Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 7:48 pm | Fair 68º


Local News

Santa Maria Council Rejects Libertine Brewing Company Tasting Room Appeal

Tyler Clark, Libertine Brewing Company co-founder and president, asks the Santa Maria City Council to give the tasting room at A Street a chance.
Tyler Clark, Libertine Brewing Company co-founder and president, asks the Santa Maria City Council to give the tasting room at A Street a chance.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A craft brewing company can’t open a tasting room at its new Santa Maria site, the City Council voted Tuesday night, agreeing with opponents that the location isn’t suitable.

Libertine Brewing Company asked the council to overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of a conditional use permit to operate a tasting room at its 8,295-square-foot building at 2325 A Street in the A Street Business Center on the southwestern edge of Santa Maria.

“I just personally think we need to respect the rights of those surrounding businesses and deny the use of this property for a tasting room,” Councilman Jack Boysen said, adding he is fully supportive of the tasting room in a different location in the city. 

“It’s just not the right place,” Boysen added.

The council voted 4 to 1, with Councilwoman Terri Zuniga opposed, to uphold the denial of the project after more than 90 minutes of discussion. 

The firm is allowed to store and bottle beer at the Santa Maria site, but the proposed tasting room required an additional review. 

Community Development Director Larry Appel likened the A Street Business Center to industrial condominiums which creates the unique situation. Tenants own their building including part of the parking lot.

Limited parking prompted some neighbors to oppose the tasting room, although the proposed conditions of approval included limiting the number of customers who could be at Libertine for tasting and the hours that aspect of the business could operate.

“I think the fact that staff is suggesting so many conditions on this project is also indicative of the inherent potential conflicts,” Boysen said. “We may have conflicts that we haven’t even thought of at this point and time.”

While Santa Maria Brewing Company is located in a similar light industrial setting, it was one of the first businesses to open at the site. Libertine is moving into site where several existing businesses operate.

Councilman Bob Orach also agreed the A Street location is not appropriate for a tasting room. In addition to limited spaces on site, parking is also banned along A Street. 

“In my own experience, fighting parking issues is just a killer,” he added.

As the lone supporter of the tasting room, Zuniga said the conditional use permit process would allow the city to see if the tasting room can operate at the site without causing conflicts with neighbors.

“I think that this location, and these types of locations, is exactly where you find a lot of brewery tasting rooms,” Zuniga said.  

Libertine representatives said they were ready to finalize agreements that would allow them to use neighbors’ parking spaces during the non-regular business hours that tasting would occur. 

One of the neighbors spoke up in favor of Libertine, saying Fisher Pump & Well Services would provide eight parking spaces for the tasting room.

“We do not feel having Libertine Brewing will impact our business in a negative way,” office manager Stacey Dunlap said.

The most vocal opposition came from James Simms, whose Simms Machinery International sits across the parking lot from Libertine’s location.

Simms said he moved to the site from a facility on Preisker Lane eight years ago after finding an affordable building with the suitable zoning for his firm. 

“All of our work’s international, therefore, we don’t have the normal 8 to 5 business hours that normal folks do,” Simms said, adding he feels bad opposing the tasting room. 

“I think this is the wrong place. I think it should be in a place that offers those similar types of businesses.” 

As a higher end brewery,  Libertine would cater to the professional clientele and more experienced beer consumers, the craft beer firm’s representatives said.

The firm that started in 2012 and already has facilities in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, with beers sold in Sweden, England, France and Canada.

Before the council’s vote, Tyler Clark, founder and president of Libertine, urged the council to give the tasting room an opportunity to operate.

“I feel like we’re getting punished for future success if we even have that,” he said, adding that if the tasting room became successful, the firm would buy a bigger building for a larger tasting room.

“We’re not here to bum anybody out, ruin everybody’s business and cause a scene,” Clark said. “It’s a community-oriented thing and a small tasting room that’s open a couple of days a week so we can tell our story.”

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 Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

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
One click only, please!

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 >