Updated: Jul 20
Santa Clara’s Planning Commission on Wednesday made a decision that some members have pushed for a long time: they approved live music for a new restaurant coming to the city.
That may not sound like a big deal to some, but it’s a milestone for Anthony Becker, chair of the city’s planning commission, and Commissioner Suds Jain, who have both advocated for the city to relax its stringent rules and costly permitting process for live music at bars and restaurants around the city. The rules and fees have discouraged some businesses from even applying to bring live entertainment to Santa Clara and the approval this week marks a step toward boosting the city’s nightlife as the community looks to rebuild its once-thriving downtown.
On Wednesday night the planning commission unanimously voted to approve a new license to sell beer, wine and liquor and to allow live music for “ambiance” at the planned Eureka Restaurant, set to open early next year in Santa Clara Square Marketplace at 2762 Augustine Dr. in Suite 120.
“I’m just glad to see a live music place being here in Santa Clara,” Becker said.
Santa Clara’s zoning code today doesn’t allow businesses to host live music without a permit in most parts of the city. Businesses can apply for a permit, which requires special review and about $11,600, including fees and taxes. Since 1999, about 25 businesses in Santa Clara have been granted such permits, Gloria Sciara, the city’s development review officer, told San José Spotlight in June.
Meanwhile, city officials have heard calls for more live entertainment in the city. Planners are working on a major revamp of Santa Clara’s 50-year-old zoning code that is expected to make it easier for live music to pop up in the city.
“We are interested, as part of the zoning code update, to find opportunities to either do an administrative permit or … by-right with certain conditions in place in the zoning code,” Planning Manager Reena Brilliot told commissioners Wednesday. “So hopefully the process will be reduced, and thus, the fees (will be reduced).”
Councilmembers, planning commissioners and residents have weighed in during study sessions this year on potential changes to the zoning code. A final draft is expected to come before the City Council next year.
Jain told San José Spotlight in June he is in favor of by-right approvals for live music and reduced fees to spur more activity and economic development in the city.
“People don’t really come to Santa Clara to vacation; they come here for business or they come here for a game or a concert at the stadium, but there’s basically nothing to do in Santa Clara,” he said. “I would like for residents to spend their entertainment dollars here in the city.”
The new Eureka Restaurant will span about 3,400 square feet and include a 650-square-foot outdoor patio with a fire pit. It’ll employ about 90 people when fully staffed.
Eureka’s Santa Clara location will be the 27th in the country, but third in the South Bay. Music is an important part of its aesthetic, according to documents submitted to the city, in which company representatives bill the restaurant as “eater-tainment,” flush with food, music, “a fun vibe” and televisions.
The restaurant is set to stay open until midnight from Sunday through Thursday and until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Eureka’s opening, along with the live music and late hours, will be a welcome addition to residents already living in the newly-built apartments at Santa Clara Square, said Carlene Matchniff, vice president of government relations for The Irvine Co., which owns and is developing the property.
“I think that being in the shopping center with a lot of other activities around, like Levi’s Stadium, there is a demand for later hours,” she told commissioners Wednesday. “We’ve got a lot of feedback from our residents who are already living in Santa Clara Square that they would like to have a venue open later.”
Contact Janice Bitters at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.