The easy argument to make is that people shouldn't move to neighborhoods known for the nightlife and then complain about the nightlife. But have any of you intelligent, classy Observer readers partied in Uptown recently? Who among us really wants to go on the record defending Kung Fu Saloon, the Uptown arcade bar that the federal government has confirmed is racist?
"The bars are declining in terms of quality. They're having more and more people from far and far away and they're self-segregating by ethnicity," says Councilman Philip Kingston. (At a Kung-Fu Saloon protest last year, many young bar-hoppers said they sensed that numerous Uptown clubs place a limit on how many black people bouncers allow inside).
Whatever the reason, Uptown's neighbors want to make changes. The area's neighborhood association has begun talking about ways to crack down on some nightlife and was scheduled to meet with Kingston Thursday night to discuss the ideas further.
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The Uptown Neighborhood Association, also know as TUNA, has so far proposed making Uptown a "planned development," which would require businesses that wish to stay open late to seek permits. A manager at Uptown Pub, one of the few Uptown bars that we subjectively consider to be "not-douchey," (a technical term that can be defined as pleasant, down-to-earth and not racist) sounded not thrilled about the idea when we gave her a call. "Is this the same b.s. they did down on Greenville?" she asked. The manager, Cynthia, says that people from the apartments surrounding Uptown Pub sometimes call to complain about noise. When she points out that the noise could be coming from any of the many bars nearby, she says people don't have much else to say. "It's annoying to me. You know what you're moving into," she says. She says that Uptown Pub now turns its music down at 11 p.m. to keep neighbors happy.
But local officials insist that people like Cynthia don't need to panic. Uptown Neighborhood Association President Tony Page says that no one wants the local nightlife to close early or shut down, though he does reference Lower Greenville as a neighborhood that better balances the concerns of neighbors and bar-owners. Page and his neighbors just want the local bars and restaurants to follow laws that are already in place, he says. "Part of it [TUNA's proposal] is kind of aspirational, is looking at Lower Greenville and Deep Ellum and how they're developing," he says.
Page says that a small handful of bars in Uptown — three or four that he didn't want to name — repeatedly violate existing noise and parking ordinances. But building a noise complaint case against a single bar is a cumbersome and bureaucratic process. As for parking, Page says, several businesses claim to provide a certain number of parking spaces, when in reality, they share the same valet stand with other businesses that in turn claim the same parking spaces as their own. "There's no interest on TUNA's part in having bars and restaurants close at midnight. That's not in anybody's interest," he says.