As 75-year-old king of the surf guitar Dick Dale shredded onstage at the famed SLO Brew, city council members grappled with the fate of the legendary microbrewery and indisputable center of San Luis Obispo’s music scene.
On Nov. 20, the San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously voted to deny an appeal of the SLO Brew relocation with a 4-0 vote, following what both council members and the applicants called a “compromise” on a number of conditions.
Councilman Dan Carpenter recused himself from the vote over a conflict of interest (Carpenter is co-owner of a nearby building).
In the nearly four-hour hearing, the council heard from the applicants—current SLO Brew owners Todd Newman and Hamish Marshall—on a number of issues regarding the project that had been left unsatisfied since the first relocation hearing on Sept. 25.
The 25-year-old popular brewery, restaurant, bar, and concert venue is planning to move from its current location on Garden Street to a nearby location, the two-story, 15,000-square-foot Carissa Building at 726-738 Higuera Street.
Of particular note, the council originally took exception with the new building’s occupancy limits; hours of operation; queuing the line for music events over the Warden Bridge and onto the Mission Plaza on Thursday nights so as to not conflict with Farmers Market; and a city hold-harmless agreement for concertgoers in line over the bridge.
The most significant battle, however, was the third-level rooftop patio dining area, which the council earlier said could be too easily converted into a full bar and wanted removed from the project entirely.
Marshall, however, along with his planning consultant Carol Florence, were able to convince the council that the roof would be the “crowning jewel” of the project, and it deserved to stay after they reduced the occupancy to just 49 people and assured the council there would be no bar. The council also conceded to allow acoustic or light ambient music on the patio.
“There are a lot of good reasons to move forward with this project,” said Councilwoman Kathy Smith. “Change is healthy in the community, and I’ll tell you, I want to be one of the first people on that roof.”
The project will now be subject to architectural and cultural review.
SLO Brew’s relocation had been challenged by a group called Save Our Downtown, which contended the project would increase alcohol problems in the city, as well as clash with the aesthetics of downtown.
Roughly 30 residents spoke before the council—mostly in favor of the relocation—and argued that the venue is among the most important in town, attracting a wide variety of big-name musical acts that might otherwise pass San Luis Obispo by for larger cities.
“You have to consider who you are saving the downtown for,” said SLO Brew patron and KCBX FM disc jockey Neal Losey.
Should all else go according to plan, the new SLO Brew could be up and running by sometime in 2015.