CARLSBAD – The City Council balked at a request to allow distilleries, but said restaurants were OK in an industrial part of Carlsbad Village, after a three-hour hearing on July 25.
The 2-2 decision came after a request by Nicholas Hammond, owner of Pacific Coast Spirits, to amend the city’s planning documents and allow distilleries in a part of the village designated District 6, on Tyler Street between Walnut and Oak avenues, at a location owned by Mayor Matt Hall.
Hall recused himself from the discussion and the council was split on the issue of allowing distilleries in this part of the village, with Councilman Mark Packard and Councilwoman Cori Schumacher voting no.
Packard said he believed that distilleries and other alcohol-producing businesses don’t benefit neighborhoods in the long run, so he couldn’t support allowing distilleries.
“My old friend Thomas Jefferson helped me out, in a quote I found last week,” Packard said. “On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock. So my principle is that … distilleries, wineries are not going to be a long-term plus in the community, so I am not going to support the motion to allow a distillery in this zone.”
In June, the Planning Commission approved the request to allow distilleries in the district, by a 3-2 vote, with two members absent. Commissioners and residents who opposed distilleries cited the proximity to the Boys & Girls Club and nearby homes, and a lack of parking.
Liquor stores, wineries and breweries are already allowed in different parts of village by-right, meaning without special approval by the City Council.
District 6 — where the distilleries were proposed — is currently dominated by car-oriented businesses, like a towing company and an auto-body shop, and self-storage. Wineries are already allowed in the district and in the adjacent village area stretching east to Madison Street.
Cori Schumacher said she had a problem with the process of how wineries and breweries were first allowed in the village, and that a distillery is a manufacturing operation that belongs in an industrial area.
Councilman Michael Schumacher said he didn’t see there were many issues between existing bars and restaurants and the nearby Boys & Girls Club, and said he agrees the council needs to approve new uses as the downtown “matures.”
“There’s so much vibrancy and so much activity going on in the village, and in my opinion it’s getting better and better all the time with the new uses,” Michael Schumacher said. “Currently wineries are allowed — liquor stores are allowed. I would like to not see, necessarily, a winery in this spot, or a liquor store in this spot, but the farm-to-table restaurant and bringing something unique to Carlsbad is something I’m in support of.”
Residents who spoke at the meeting were split between those who thought the change to the village plans needed to be studied more, and those who liked the project, or thought the council needed to support businesses that add vibrancy to the village.
Some also accused the mayor of “coercing” city staff to support the change, or said there was a conflict of interest, despite Mayor Hall recusing himself from the vote.
The council separated the approvals for distilleries and restaurants in their motions, and unanimously supported allowing restaurants, despite saying no to distilleries.