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Commission denies late night permit for West 6th Street bar

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 by Elizabeth Pagano

Though the owners of Third Base sports bar didn’t stick around to hear it, the Planning Commission last month voted 8-0 to deny a conditional use permit for late hours, despite staff recommendation in favor of it. Commissioner Saundra Kirk was absent.


Neighbors showed up in force to protest the late-hour permit for the sports bar, which is located at 2712 West Sixth Street. They complained of loud crowds, rowdy patrons, and dangerous driving near the complicated intersection of MoPac and Sixth Street.


The owners, Michael Tashnik and Brandon Puthoff, explained that though they were initially granted a late-hours permit with conditions of approval from the neighborhood in 2007, they chose to withdraw the permit in favor of 4ifying the attached conditions.


Neighbors, and the commission, seemed skeptical that the owners would stick to new conditions, after abandoning them years earlier. Though the owners presented a list of proposed conditions intended to mitigate noise and parking troubles, they were unable to strike a deal with the neighborhood.


“I was on the commission when this first came to us and my memory is that from the very beginning you all promised that you would not have any amplified sound or televisions on the patio, period,” said Commissioner Mandy Dealey. “So, I’m a little confused because it sounds like the original promises that were made aren’t being honored, but yet you are asking us to give you even more privileges.”


Laura Porcaro, who sits on both the zoning committee of Old West Austin Neighborhood Association (OWANA) and is chair of the Fifth and Sixth Street Vision Committee, explained that while her organizations supported density, she was opposing the late-hours permit.


“The whole list is great to talk about, but he never implemented it, and we gave him a whole month to do it… We, in good faith, did negotiate with him, and gave him a chance to prove himself, but he didn’t do any of it. So I can’t see how you would approve a late-night beverage permit to just exacerbate all the problems that are here before you,” said Porcaro.


Perhaps sensing that things were not going their way, owners Tashnik and Puthoff walked out after Commissioner Danette Chimenti made a motion to deny the variance. The owners stormed out in the midst of Chimenti addressing them. She was asking that they take the next year as an opportunity to work with the neighborhood.


Puthoff had already rejected the notion of working with the neighborhood in spite of a denial.


“We actually are open to whatever it is we can do to resolve these issues. Late hours aside, we want to be a good neighbor. If this is the end of this road, this is the end of this road, and nothing changes,” said Puthoff.


“If we are given a mandate by the Planning Commission to go back and have an agreement,” that would result in the bar having a late night permit, “that’s what I think is the best for the neighborhood, honestly.”


However, Puthoff made it clear that what he thought was “best for the neighborhood” would not be happening without assurance from the commission that the permit would follow.


“I’m not sure what the impetus would be to change what we’re doing,” said Puthoff. “You’re saying we get denied a late-hours permit… but you still want us to do things that are going to affect our revenue potential? Uh, no. Absolutely not.”


Though the owners cited neighborhood support for the establishment, all of the dozen-odd people present were there to speak against the permit.


“There’s a clear conflict between the sports bar patio revelry and trying to live in a safe, quiet, livable neighborhood. I like sports bars, and I like happy hours, but I also like neighborhoods, and I like neighbors. . . And I gotta tell you, a lot of times Third Base makes it awfully hard to love ’em. They aren’t a bad idea, they’re just a bad business model,” said Mike Sullivan, who is the Chairman of the OWANA Traffic and Safety Committee. “This is how East Sixth Street got started, and the vision we’re trying to do on West Sixth Street is to avoid that, and not have to deal with all of the conflict and violence.”


Though Puthoff told Chair Dave Sullivan that they would not be appealing the decision to Council, he may find himself back at City Hall soon enough.


“I just want to tell the neighborhood that I hope that you guys are keeping track of the complaints, I hope that you’re calling APD, and getting those complaints on the record, and I hope that you will be in touch with the Music Office, and when their permit comes back up in July, you will oppose it and let the Music Office know what you let us know here tonight,” said Chimenti.

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