Palo Alto's most prominent downtown gathering spot may become a bit more subdued under a new proposal to restrict amplified sound at Lytton Plaza.
The City Council will consider on Monday night whether to set time limits on amplified sound at Lytton Plaza. The recently renovated plaza, located at University Avenue and Emerson Street, has long enjoyed a status as the city's "free speech" zone and is often used by musicians.
But the entertainment at Lytton Plaza hasn't always been music to the ears of local merchants. In recent months, businesses have lobbied the city to impose time and use restrictions on amplified sound at the plaza. Merchants have complained that the sound during daytime is too loud while residents said the music is too loud late at night.
According to a new report from the Community Services Department, the electrical outlets in the plaza had other "unintended consequences."
"People have used the outlets to power portable stereos, heaters, stoves and various other household outlets," the report states. "The plaza has become a 'draw' for people seeking use of 'free' electricity."
The city's Parks and Recreation Commission has spent more than a year considering a variety of ideas for dealing with the problem. After scrapping a prior plan that would have required permits for amplified sound, the commission voted on Aug. 28 to accept a less stringent proposal that would permit amplified sound on a first come, first-served basis. This would be allowed between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, between noon and 11 p.m. on Saturdays and between noon and 10 p.m. on Sundays.
There would be no permits required for using the plaza during the standard hours, but those looking to reserve a time in advance can obtain a permit for $90. City-sponsored and permitted events would have priority.
The council will consider this proposal on Nov. 19.