Bouquets and Brickbats: SLO Brew move is an opportunity for the city

Save Our Downtown has a new mission: defending the city of SLO from beer-drinking ruffians.

We’re talking, of course, about the brouhaha over SLO Brew. Owners of the restaurant/bar/concert venue propose to move from their current Garden Street location to a big barn of a building on Higuera Street, next to Frog and Peach. Among other changes, owners want to expand the capacity of the concert space to 600, from the current 457.

The Planning Commission approved the project unanimously, but Save Our Downtown appealed the decision to the City Council.

The organization — which has, in the past, lobbied to protect the city’s architectural and historical character — is worried that a bigger, better SLO Brew would detract from the city’s “family-friendly ambience.”

Now, the City Council seems intent on imposing so many conditions that the project could become a watered-down version of the original proposal. The council does not, for example, want a rooftop patio because of potential noise problems. Nor does it want to allow the increased concert capacity proposed by applicants.

We understand that there are concerns about noise, drunken patrons, etc., but the city has ordinances in place to control those behaviors.

This is an opportunity to put a vibrant, successful business in a large space that’s been hard to fill. Also, a slightly larger concert venue would attract bigger acts and more business, and that would be an economic boon for the downtown.

We raise awell-brewed bouquet to the applicants — who have indicated that they’re willing to work with the city to reach a compromise — and we urge the city to focus not only on potential problems, but also on the many merits of the project.

Safer lanyards long overdue

We toss a better-late-than-never bouquet to the Department of State Hospitals, for figuring out a safer way for employees of psychiatric facilities to carry personal alarms. Workers at Napa State Hospital were issued alarms on lanyards worn around the neck, but employees worried they could be choked by patients grabbing the cords. That indeed happened — one nurse was attacked, but wasn’t seriously injured.

The Department of State Hospitals has since switched to safer lanyards that break apart in three places; employees also have the option of attaching the alarms to their belt loops.

Atascadero State Hospital employees won’t be getting the personal alarms until next fall, by the way.

Bad call was a game-changer

We normally stay out of professional sports controversies, but we couldn’t resist weighing in when we learned that the NFL ref who made the infamous call against Green Bay is from Santa Maria.

We do feel a twinge of sympathy for replacement ref Lance Easley, but a blown call is a blown call. We’re wrapping up a brickbat of moldy cheese, but we’ll toss in a game-changing bouquet, as Easley’s awful call no doubt played a role in ending the labor dispute.