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UPDATE: Decision delayed on relocation of SLO Brewing Co.

SLO Brewing Co. hopes to move from Garden Street into this space next to the Frog and Peach on Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo. It’s now occupied by two shops, Francie and Luna Rustica.
SLO Brewing Co. hopes to move from Garden Street into this space next to the Frog and Peach on Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo. It’s now occupied by two shops, Francie and Luna Rustica. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

UPDATE 3:32 p.m. Sept. 26:SLO Brewing Company will have to scale down its ambitions in order to appease the City Council’s concerns about it proposed move to Higuera Street.

The council voted 4-0 Tuesday night to continue the discussion about the proposed move from Garden Street to Higuera Street to Nov. 20. City staff was also asked to craft a number of conditions that would limit how SLO Brewing Company does business.

Councilman Dan Carpenter recused himself from the discussion because he owns property nearby.

SLO Brewing Company co-owners Hamish Marshall and Todd Newman had hoped to expand the business to serve more people in its restaurant and also expand its capacity for concerts.

Newman told the council that increasing the number of people attending concerts would allow the venue to attract a higher caliber lineup of musicians.

However, council members bristled at the idea of approving a floor plan that would allow for up to 143 more people for concerts and 192 in the restaurant bar area at peak times compared to their current location on Garden Street.

Councilman Kath Smith said that allowing the higher capacity would make the business “destined to create downtown issues.”

Marshall said Wednesday he remains committed to the project and is confident a middle ground will be reached.

“What happened last night was sort of like a back handed approval,” said Marshall. “The council is willing to give some but not all of what we are asking for. They are willing to let us grow from where we are today but want to be very cautious of how much. Change is difficult and it is very difficult for this town.”

He said he is not necessarily unhappy about the council’s stipulations but is frustrated with the delay. The project, which was approved unanimously by the city’s Planning Commission in July, only came before the council because it was appealed.

“I’m frustrated that it’s not done and I can’t move on,” said Marshall. “Now we have to go through more hoops and come back to the City Council. It is all of those things that cost money.”

SLO Brewing Company is seeking the relocation because its existing location will become a restaurant and bar for a hotel approved as part of the mixed-use Garden Street Terraces project.

If the move is not approved, SLO Brewing Company would disappear, said Hamish.

“That would be a huge loss to the city and cause massive community outrage,” he said.

The proposal for the new location was to expand the brewery to three levels, adding outdoor dining on Higuera Street, along San Luis Obispo Creek and on the roof. The two-story 15,000- square-foot building, known as the Carissa Building, would include a restaurant, bar and brewery on the first floor and a 3,000-square-foot concert venue on the second. A patio and small bar were proposed for the roof.

The council also expressed concerns about the impacts to the nearby San Luis Obispo Creek with the added foot traffic to the area.

Ideas of mitigating that include mandating the patrons queue along Higuera Street, not behind the business as originally planned.

The council also said they would not condone a rooftop patio because of potential noise disturbances.

ORIGINAL STORYThe San Luis Obispo City Council on Tuesday night was leaning in favor of allowing SLO Brewing Co. to relocate.

Council members were still trying to decide late into the night whether they would allow the move to Higuera Street with explicit conditions that would limit its size, possible impacts on the creek and possibly eliminate the rooftop patio.

The discussion will return to the council later, possibly with additional conditions to address some of the public’s concerns about impacts to San Luis Obispo Creek and Mission Plaza.

An appeal hearing before the council led the way to hours of public comment — mostly in support of the business.

More than 100 people packed the council chambers and stood in the hallways in order to take part in the meeting.

Opponents of the move said negative impacts to the nearby San Luis Obispo Creek such as increased public urination and littering would be a result of the move, because it would become an overflow area for alcohol-related activities. However, patrons, nearby business owners and employees of the business rallied in its support — praising SLO Brewing Co. co-owners Hamish Marshall and Todd Newman for their dedication to the downtown area and for providing a live concert venue.

One speaker credited the business for putting San Luis Obispo on the map for music. “They have a vision and the means to do it,” said Aaron Gomez, who owns The Gold Concept next door to the proposed new site. “They are committed to this area and do a lot downtown.”

The city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved the move from Garden Street to 736-738 Higuera St. in July. But that decision was appealed by Save Our Downtown, a citizens’ group that seeks to preserve the character of downtown.

The new location would expand the brewery to three levels, adding outdoor dining on Higuera Street, along San Luis Obispo Creek and on the roof.

The two-story 15,000- square-foot building, known as the Carissa Building, would include a restaurant, bar and brewery on the first floor and a 3,000-square-foot concert venue on the second.

A patio and small bar are proposed for the roof.

The building’s creekside entrance will be used as the main entrance to queue patrons for larger events such as concerts. That concerned opponents who said they did not want lines of people through Mission Plaza and on Warden Bridge.

However, project consultant Carol Florence said enhancing the area would improve it and make it safer.

“The question is: Is this the appropriate project for this community at this time, and how do you deal with the impact?” said Brett Cross, who expressed concern that patrons would spill into nearby neighborhoods at closing time.

Another resident, Dixie Cliff, said she was concerned that there were too many empty storefronts downtown and what seems like an increasing number of bars and restaurants.

But supporters far outweighed detractors.

“SLO Brew is one of the shining jewels of this community in the downtown and their move should be embraced and celebrated,” said Mike White, owner of Boo Boo Records, the primary ticket outlet in the county.

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