Bootlegger’s brews a location in Costa Mesa after Planning Commission approval

(Daily Pilot)

Another microbrewery is on tap for Costa Mesa after the city Planning Commission approved a proposal to open a Bootlegger’s Brewery next to The Lab commercial center.

Despite some queasiness with how the business might exacerbate parking woes in the area, commissioners voted 3-0 on Monday to allow Bootlegger’s to move into 2,703 square feet of existing building space at 696 Randolph Ave.

Commission Chairman Stephan Andranian and member Jeffrey Harlan were absent from the meeting.

The commission’s decision is final unless appealed to the City Council within seven days.

The Costa Mesa property will be the third Bootlegger’s location, joining sites in Fullerton and Redlands.

“I feel confident saying that we’re good operators — we’re responsible operators,” Bootlegger’s owner Aaron Barkenhagen said Monday. “We have a track record to prove it.”

Along with room for brewing, storage and office space, the location will include a 745-square-foot tasting room and a 295-square-foot outdoor patio.

The approved hours of operation are 10 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Vehicles will access the site through The Lab, which is immediately to the north. The existing driveway that provides public vehicle access to the property from Randolph will be closed off and instead used as a pedestrian paseo.

During Monday’s hearing, some residents and nearby business owners expressed concerns with opening another alcohol-serving establishment, saying there are already issues with public drunkenness and littering in the area.

By far the biggest objection, though, was over parking.

Visitors to Bootlegger’s would be able to park in a small onsite lot as well as two nearby lots used by The Lab at 700 and 710 Randolph Ave.

Though the spaces available are sufficient to satisfy city code requirements, some said the reality is that parking already can be difficult — if not impossible — to find given the popularity of The Lab, The Camp and other nearby businesses.

Commissioner Carla Navarro Woods said “parking is just horrible” in that area of town.

“It’s hard to not evaluate this project based on the parking constraints there because it’s just impossible to separate the two,” she said.

As part of their vote, commissioners directed Bootlegger’s and The Lab to develop a parking management plan for the area that will be brought back for commission review.

Such a plan could include wider use of valet parking to allow more cars in available spaces.

Commissioners also asked city staff to look at implementing a two-hour parking zone on Randolph near the Bootlegger’s site, as there’s currently no limit on how long vehicles can stay there.

Commissioner Isabell Kerins said the city also should look into developing a parking structure to address longer-term issues.

“I think that would really help the situation in this entire region,” she said.

Should the parking situation prove unworkable, the commission has the option of revoking the microbrewery’s permit, Vice Chairman Byron de Arakal said.

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