Brewery gets OK to host Oktoberfest

DOWNEY - The owners of Downey Brewing Company received permission from the Planning Commission on Wednesday to operate an Oktoberfest celebration next month in the business's parking lot.A split planning commission voted 3-2 to grant Sergio and Walter Vazquez the special event permit, with the stipulation that live music conclude by 10:30 p.m. Commissioners Robert Kiefer and Michael Murray cast dissenting votes because they said live music should end at 10 p.m. Allowing live music outside could disrupt neighbors and set a precedent for other downtown businesses, they said. Up to 300 people are expected to attend the Oct. 15 event. The brewery's parking lot will be surrounded by a temporary chain-link fence to secure the party, which will include a traditional German band and beer garden with beer dispensers set up in various locations. Downey Brewing Company is selling 200 advance sale admission tickets, but will have an additional 100 tickets for walk-up customers, said Sergio Vazquez. "It's a little taste of Munich, Germany which we're trying to offer to citizens of Downey," he said. Since the celebration will take place in the parking lot, Vazquez said he will apply for a permit to reserve a city parking lot about a block away. City planners said Wednesday that shouldn't be a problem. The event is scheduled to end at 11 p.m. although the brewery will remain open until 2 a.m. Vazquez originally requested live music until 11 p.m., but planning commissioners worried an outdoor band could cause disruption to nearby residents. "Out of respect for their neighbors I think 10 p.m. is a good time (to end the music)," said Murray. "I can hear the Downey High School band from my house (in south Downey) during football games. The music just resonates through the streets." Kiefer agreed, and said he worried about setting a precedent for other downtown businesses. "I'm 100 percent German decent so Oktoberfest, yeah, I'm in favor of that," Kiefer joked. "But I'm worried we're setting a precedent here." Commissioner Louis Morales said he was willing to compromise at 10:30 p.m. because Downey Brewing Company has held similar events in the past with minimal complaints from residents. "To help build the event and given the type of music - I don't see it as being real deep bass or dancing music where it will resonate through the area - I'm OK with compromising at 10:30 p.m.," Morales said. Commissioner Hector Lujan also was willing to compromise on the time, especially because of the traditional German music scheduled to perform. "I'm a teacher, so I like things that help our culture," he said. Commissioner Ernie Garcia cast the deciding vote, and agreed to a 10:30 p.m. compromise. Vazquez said if Oktoberfest is a success, he plans to make it an annual event. "We will have at least three security guards, checking bags, making sure everything is OK," he said. "I do plan to have more of these events so it's important to have good relations with our neighbors."

********** Published: September 22, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 23