Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 2:34 am | Fair 60º


Local News

Santa Maria Council Overturns Planners’ OK of Wine-Tasting Room

A dispute between a winery seeking to open a tasting room and a neighboring metal-fabrication business will head back to Santa Maria city staff to try to hash out a compromise. 

On Tuesday night, the Santa Maria City Council overturned the Planning Commission’s approval of the Golden Bear Winery’s tasting room permit. 

But the council’s action on a 3-2 vote also called for Community Development Department staff to prepare a modified conditional-use permit that includes a compromise between the applicant, landowner and appellant regarding hours of operation and other aspects.

Neighbor Jonathan Sinor of JD Fabrications had appealed the Planning Commission’s July approval of the tasting room planned for the industrial building at 2115 S. Blosser Road, citing safety concerns and parking limitations.

“I’d rather see it come back to the council rather than go back to the PC (Planning Commission) without the possibility of the council weighing in on this,” said Councilman Jack Boysen who made the motion that was supported by colleagues Terri Zuniga and Bob Orach.

Zuniga added she supported giving the applicant and appellant an opportunity to resolve the dispute, especially since the permit must return to the council. 

Mayor Alice Patino and Councilwoman Etta Waterfield opposed the council’s motion. 

“I don’t see any middle ground, but you're reading it differently than I am,” Patino said. 

Waterfield cited concerns about incompatible businesses operating near each other.

“There are safety issues there,” Waterfield said.

But the dispute, and a similar one involving a craft beer manufacturer’s tasting room, highlight a need to establish a special area for tasting facilities, council members said.

“I think we need to rethink where we really want to encourage these wine-tasting rooms,” Boysen said. 

He asked if the city’s goal is to attract wine tasters to A Street and Blosser Road, or to get wineries to locate the tasting rooms in Downtown Santa Maria.

He and other council members suggested the city may need to create an incentive program to encourage tasting rooms to be located in a more desirable area. 

The Blosser Road site contains a 29,250-square-foot industrial building filled with multiple tenants, and supported by 73 parking spaces.

Golden Bear operates in other units in the industrial building, with limited tasting occurring in a cramped facility, representatives said. 

A wine-tasting facility and retail outlet are crucial for the winery's growth, its owners said.

The wine tasting operation proposed for Unit 114 would be restricted to 15 people including employees.

Golden Bear Winery reportedly conducted thousands of dollars in tenant improvements in the proposed tasting room unit, but did not seek permits for that work.

Property owner William Lavoie told the council Tuesday night the non-permitted work in Unit 114 violated the lease.

“As far as I’m concerned, they are still in violation of the lease, and I really don’t want to sign anything until the lease is cleared,” he said. “In other words, the permits are pulled and I get copies of the contractor’s contract, lien releases, liability insurance. That’s all in the lease that they have to complete all of that stuff.”

If the winery owners don’t meet the terms of the lease, he said, it doesn’t make sense for him to sign a conditional-use permit because he will start the eviction process.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >