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City Brews Up A Zoning Change
LA MESA -- The remnants of Prohibition officially ended in the Jewel of the Hills Tuesday night.
The City Council voted 5-0 to eliminate restrictions from zoning laws that kept micro-breweries and wine making operations from opening in La Mesa.
Mayor Art Madrid pointed to development and spurred economic develoment that has occurred around the new micro-brewery in El Cajon and said it was time La Mesa acknowledged the trend.
"We are joining the 21st Century,'' Madrid said.
The new zoning changes will allow wine-making and beer-making establishments to open without special local permits in the city's industrial zone -- a large area around Center Street -- and with special conditional use permits in the city's commercial districts. All alcohol-based businesses also undergo extensive reviews from the state licensing authority and are reviewed by local police for safety and security issues.
Quietly sitting in the audience during the zoning change deliberations Tuesday night were Mike and Linda McWilliams, owners of the San Pasqual Winery tasing room located on La Mesa Boulevard.
The McWilliams are in the process of acquiring a site within the city's industrial zone to re-locate their wine-making operation. La Mesa residents, the McWilliams have been making their wine in a Pacific Beach location and would like to bring their operation fully to La Mesa. The couple said they intend to keep the tasting room on La Mesa Boulevard and have their wine-making only at the new location if they can obtain the location.
The soonest they could see wine-making starting here would be next summer, they said.
In an otherwise quiet, uneventful meeting, the council members received an update on planning for the rebuilding of La Mesa Boulevard.
City staff said the project is moving ahead and that funding is falling in place for the estimated $5-million dollar project, but it was clear the political tensions around questions of how the newly redesigned street would be maintained are still at play.
The staff reviewed those"betterments'' that would need to be eliminated from the project if a public-private funding mechanism isn't in place to help fund on-going maintenance. City Manager Dave Witt said, in response to questions from Council members Ernie Ewin and Ruth Sterling, that the staff would be able to develop a specific cost for maintaining the elements that would require maintenance above and beyond the city's normal street maintainance in the city.
Mayor Art Madrid and critics of the proposed Property Based Improvement District have been jousting about whether the full street scape project can go forward even without approval of the PBID, which critics have charged is too expensive for the merchants and property owners.
Madrid wasn't backing down, however, and said last night that state and federal financial problems or continued unwillingness of Village property owners and merchants to contribute to maintaining the city's potential investment could still be speed bumps in this project's way.
"If the people in the rest of La Mesa think we're just subsidizing improvements for a four and a half block area in one part of town, they're going to go ballistic,'' Madrid said.
City Council candidate Patrick Dean addressed the council briefly, encouraging the panel to develop a "Plan B'' for that public-private partnership because the PBID doesn't appear likely to pass in time if at all.