The Imperial Beach City council approved plans on June 16 for the opening of Pizza Port, a brew pub with six locations, one as far as San Clemente. Pizza Port which serves, pizza, munchies and salads will be located at 204 Palm Avenue, in a building that formerly housed a café and a hair salon.
While the square footage of the building will remain the same, improvements will be made on the interior and exterior to create Pizza Port. The project is located in a C/MU-2 zone, (commercial and mixed use.) Outdoor seating areas for patrons are planned on the south and east sides and more improvements include a new trash enclosure, a walk in refrigerator behind the building on the north side, and outdoor fermenters on the east. Based on the rendering, eight outdoor fermenters are going to be stacked. Each are 48” in diameter and are covered by a sloped corrugated metal roof. The beer produced on site will be served at the eatery and is not meant for distribution to other locations. Both the architect and the owner ensured the council and the public that the outdoor fermenters will not emit noise or smell.
The 3,141 square foot building will undergo façade improvements, including overhead garage windows, wooden pole fencing, palapa style umbrellas and wood trellis. The current nine parking spaces, which do not conform to code right now, will be re-striped and will result in 8 total space, of which one is ADA compliant. Based on the Design Review Board recommendations, the owner increased the landscaped area to 1,694 square feet (16.4% of the site), which would be comprised of a variety of materials that include 1,394 square feet of planted landscaping (13.5% of the site), 240 square feet of permeable artificial turf (2.3%), and a 60 square foot decomposed granite and a bicycle parking area (0.6%).
Some conditions of approval include: the windows to the east will be closed at 10 p.m. and hours of operations in the outdoor patio will be reviewed and modified by the Community Development and Public Safety departments. Noise complaints if any will be mitigated “to the satisfaction of the city.” Lighting will be placed in a manner that does not impact the neighborhood. During public comment some residents were supportive of the project, while others expressed their concerns regarding the outdoor fermenters, their possible reflection of light, and waste and byproducts of producing beer.
Architect Dustin Hauck explained that the fermenters are brushed stainless and do not reflect light. The beer is brewed inside the building and then transferred to the tanks for a time, then later back to the inside of the building into serving vessels - all done via sealed hoses. The tanks are not accessible from the outside, have fixed temperatures and beer will only be brewed twice a week. Regarding the beer waste and byproducts, Hauck explained that spent grain is the only byproduct which will be put in sealed containers and picked up by local farmers to be used for animal feed.
Councilman Jack Fisher liked the project but understood the concerns raised by residents. “We’re looking at investing in Imperial Beach, a rehabilitation without a huge build out. I understand the concerns,” he said.
“It’s our responsibility to invite new businesses. For the past 19 months most business have closed because of the pandemic…it’s our responsibility to attract businesses and embrace them…it’s better to have a business filled, not empty,” said Councilmember Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez.
Mayor Pro Tem Ed Spriggs raised the issue of parking since the lot will only have eight spaces. It was pointed out that a public parking lot is located 600 ft. away. Pizza Port Owner Gina Marsaglia explained that usually at other Pizza Port locations employees bike or ride skateboards. She expects 10 employees to be hired for the site. About the possible noise concerns it was discussed that trees, shrubs and landscaping will be helpful in shielding the neighborhood, and windows along the east side will be closed at 10 p.m.
The city council approved the resolution unanimously. Mayor Serge Dedina was absent.
The Housing Element, which has to be updates every eight years was approved. After the adoption by the council it will be reviewed by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for compliance. A special online workshop was held last summer to include comments from residents. A draft of the document was sent to HCD in January 2021 for review, and revisions were incorporated. In addition to comply with state law, the Housing Element incorporates housing needs for future growth as identified by San Diego County Association of Government’s for the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation. The RHNA numbers allocated to Imperial Beach for 2021-2029 are: 113 extremely low income units, 112 very low income,123 low income, 183 moderate income, 798 above moderate income, for a total of 1,329 units.
Housing units that are approved, pending approval or under construction from June 30, 2021 forward can be credited toward the RHNA numbers. The city has established five goals in the housing element which include: maintain, preserve and enhance existing housing but build stronger and more vibrant residential neighborhoods and expand homeownership opportunities to increase the proportion of owner occupied housing units. In addition 15 programs have been identified to address housing issues in the city which include: Housing repair loans and grants; Conservation of existing and future affordable units; Accessory dwelling units; fair housing program and by rights approval for projects with 20 percent affordable units.
Spriggs once again brought up the issue of parking in the city. “How do we reconcile [development] with the risk of becoming a high density community…the more density, the more impossible to find parking,” he said. Spriggs was concerned that if the city helps developers with parking incentives there won’t be adequate parking built. He further said he still hopes that the litigation with SANDAG over RHNA numbers will help reduce the large amount of units and the pressure to the city.
The next city council meeting will be held July 7 at 5 p.m. For more information log on www.imperialbeachca.gov.