'll see."

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