Santa Paula Times

Planning Commission approves banquet hall on Main Street

March 28, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula Times  One Planning Commissioner was for it from the get-go while three expressed serious doubts, but in the end La Terraza was granted permission to open a banquet facility next to it’s existing Main Street eatery.

Adan Sandoval, owner of La Terraza (1000 E. Main St.), was seeking a permit to expand the use of his restaurant into the adjacent 6,520 square-foot vacant commercial building, a former furniture store.

Sandoval also is seeking to expand the use of his existing beer and wine license for the new facility to be used for private parties and celebrations, as well as public Sunday brunches featuring Mariachi bands. 

Associate Planner Caesar Hernandez told commissioners at the March 25 meeting that representatives of Sandoval met with the Santa Paula Downtown Merchants Association (DTMA) to go over the plans and address any concerns of the new use of the large building.

La Terraza, he noted, has no history of complaints or ABC liquor violations and has been a “good business neighbor” for over 25 years. 

The DTMA was supportive overall, but noted parking remains a concern as well as hours of operation and recommended that the venue stop service at midnight.

Several commissioners noted they counted spaces and found them far short of a consultant’s parking study.

Commissioner John Wisda asked if city staff verified “any of these numbers... I drove and counted,” and available parking reported was inflated.

“I also counted on Davis Street,” said Commissioner Fred Robinson, and the number of available spaces are far short of the report.

Wisda also questioned hours of beer/wine service and sound control, the former set at 12:30 a.m. to allow closure and cleanup by a final time of 2 a.m.

“I did a survey,” said Commissioner Chairman Mike Sommer, who noted alcoholic beverage service and operations end at midnight at the Community Center and Casa Del Mexicano and 12:30 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall; entertainment end times also varied.

Sommer urged liquor service and closing hours be inline with other establishments before he questioned security and noted the requirements set on other venues.

Jaime Sandoval told commissioners the family-which also operated El Taco Loco-has operated other banquet venues and would like to stay open later.

The applicant is asking for a room capacity of 300-a number to be finalized by city fire- and Sandoval said, “We have been catering for Santa Paula and Oxnard and are familiar with handling those numbers of people in one location.

“We feel we can bring people from out of town to enhance the downtown... we are very interested in the tourism of Santa Paula,” and envisions the hall could be sought as a filming location.

Jaime Sandoval said he managed the vendors for Santa Barbara’s Earl Warren Showground: “What I bring to the table and what my brother brings to the table,” would benefit the family as well as the community.

Santa Paula is “growing in the next five years,” and the Sandoval family business wants to grow with the city.

Wisda asked about liability and insurance issues and security.

Sandoval said insurance coverage would be high and a professional company would be handling security.

The layout shown to the commission said Wisda “all seems to be pushed to one end,” and Sandoval said providing handicapped access and other issues dictated layout.

Wisda said the layout, parking deficiencies and “Having an empty storefront four or five days a week,” bothered him.

There are expectations of hosting meetings and smaller banquets during the week said Sandoval.

Wisda questioned water usage and project manager Pedro Garcia said “green” practices would be adhered to with low-flow fixtures and toilets to conserve water.

“When I saw this on the agenda I was pretty excited,” said Robinson who complimented La Terraza where he said he likes to dine.

He noted with Logsdon’s now closed and no potential reuse of its banquet area venues for such use has been limited.

The new facility “Would be nice... you folks have been good business people, good neighbors,” but parking “is a very, very sensitive issue,” in the downtown where it is limited.

Robinson said the parking study “bothered me a lot” and he does not think people would want to walk blocks to the banquet hall.

He also noted that 60 parking spaces across the street from the restaurant just east of the California Oil Museum is not a sure thing for public use.

“I don’t think you can really count on those parking spaces to be honest,” and he noted parking “is my number one issue... “

Parking said a restaurant representative does free up in the immediate area in the evening when nearby businesses close.

Soundproofing and parking must be addressed as well as food service that requires passing through an exterior courtyard, said Sommer, and, “I think this has a lot of promise but I think there are some hills we have to climb.” 

During public comment Cathy Hicks said the late hours and the parking concerned her especially as her past experience with public events have shown, “If there’s no parking people aren’t going to stay... 

“There will be no taxes coming in,” and Hicks said noise would also be an issue.

Patty Kodenko noted the family’s nearby auto parts store and concern about parking: “We will be liable if they park in our lot,” and she expects with a capacity of 300 people it would bring as many as 150 cars to the immediate area.

“I’ve been here 20 some years,” and Commissioner Ike Ikerd said he is a La Terraza customer and “enjoy it... frankly I’m pretty excited about the project.”

Parking he noted, is often hard to find in the downtown but people do park and come in for events such as Cruise Nite.  

The parking issue, said Ikerd, “Can be figured out,” and he has no objections to music “I’ve heard since I’ve lived here in town... it’s never bothered me, it’s folks having a good time.”

Staff, he added, can resolve issues addressed.

“I am inclined to support you,” said Robinson, “there are no perfect projects,” and parking must still be addressed, but “without economic activity the city will never flourish... despite some serious reservations I’m going to support you on this.”

Sommer said the parking report “is bogus” and other issues must be reexamined including hours of operation that should mirror other establishments.

“I’m in favor of the project but how people will get from point A to point B,” still must be examined including the possible use of shuttles.

Hernandez said such shuttle service is being addressed.

“Downtown has challenges and will have challenges,” that will be revisited as the project goes through channels. 

Sommer asked if the commission was comfortable and after some more comment the full commission supported the project 4-0 albeit with changes to hours of operation and other caveats, including required updates on the progress of the project.

Planning Commissioner John Demers was absent from the meeting.