Breweries and Firework Factories

If you have ever been to Houston, you have witnessed the hot mess that the lack of zoning has bestowed upon that humid, sprawling city.  Without restrictions on what can be put where, you can get things like firework factories next to refineries or rollercoasters next to houses.  While the breweries of Houston likely benefit from this lack for regulation, in basically every other city, breweries (and everyone else) must follow the restrictions on land use and zoning.  Last week, I visited the fine people at the City of Pasadena to verify what I thought I already knew about breweries and where they are allowed to locate.  I came away surprised (and pleased) at what I was told.

Up until last week, I had been under the impression that breweries were considered the most awful of industrial uses by the City.  I was under this impression because I was told this a while back.  Let’s just say, there appears to be some subjectivity in land use designations.  This put breweries of any size on par with slaughterhouses and relegated them to industrial zones.  While I disagreed with this definition, I had come to accept that my location search would be limited to the few industrial areas in the City.  After a very helpful city planner did some research and analysis, he sent me a very detailed determination.  Rather than bore you to death with code excepts, here is the simplified explanation (Note - this is only for Pasadena, other cities will have other rules):

  • If the brewery is under 5,000sf, it can locate in the industrial or “commercial general” zones without any planning permits.  In other words, if I planned to open a small brewery without taproom, I could do so by-right in many parts of the city.

  • If the brewery is over 5,000sf, it can still locate in those two zones, but a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is required.

  • If you want to have a taproom with your brewery (which you do) then that will require 2 CUPs - for a change of use and for onsite/offsite alcohol sales.

  • If you want to be classified as a restaurant (which opens up additional areas in the City in which you can locate and reduces the required number of CUPs) there are requirements on bar size as a percentage of the overall seating area.

So what does this all mean for Wild Parrot you ask?  First of all, it means commercial zones are in play for each of the 3 alternatives.  Yippee!  It also means that adding a food component is not necessary for locating in a commercial zone, though it is a good idea for other reasons.  Finally, it means that locating in a space that is over 5,000sf will mean a whole lotta permits.  As always, the more information you get, the more questions you have, so now I need to look into how serving food affects the permitting process with other City agencies.  Early guess = tons of permits costing thousands of dollars.