Early Nights in San Roque Neighborhood

Beverages and More! May Have 9 p.m. Curfew

BEVMO! Can a large, busy liquor store be compatible with a San Roque residential neighborhood? Can a large retail market live with a (gasp!) 9 p.m. closing restriction?

Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez wants Beverages & More! to close the doors at its proposed Upper State Street location at nine o’clock, just about when the parties are rolling and liquid reinforcements are needed. You’d think that that BevMo! would be screaming bloody murder, but no.

Barney Brantingham

No problem, BevMo! vice president Jeff Sealy told me. Nine is fine, he said, because the chain is not a regular liquor store that sells booze late into the early morning hours.  BevMo! doesn’t sell cigarettes or girlie mags, either, Sealy said.

On one hand, BevMo!’s proposed location at 3052 State St., in the former Thomasville Home Furnishing building, fronts busy commercial Upper State Street. But it also backs up to single-family homes, separated by an alley.

Nearby resident Jerry Vigil says he’s sent protest petitions with around 150 names to the Santa Barbara City Council and California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), claiming that another liquor store in an area overloaded with them is incompatible with the neighborhood.

Chief Sanchez told ABC that his department “conditionally protests” issuing the liquor license unless certain conditions are met, including the 9 p.m. closing, “due to the potential impact on an area with an existing high concentration of liquor licenses.”

However, Sanchez said, the police protest would be withdrawn if the BevMo! chain also agrees to no live entertainment or dancing; parking lot lighting of sufficient power for security but not a disturbance to neighbors; no minors allowed inside unless accompanied by a patron 21 or older; no wine with an alcohol content greater than 20 percent sold except for certain ports; and restrictions on large containers.

At a recent hearing, the city’s Architectural Board of Review (ABR) gave the project conditional approval and told protesters that it had no jurisdiction over use of the former furniture store but will come up with delivery-hour restrictions. Vigil ridiculed one ABR member who, he said, with a dog on her lap, proposed that neighbors shield themselves from the store’s noise by planting landscaping. A weak defense, Vigil said, especially considering height limits on hedges.

On a split vote, the ABR decided against requiring a front entrance (which one member said would enhance a “walking neighborhood”) instead of the current side door closer to homes.

The ABC says it is still investigating the license issue and that a hearing would be set based on protests.

CHARGES GALORE: It’s the nastiest Santa Barbara District Attorney’s race in at least 50 years, maybe a century or more. Deputy DAs Josh Lynn and Joyce Dudley are hurling so many accusations at one another that the public may wonder whether either is qualified for the job. The department itself is split wide open over who will take over for retired DA Christie Stanley, and morale is lower than a Chapala Street pothole. After all the brickbats being tossed, it’s hard to imagine the June 8 loser will want to stay in the department. In fact, Dudley hinted pretty strongly that if she wins, she might not want to keep Lynn around.

Coming back to haunt the DA’s office is the question of why it took 92 days after the disastrous 2008 Tea Fire to announce whom to prosecute and what the charge should be. After a delay that frustrated the community, 10 students were finally charged with misdemeanors but not with responsibility for causing the blaze that destroyed 230 homes.

HERZOG ON FILM: UCSB’s Campbell Hall was jammed with movie buffs, heads full of cinema lore, aficionados who seemed to have seen every flick ever made. They were there to hear filmmaker Werner Herzog be interviewed by writer Pico Iyer. Confessed Herzog, “I don’t see many movies, maybe two or three a year.” Although there are dozens of festivals, “There are only three or four good films a year,” he said.

WATSON & SHERLOCK: Up at the Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre, producers Susie and David Couch are offering a black comedy with a twisted look at the once-comfortable relationship between Sherlock Holmes and plodding sidekick Dr. Watson. Sherlock’s Last Case finds Holmes (Sean O’Shea) dealing with a very different Watson (David Couch), indeed.

CRIMES OF THE HEART: It’s sometimes jokingly referred to as Hannah and Her Sisters with a Southern drawl, but there’s nothing Woody Allen about Crimes of the Heart. Opening April 21 at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre, Beth Henley’s Pulitzer winner deals with three sisters who reunite after one shoots her abusive husband. Just ended was the Rubicon’s Trying, a touching play about a curmudgeon and his spunky secretary, beautifully performed by real-life father-daughter team Robin Gammell and Winslow Corbett.

IS CONGRESS FUNNY? Congress may make you want to cry, but there’s comic relief coming in the form of Capitol Steps. The troupe of ex-congressional staffers satirizes D.C. capers. Playing the Lobero, April 28-29.


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