Reed Lamb, a bartender at Club 21 on NE Sandy, hopes to open a new bar called The Standard on NE 22nd, just off E Burnside. He's applied for a liquor license, and is busy renovating the single-story space that's tucked back from the street, hoping to open it later this summer. "I'm going for a neighborhood bar," Lamb says. "A low-key, neighborhood setting."
Plenty of neighbors, however, wish he'd find a new spot to open his business. They're upset that Lamb's new bar is just a few feet away from homes, near a daycare center, and opens onto a mostly residential side street—not busy E Burnside. The two sides have been flyering utility poles, sending letters to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), and even circulating a petition.
"I'm not saying that bars are bad, I'm not saying this bar owner is bad. But a bar in a residential neighborhood is like oil on water," says one neighbor, who asked not to be named. "I believe it makes my neighborhood unlivable—and I know that's strong wording. But I never would have bought my house knowing a bar could go in there."
She and other neighbors have flooded the OLCC with 143 letters opposed to the bar, citing things like the potential for drunken drivers on the streets, late-night noise—The Standard plans to have a patio open until 10 pm—the number of children living nearby, and a lack of parking.
Another 46 people have written the OLCC in support of Lamb and of his new business, calling him talented, experienced, and professional, and praising the positive effect the bar could have on the neighborhood. Meanwhile, a petition in support of the bar has garnered 216 signatures, according to Lamb.
"It feels funny to meet this resistance. I want to work with these neighbors," Lamb says. He says he intends to be a responsible bar owner who follows the noise ordinance "whole-heartedly." As for the parking and drunken driving concerns, Lamb says he was drawn to the space in part because it lacked parking spaces: "I don't like drunken driving. I hope to get a lot of walking traffic from the neighborhood."
Despite the neighborhood tension, Lamb's moving forward with his bar (his license application hasn't been assigned to an OLCC investigator yet). "I've been daydreaming about owning a bar for a really long time, and I've been working toward this goal intently for the last five years," he says. "I can understand where these people are coming from, but this is important to me, and I'm not walking away from it."