Bootlegger's Gets The Go-Ahead For Its New Tasting Room

Council Approves A Conditional Use Permit For The Expanding Brewery.

Fans of Bootlegger's Brewery flowed into the council halls on Tuesday night along with citizens concerned about the prospect of including another license to serve alcohol within the downtown area.

Upon hearing from the opposing parties and a concerned public, council weighed unanimously in favor of approving the conditional use permit (CUP) for Bootlegger's' new tasting room, located at 130 S. Highland Avenue. The business' property is located on a manufacturing zone at the west end of the SOCO District.

Tony Bushala, a property developer and founder of FullertonsFuture.com, appealed the CUP due to possible noise concerns for neighboring residents. Bootlegger's new location will have a full occupant load of 300, yet the outdoor occupancy is 232 people (77%). The conditional use permit proposed by city planning restricts noise from being audible past 50 feet of the patio's perimeter; however, Bushala believes that this regulation cannot be enforced by the city.

"Use trumps zoning," Bushala said. "There are two single-family houses in that neighborhood that have been there for plus two-hundred years, and there was no mention at all about how the people in these houses lives will be damaged. They’ll be staying awake every night […] It’s going to be a bad situation."

Coincidentally, one of those houses had been purchased by Bushala during a foreclosure auction in May. According to Bushala, he had only heard about approving the CUP when informed by fellow blogger and newly elected Council Member Travis Kiger. Despite their ties online, Kiger voted in favor of giving Bootlegger’s the permit through his current role as a Planning Commissioner.

The proposed alternative was to limit the hours of operation. Examples of preferred operating hours were cited from other nearby breweries in Anaheim and Placentia, none of which operated past midnight. The response from the public was mixed as both proponents and opponents of the new tasting room debated the issues. On one side were the fans and employees of a growing brewery who consider themselves to be connoisseurs of an artisan craft. On the other side were those who are concerned with the destructive activities of intoxicated patrons from the downtown bars.

The neighboring Magoski family of Violet Hour spoke publicly about their skepticism with Bootlegger’s moving in, but expressed a willingness to work with their new neighbors. Their main concern is based on the enforcement of noise control, debris pickup, and traffic safety. Megan Magoski suggested adding speed bumps in the alley adjacent to Santa Fe Avenue, where their house faces.

Bootlegger’s founder, Aaron Barkenhaagen, spoke on behalf of his business and explained a bit about the history of how the company grew before assuring the public about his track record and respectful business conduct.

“I feel that the concerns that Tony (Bushala) has raised have already been addressed in CUP as it’s written. The most notable concern is the sound and the impact to the neighbors in the area. Our CUP clearly states that no sound should be heard beyond 50 feet from our establishment. Those houses are beyond 50 feet, so if you can hear something from our establishment, we’re doing something wrong and clearly not upholding the conditions of our CUP."

Barkenhaagen also noted how involved their business becomes in street cleanup through the restrictions of the CUP. Only five parking spaces currently exist on Bootlegger’s property, so Bootlegger’s has become responsible for the cleanup of off-site parking and the paths connecting them to the tasting room.

Although the permit has passed through the council, Bootlegger’s will still have to walk a fine line to stay within the restraints of its conditional use permit. If the business receives three strikes in a 12-month period for failure to meet code, it stands to have its permit restricted further or pulled entirely.

Barkenhaagen started Bootlegger’s Brewery five years ago in an industial unit that he rented from Bushala. Since it started, Bootlegger’s expanded into neighboring units that had previously been empty. It now holds more than 1,000 accounts with clients like Angel Stadium, Albertsons, BevMo and several Fullerton watering holes. Bootlegger’s will now make plans for its new tasting room, and additionally it will move its main brewing operation to a larger space located within one of the industrial complexes off Raymond Ave.

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