Rock and roll, American Pie, and Chicken Little

Submitted by westward on Fri, 09/30/2011 - 21:18.
Is Cleveland doomed to become a city without music if legislation is updated that spells out the rules for bars, taverns and restaurants that want to add live music?


That is what the special interest people are saying to musicians. Musicians, and fans, are being fed the line that if this legislation were to pass as is, there would no longer be live performances in Cleveland.


American Pie or Chicken Little?


Keep Cleveland Rockin’ has been set up on Facebook  that has taken on the mission to defeat both this legislation and an admission tax. ran a story and an editorial that I find disingenuous (and my thoughts on that here).


I contacted Henry Senyak, one of the many residents that worked on crafting this proposed legislation. I requested, and received, copies of the actual proposals. I have copied them below, and will post the rest as comments.


Read them and then ask what the hell is going on here? Why all the fuss?


It seems that what started as a way to update old zoning laws and to protect the residents that have a right to live in peace, has been upstaged by special interests using the threat that Cleveland will lose its status as the rock and roll capitol. The musicians opposing the legislation need to ask themselves if they are being fed a slanted perspective on this? Also, they can ask themselves how they like to live in their own homes and yards?


The proposed legislation Summary:



Summary of Pending Ordinance, including amendments by City Planning Commission


Goal:  To permit restaurants and bars with entertainment and/or outdoor patios, along with nightclubs and concert halls and similar uses at appropriate locations,  in a manner that adds vibrancy and economic vitality to the city, while preventing nuisances and safeguarding the quality of life for residents in nearby neighborhood areas.


Conditional Uses

  • The new ordinance adds “Conditional Use” regulations to Cleveland’s zoning code
  • Allows fine-tuned, case-by-case approvals of potentially problematic uses by BZA
  • Allows BZA to add “conditions” to protect residents and other sensitive uses
  • Conditional Use Permits can be revoked if use fails to comply with conditions
  • Current code either “permits” or “prohibits” uses – with no middle ground and less opportunity for special conditions to be imposed


Restaurants & Bars with Entertainment

  • Entertainment permitted for restaurants and bars in Local Retail Districts only if music is acoustic or no louder than acoustic music
  • Entertainment with amplified music permitted in General Retail Districts, but only as Conditional Use if within 200 feet of residential district or use
  • Outdoor patios permitted only as Conditional Use if located within 200 feet of residential district or use.  Outdoor patios with music permitted only as Conditional Use if located within 1,000 feet of residential district or use.
  • No music permitted on outdoor patios after 11 p.m. unless BZA grants variance to as late as 1 a.m. if it is determined that  there will be no negative impact to residents
  • Current code prohibits all music in Local Retail Districts
  • Current code does not regulate outdoor patios
  • Current code language does not directly restrict entertainment in bars in General Retail and Industrial Districts (but, because of the lack of clarity, these uses have been subject to a stricter interpretation with respect to distance requirements)


Nightclubs, Dance Clubs, etc.

  •  “Nightclub” is defined to include at least 400 sf of entertainment or dance area
  • Nightclubs and other full-scale entertainment uses are prohibited in Local Retail Districts
  • Permitted in General Retail and Industrial Districts as Conditional Use with BZA approval, meeting standards (500-foot separation, etc.)
  • Current code does not define “nightclub” but appears to permit such uses in General Retail and Industrial Districts
  • Nightclubs and other full-scale entertainment uses are now permitted in General Retail and Industrial but are subject to 500-foot separation rules




  • New ordinance clarifies that, for restaurants and bars, one off-street parking space is required for each 4 seats both indoors and on patio on private property
  • NOTE:  Alternatives discussed included reducing the parking requirement for outdoor patios to one parking space for each 8 seats (considering that indoor seating is often less used when outdoor patios are in use).  This alternative was also paired with a proposal to require parking for seating in sidewalk café areas, which is not now the case.
  • Requires same parking for nightclubs but adds “parking equal to 3 x gross floor area” as alternate calculation (whichever is greater)
  • Current code does not specifically address parking for patios.  Practice is to treat patios same as indoor space, except to exclude sidewalk café areas
  • Current code does not treat nightclubs differently than restaurants for parking

so it is about quality of life

 It is about how far from residential areas, it is about safety for patrons, and about parking. It is not about rock n roll, it is about quality of life.

a license for live entertainment

 Licensing is required for barber shops, hair salons, manicurists, grocery stores, health clinics, drivers of automobiles and truck drivers. There are  some basics that have to be covered to try to make sure that the health and welfare of the the licensee and the public are addressed. 



The right to live in your home and neighborhood

The right to live in your home and neighborhood without the vibration, yelling, puking, fights, and traffic at 2:00 AM is what the proposed changes in zoning codes are all about. It forces bars and restaurants that want to have live entertainment to have a discussion with the surrounding neighbors, residential and businesses. 

The Scene covered the flame out recently over the proposed codes:

2d District Community Relations weighed in last week. It was the 2d District officers that had to deal with the problems around Moda, the Envy Night Club (that a judge ruled is to stay open because the Cleveland laws are too antiquated to use to close them down), La Copa, El Tropical  over the last few years. We haven't even made it to the Tremont border, and there is the rest of the City of Cleveland.

No one has a problem with music. Most people like music. Cleveland residents paid for a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to honor music, even though the ceremonies and accolades happen elsewhere.

No one has yet put a dollar figure on all "the money rolling into the city because of the revived entertainment". Sales taxes go to the state, and yes, servers pay city income taxes on the special $4-5 an hour they make, but where does the rest of all this money go?

It comes down to figuring out zoning codes,  what is reasonable, and what the people who live in the neighborhood want. As far as "I want to hear my music and I want it loud", I'd suggest having a band over to your home, and play the music really loud till 2:00 AM, and of course, have as many friends as possible over. Give them a lot to drink. See how long it takes for a reaction from the police and the neighbors.

That is what is being asked of us Clevelanders by those who are buying into the myth that updating zoning codes will kill the music. It is not the day the music died, folks.

2d district on the legislation

2d District Community Relations weighed in last week. It was the 2d District officers that had to deal with the problems around Moda, the Envy Night Club (that a judge ruled is to stay open because the Cleveland laws are too antiquated to use to close them down), La CopaEl Tropical  over the last few years. We haven't even made it to the Tremont border, and there is the rest of the City of Cleveland.
October 12, 2011

To: Cleveland City Council

RE: Proposed City Council Legislation (347.11)

On October 11th, 2011 the Second District Community Relations Committee voted to support 

the current amended legislation (347.11) that was approved by the City Planning Commission 

on 4/15/11.

Over the past three years our committee has heard presentations on the proposed legislation 

and held discussions with numerous public officials and other interested parties on the need to 

reform and update the current Cleveland Zoning & Licensing codes for bars, restaurants, 

nightclubs, and entertainment venues. Our committee works within the entire Second District 

area, striving to improve the quality of life of our residents and stakeholders. Our committee has 

been advised of cases being dismissed in Cleveland Municipal Court due to the lack of clarity in 

the current laws, some of which were written over 70 years ago. We hope that Cleveland City 

Council will support the proposed legislation (347.11) and start its legislative process without 

delay. We need fair, balanced and enforceable laws that protect both the quality of life of our 

residents, and at the same time, will make it easier for local businesses to thrive and operate 

legally within the City of Cleveland.



Robert W. Shores 

Committee Co-Chair
Keith Sulzer 

Committee Co-Chair and 

Second District Commander 

CC: Planning Director Robert Brown 

Chief of Staff Ken Silliman 

Chief of Govt. Affairs Valarie McCall 


Value of REALNEO...the band played on

You are getting a steady readership here.  I think that the value of REALNEO is shown in the interest in your post on music legislation.

I wish that we didn't get bogged down in the personal.  In my own neighborhood, it saddens me to know that we have world class musicians who are not getting the recognition they deserve.  See Frankie Lopez.  Music appreciation is polarized to the extremes of stuffy orchestral and the drug-addled bar scene.  There has to be other options.  We need music and dance in our lives.

why am I not allowed to edit this?

For some reason, the edit feature is off.

No change to edit...should be accessible

Hello Dwebb,   

Are you editing the orignal post or your comment?

Both should be possible.




editing, Mr. Admin

Hello admin,

to clarify, it is this specific original post. While logged in, the edit option does not appear as it does on other posts.


admin, the edit option is not on this page

I wish to delete this blog (and, yes, the comments too). The edit option does not appear.