Two members of the San Luis Obispo group Save Our Downtown have appealed recently approved plans for a bowling alley and concert venue, saying the project doesn’t fit with the downtown’s small-scale, mixed-use character.
The San Luis Obispo Planning Commission approved plans July 22 for Discovery San Luis Obispo, a 13-lane bowling alley, restaurant and concert space with late-night alcohol service at 1144 Chorro St.
The City Council is tentatively scheduled to hear the appeal on Oct. 6.
San Luis Obispo residents Sandra Lakeman and James Lopes wrote in their appeal that the allowed uses seem to be in pursuit of making downtown into a permanent “party place.”
“The uses proposed are not ones that will encourage citizens of the town to come to the downtown area,” they wrote. “It appears to be another business complying with the desires of the thousands of college students.”
Discovery San Luis Obispo includes a bowling alley with seven lanes on the ground floor and six lanes on a mezzanine level; a concert venue with a maximum occupancy of 393 people; upper and basement-level lounges; and a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Full food service would be available at all times alcohol is served.
A majority of planning commissioners also decided the new facility should close at midnight — not 2 a.m. as the applicant, Jeremy Pemberton, managing partner of Discovery San Luis Obispo, had requested.
The appellants, Lakeman and Lopes, said the Planning Commission failed to adequately address potential noise problems from the bowling alley and concert area, rowdy behavior from crowds outside the venue, long lines of patrons waiting to get into the facility and increased demand on the nearby Marsh Street parking garage.
They want the council to deny the project or modify its permit to allow a smaller-scale use; reduce the number of lounge areas and seats; and enclose the facility to contain the noise from the bowling alleys, bar and music.
Pemberton said Tuesday that conditions already placed on the project ensure that neighborhood impacts have been mitigated. In addition, Pemberton said his company has paid more than $100,000 in in-lieu parking fees and reimbursed the city for an independent traffic analysis.
“Furthermore,” he wrote in an email, “the facility’s design layout provides an intimate experience while providing many of the community’s underserved needs, including private event/banquet space, bowling, concert venue, karaoke rooms, high-quality, late-night food and sophisticated gaming attractions.”
The 24,500-square-foot building most recently housed Sports Authority but has been vacant since that business relocated to Madonna Plaza in 2012.
Lakeman and Lopes suggested the site house a downtown marketplace or other retail or dining business instead.