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City Council approves downtown distilleries, breweries and winemaking 

New zoning will allow crafted beer, wine and spirits to be consumed on the premises.

Rezoning area northeast of the city park also allows ground-floor offices

–The Paso Robles City Council approved changes to downtown zoning at the Jan 16 meeting. The rezoning of an area northeast of the city park allows for distilleries, breweries and winemaking, which were previously barred under the original Town Center-1 (TC-1) zoning. The council also approved zoning changes to allow wine tasting at the future Paso Market Place.

The rezoned area spans from mid-block to mid-block between 13th Street and 15th Street, and mid-block between Spring Street and Park Street to the Union Pacific Railroad. The staff report describes the area as, “an area that does not appear to be trending toward significant pedestrian activity,” making the change to Town Center-2 (TC-2) zoning acceptable. There has also been an interest by private property owners in the rezoned area to permit offices on the ground floor in the front of the buildings.

The city blocks northeast of the city park will be rezoned from TC-1 to TC-2.

The staff report recommended the zoning change due to an increase in mixed-use micro-production facilities in other downtown districts. The city staff report said, “They also tend to be compatible with surrounding restaurants and entertainment uses and add to a vibrant downtown atmosphere.” The report also noted that because of the smaller scale of micro facilities, typical production impacts like “significant wastewater pre-treatment, truck traffic, or outdoor storage of materials” could be avoided. All wineries proposed in the downtown zones will require a conditional use permit, and so will any distillery or brewery larger than 10,000 square feet.

City Planner Susan DeCarli said the zoning change was in response to inquiries and interest from small craft and artisanal producers as well as the public. The success of similar operations such as Atascadero’s Tent City and SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo were also a factor in the zoning change.

The craft and artisanal production of beer, spirits and wine have been taking root in North County for some time. The record-breaking attendance at last November’s seventh annual micro-winery Garagiste Wine Festival could be taken as one indicator of the success of craft and artisanal production in Paso Robles. The Paso Robles Distillery Trail, a relative new addition to the area’s wine tasting trails and Tin City being described as “one of the hottest sipping destinations” by the San Jose Mercury News are even more indicators. Tin City, located in the industrial area accessed by Ramada Drive and Marquita Avenue is a growing multi- building complex that houses craft and artisanal winemakers, breweries, a cider maker and a local sheep dairy creamery.

Craft breweries are also growing contributors to the local economy. The Central Coast Brewer’s Guild lists at least 46 breweries on the Central Coast, some with multiple locations. The California Craft Brewer’s Association reports that California leads the nation in craft breweries. “In 2016, craft breweries contributed $7.3 billion to the state’s economy, up from $6.5 in 2014. The industry supports more than 49,308 jobs across the state.”

There will be a public hearing and a second reading of the ordinance at the Feb 6 council meeting. Regular City Council meetings are held the first and third Tuesdays of most months, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Paso Robles City Library conference room, 1000 Spring Street.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.