Roswell Street is a quiet lane with a mix of residences and small businesses in Los Angeles' Glassell Park neighborhood. Among this quiet community is Eagle Rock Brewery, which opened amid uncertainty over whether it could capitalize on L.A.'s nascent craft brew scene, but which is now thriving, with a loyal clientele and regular community events.
Eagle Rock Brewery is so successful that its owners plan to open a related brew pub, Eagle Rock Public House.
Yet the city of L.A. has made Eagle Rock Brewery show up to four public hearings in five years - the most recent one just two weeks ago - just to determine if the brewery should continue to operate, despite the fact that there have been no issues or complaints from neigbors, city officials or other customers since its opening in 2009. Eagle Rock Brewery has instead fallen victim to L.A's inefficient, costly and strict bureaucracy.
In 2008, the owner of the building across the street from Eagle Rock Brewery is located filed a complaint with the city, saying that the business would create parking issues, noise and even attract gang activity to the neighborhood. As a result, the L.A. Zoning Administration changed the brewery's 10-year permit to a five-year one, and also required the extra public hearings, which cost the owners around $8000 to organize.
However, the owners have gone along with these bureaucratic hoops, and have operated responsibly - cutting down on noise and parking issues, making sure that underage drinking doesn't happen at all at their taproom - and have sponsored a variety of community events like a breast cancer research fundraiser and a regular women's beer forum. Neighboring business owners either have no problem with the brewery or love them. Jennie Cook, who owns a catering company nearby, told us that she points customers towards the brewery and always orders beer from them for her business's annual party.
We also tracked down the building owner who filed the initial complaint to find out what he thought of Eagle Rock Brewery now. He would only give his name as Stan. "I wasted so much time and money opposing the brewery," he said. "It was like I was guilty before I even walked in[to the first public hearing]. I don't even deal with the city anymore. So as long as my tenants have no complaints, I won't oppose them."
Around 50 people showed up in support of Eagle Rock Brewery at its most recent hearing. Owner Jeremy Raub asked them to extend their permit without subjecting them to any more public hearings. The brewery will hear soon from the city about its final decision.
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