Planning Commissioners on Thursday narrowly approved a proposal for a microbrewery and restaurant inside the building currently owned and used by bagmaker Timbuk2 at 20th and Shotwell streets.
The approval is contingent on the brewpub operator mitigating noise from the pub and smell from the brewing, closing at 10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends, having a loading zone for car drop-offs, and using at least a third of their space for actual brewing.
Throughout the concerns raised about the project, a common thread emerged: opponents said there is too much alcohol in the Mission already, and especially so in this neighborhood near John O’ Connell High School.
Angelica Perez, a neighbor, began by listing the existing bars in the neighborhood. Shotwell’s is directly across the street from the proposed site. Southern Pacific Brewing Company, Bender’s, and the Homestead are all within roughly a block of the site as well.
“We have herds of people coming in Thursday through Sunday. It’s like a frat party got dropped off there,” Perez said. “We’re not a Vegas strip. This is not a Disneyland for adults … We’re being inundated there.”
New liquor licenses are already strictly controlled in the neighborhood, Erick Arguello of the Calle 24 Latino Cultural Corridor pointed out, but many new alcohol-serving businesses have arrived, using beer and wine licenses tied to restaurants. Those come with a requirement that a majority of a business’ revenues come from food, not alcohol, sales — a requirement Arguello said is not being enforced.
“We’re not prohibitionists,” he said, but “this is an area that historically has been inundated with liquor.”
John O’Connell high school is also within a block of the proposed brewpub.
“You’re really surrounding the school with breweries,” said Mary Mendoza, a nearby resident who said she had once taught at the high school.
The Fort Point location stands out from existing nearby bars and pubs, in that it allows all ages to enter, even if they are not going to actually drink because they are too young. The purpose of that was to create a family-friendly, inviting environment that dissuades barflies or partiers who hang around and get excessively drunk.
But that did not win over Commissioner Myrna Melgar, who also heads a nonprofit for youth called Jamestown Community Center. Rather, she said the project alarmed her because it normalizes alcohol use in a neighborhood already saturated with it — one that also sees problems with underage alcohol abuse.
The all-ages entry “really worries me,” she said. “That is indicative that you don’t understand the community where you’re trying to open up this bar.”
Other concerns centered on the loss of trade shop space — retail attached to light manufacturing — for the sake of a de facto restaurant and bar. Neighbors also feared an influx of ride-hailing cars bringing patrons to fill more than 100 seats planned for the pub.
“We’re very concerned about the Ubers and the rideshares that presently block the crosswalk,” said one neighbor.
In the end, however, the status of Fort Point and Timbuk2, which would be the brewery’s landlord, as locally owned manufacturing businesses that might bring local jobs, seemed to win out.
“Largely, I do think there’s value in a San Francisco company,” said Commissioner Rodney Fong. “I can see people there with dogs and families and watching a Warriors game and having a bite to eat and a little bit of a communal center.”
Head brewer Mike Schnebeck brought up the company’s brewery technician program, and one employee praised the company for giving him the opportunity to work in a trade.
“A big focus of mine and something that’s extremely important to me was to create jobs meaningful to the people that have them,” Schnebeck said.
After adding the conditions, commissioners voted 4-3 to approve the brewpub — Commissioners Christine Johnson, Melgar and Dennis Richards voted against it.