More beer — 2 new microbreweries approved in Costa Mesa

Salty Bear Brewing Co. and Brewing Reserve of California won approval from the Costa Mesa Planning Commission on Monday night.
(Tobias Hase / AFP/Getty Images)

Raise those glasses, beer lovers: Two new microbreweries will soon call Costa Mesa home following a pair of Planning Commission votes Monday night.

Salty Bear Brewing Co. plans to move into about 3,200 square feet of space at 2948 Randolph Ave., while Brewing Reserve of California will occupy 3,000 square feet at 2930 College Ave. Both sites are multi-tenant complexes.

The locations are the first for both breweries.

The Planning Commission’s decisions are final unless appealed to the City Council within seven days.

Both businesses will brew beer onsite and have designated tasting rooms.

A planned pedestrian path would link the Salty Bear property with The Camp commercial center just to the east on Bristol Street.

A patio for the microbrewery, along with a common outdoor space with seating, a shade structure and campfire area also are planned.

“It is a true passion of mine, and I’m trying to operate a business that will enable my family to remain in Costa Mesa and also be an active part of the Costa Mesa community,” said Salty Bear owner Joe Scagliotti.

Though commissioners and members of the public largely spoke in favor of the application, some questions were raised regarding the proposed parking plan for the Randolph site.

Under an agreed-to land-use restriction, tenant spaces on the property that are currently vacant would have to remain unfilled until the city approves a comprehensive parking plan for the site.

Commissioner Carla Navarro Woods noted that parking was a major concern raised last month when the commission approved a Bootlegger’s Brewery branch at 696 Randolph Ave.

Approving a new business before firming up the parking plan, she said, may be “putting the cart before the horse.”

“Why are we not resolving the parking issues before we establish a soon-to-be-very-successful business?” she asked.

Commission Vice Chairman Byron de Arakal said he views the land-use restriction as a tool that allows development of one piece in a bigger-picture vision for the city’s Sobeca district, a 39-acre area around The Camp and The Lab shopping centers on Bristol.

“I think the brilliant concept is to create a pedestrian linkage from The Camp to this,” he said. “If you watch, as more projects come forward in this area, you’re going to see that linkage continue. … That’s what’s really exciting to me about what’s going on with Sobeca.”

Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve Salty Bear’s application. Commissioner Jeffrey Harlan was absent.

The commission approved Brewing Reserve of California on a 3-1 vote.

Navarro Woods dissented, noting that a Spanish-language Alcoholics Anonymous group meets regularly in a space at 2930 College Ave.

Several public speakers raised concerns with where the business will be located, pointing out that it’s close to residential areas that could be affected by noise from the brewing operation or patrons leaving late at night.

Others said they’re worried the microbrewery might worsen parking or traffic flow in the area.

Steve Aguilar, one of Brewing Reserve’s owners, told the commission that he tailored his planned operation to lessen possible effects on the surrounding area.

“We don’t want to start a bar; our idea isn’t to have people come drink, get drunk and be disorderly or anything like that,” he said. “We create craft beer. It is an art to us, and we want to share that with other people.”

Commission Chairman Stephan Andranian said he understands there are concerns but that he doesn’t view this “as the same thing as your local dive bar.”

“That’s not what this applicant is trying to do. ... I don’t believe that’s in the cards,” he said.

Along with the approvals for Salty Bear, Brewing Reserve and Bootlegger’s Brewery, three other microbreweries are already open in Costa Mesa — Gunwhale Ales and Barley Forge Brewing Co. on Randolph and Karl Strauss Brewing Co. on South Coast Drive.

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