OCEANSIDE — A stretch of Coast Highway 101 is on its way to becoming the new “Hops Highway.”
The Downtown Advisory Committee on Wednesday recommended zoning changes to allow stand alone craft breweries and wineries in the city’s downtown, from it’s northern edge to Seagaze Drive.
Currently beer and wine producing operations without a restaurant are restricted to light industrial zones in Oceanside, and most cities.
The zoning, which was first introduced to residents at a community workshop in February, allows brewing, fermenting, and a limited size tasting room in downtown commercial zones along Coast Highway.
As written, regulations allow Tier I start up breweries and wineries, under 5,000 square feet that produce less than 5,000 barrels of beer or 4,000 cases of wine, to open by-right without public review.
Startups that abut residential zones would have a non-administrative review process that would not include required neighborhood notification or an appeals process.
The commission added a recommendation that all size operations next to residential zones go through an administrative review process to ensure an opportunity for community input.
“I’m OK with Tier I, but not adjacent to residential,” Commissioner Claudia Troisi said.
An online survey from the city held between March and April and completed by 500 respondents, found the majority in favor of craft breweries and wineries in commercial zones.
Most respondents were agreeable to operation hours until 10 p.m., no happy hour price discounts, and the allowance of food trucks with a permit.
Respondents also agreed that craft breweries and wineries would add to the city’s economy, and bring a different character of patrons than bars.
Russ Cunningham, city principal planer, said police have reported few incidents with downtown brewery/restaurants, and the same is expected of stand alone breweries.
“There is a clear distinction between these types of facilities, there are a lot more (police) service calls for traditional bars,” Cunningham said.
Jeff Hunt, city planner, said the goal of the zoning amendment is to allow stand alone breweries, and respect adjacent residents.
“It’s a balance of streamlining regulations and promoting revitalization, while still trying to address neighbors’ concerns,” Hunt said.
What was heard loud and clear from residents at the commission meeting is that they do not support zoning to allow craft breweries in South Oceanside, where residential zoning abuts commercial uses on Coast Highway.
Residents expressed concerns with South Oceanside traffic, parking, the impact of current brewery/restaurants, lack of marked crosswalks, and uncertainty about road changes for Coast Highway.
They requested the city wait until highway traffic and parking studies are completed at the end the year, and there is a decision on road improvements.
Oceanside resident Nadine Scott said making a zoning change in South Oceanside now is “putting the cart before the horse.”
The commission also added recommendations to allow production silos to be outdoors, and to consider the density of breweries and wineries.
Craft brewery and winery zoning will go before the Planning Commission Aug. 8, and to a city council vote Sept. 7.