Long Beach community members upset after proposal for distillery next to school

R6 Distillery is planning to open their second location on Golden Avenue next to Edison Elementary in Long Beach.

Jaysha Patel Image
Friday, September 30, 2022
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R6 Distillery is planning to open their second location on Golden Avenue next to Edison Elementary in Long Beach.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Long Beach residents gathered on Thursday to voice their concerns after the city says there was a proposal for a distillery across the street from Edison Elementary School on Golden Avenue in downtown Long Beach.

El Segundo-based veteran and family-owned business, R6 Distillery, is planning to open their second location at the warehouse there with the city's approval.

Community members say they are upset about the lack of transparency around the project and the potential for more alcohol sales in the community.

They say they have gotten no response from the city about their concerns, and that they were blindsided when they heard about the plan from an article.

Eyewitness News reached out to R6 Distillery about their response to community members.

In a statement founder and head distiller, Rob Rubens, said:

"R6 Distillery is a veteran and family-owned small business based out of El Segundo. We are excited to become an integral part of the Long Beach Community and the Long Beach Downtown PD-30 revitalization zone with our expansion project at 601 Golden Avenue.

After almost a year of deliberate and careful searching for expansion of the El Segundo plant, we were excited to find 601 Golden Avenue in Long Beach. We proactively met with Edison Elementary School leadership to discuss our plans before signing our long-term lease. Our project at 601 Golden will not only help accelerate the gentrification of the area adjacent Edison Elementary and west Long Beach, where there are currently a number of homeless and transients with drug addiction, but also provide more than 30 jobs for the community and help do its part to keep the adjacent park clean. The R6 Golden Avenue expansion is primarily a manufacturing plant and has a Phase Two plan for an ancillary tasting room. This is a tremendous $11+ M investment for our family and veteran owned company, and we are thrilled to be a good neighbor and partner in the Long Beach community."

Eyewitness News also reached out to a spokesperson with the Long Beach Unified School District who said their planning department is working with the city to determine how the project was approved, and they are looking at next steps to oppose it.

The Long Beach Development Services Department said in a statement:

"The distillery is only a proposal at this point. The City had received an administrative request and preliminary plans for this location, which were posted and became publicly available on the Department website in December 2021. The City has not received any application for an Administrative or Conditional Use Permit at this location. No approval for more than 6,000 feet has been issued and no building permit has been issued.

The Administrative or Conditional Use Permit is the only discretionary approval required. However, ministerial building permits and a business license would also be required. The applicant would also be required to obtain an alcohol license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

In general, the Department carefully evaluates any proposal received for compliance with the adopted regulations and processes them accordingly. As background, the City Council last updated the City's regulations pertaining to Alcoholic Beverage Manufacturing (ABM) and accessory tasting room uses in November 2016. The ordinance allowed for alcoholic beverage manufacturing facilities and accessory tasting rooms to operate in commercial zones within the city either by right or subject to an Administrative Use Permit. The ABM regulations include provisions such as a required 500-foot buffer around schools unless located in PD-30 (Downtown Plan) or with approval of a Conditional Use Permit. The ordinance also established regulations pertaining to the hours of operation, floor area limitations, and parking requirements.

The City follows the Municipal Code procedures on all applications. The ministerial decision related to allowing a by-right use and location does not result in a public forum, but that information is shared on the Department's website. Discretionary approvals such as Administrative Use Permits and Conditional Use Permits result in a more extensive noticing and hearing process."

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