Mark Sundermeyer typically closes out weeknights in his L Street Lofts condominium by watching TV at a low volume, brushing his teeth and joining his wife, Colleen, in bed. In the last month, he's added another step to his routine: donning Bose white noise headphones in an attempt to drown out the noise emanating from Golden Road Brewing six stories below.
When Golden Road replaced City Suds laundromat at 1830 L St. in May, Sundermeyer thought it'd be another speck of nightlife on a block with several moderately upscale restaurants and bars — the same amenities that prompted him and Colleen to move to midtown after spending the last 29 years in Greenhaven and Rancho Murieta. Instead, he'll spend the summer listening to revelers and amplified music through closed windows.
"It's just a wild party out there many nights a week. It'll be 1:30 in the morning sometimes and you hear someone screaming or yelling," said Sundermeyer, 61. "I was thinking about (Der) Biergarten on K Street, some place where people gather and have a few beers. I didn't know (Golden Road) was going to be a crazy party place."
Several of Sundermeyer's neighbors feel the same way, including homeowner association president Mike Cook. Enough do, in fact, that city officials and state alcohol regulators set up a meeting for Thursday to try to broker a peace agreement between Golden Road and L Street Lofts residents. Ultimately, though, the city may be trying to solve a problem it helped create.
Prospective businesses looking to serve booze in Sacramento must apply for a California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control license. The application is then forwarded to the Sacramento Police Department and city councilmember whose district it falls in for review. The councilmember and police frequently add restrictions such as early closing times before 2 a.m. prior to sending the application back to the ABC for final approval.
In this case, Vice Mayor Steve Hansen said, his office and police failed to properly condition Golden Road's license with appropriate hours. Unlike other open-air bars on the grid such as Der Biergarten, Urban Roots and Midtown Cantina Alley that close at 10 p.m. during the workweek, Golden Road stays open until at least midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
"This particular license without conditions is unfair to local craft brewers who have opened beer gardens and are doing the same thing with far more restrictions," Hansen said. "It's out of step with how we handle active businesses like this next to residential neighborhoods. We are investigating to figure out what happened and how to fix it."
Golden Road has yet to receive a formal noise violation from the city, company director of restaurant operations Adam Levoe said. The beer garden plans to start brewing on-site in the near future, Levoe said, and hopes to eventually fill half of its 10 taps with Sacramento beers.
"In the spirit of becoming a deeper member of the Sacramento community, we will be visiting later this week to have a discussion and listen to our neighbors," Levoe wrote in an email to The Bee on Tuesday.
Sacramento Police Department spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler confirmed Golden Road's license passed through the police department without conditions being added. The license application came to the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design division's desk in January 2017, and Sgt. Bill Wann — then in charge of the unit — had no details on why conditions were not handed down, Chandler said.
Sacramento police have dealt with roughly 90 ABC permits so far this year and sometimes feel inundated by the workload, Chandler said. Wann, who is now transitioning to another unit, has acknowledged he should have focused more on the application and was planning to attend Thursday's meeting.
"He realizes now that this permit should have gotten more attention than it did originally," Chandler said. "That's why he's attending the meeting, so he can be there and work collaboratively with the people who are impacted and the business establishment."
Several prospective buyers have toured the L Street Lofts' three eastern vacancies since Golden Road opened only to turn away over noise concerns, Coldwell Banker real estate agent Michael Onstead said. Condos starting above $400,000 that were previously snapped up within 30 days now sit uninhabited until the price is dropped, Onstead said.
Onstead began leasing and selling L Street Lofts condos in 2008, and lived in the building for two years. Most of his clients enjoy dining at nearby eateries such as Crepeville, Broderick Roadhouse or Aioli but don't have much interest in raucous parties to the east.
"The Lofts, frankly, was in a highly desirable residential neighborhood because (it) had all kinds of restaurants and places to shop but no nightclub-type places," he said. "Then to all of sudden take a look at the neighborhood and approve this sort of operation, it just seems to go against common sense."
Golden Road's license is up for renewal on March 31, 2019, according to ABC records. Licenses can't be slapped with additional conditions once approved for the first time unless there's a change in ownership or repeated run-ins with law enforcement, ABC spokesman Brad Beach.
With after-the-fact changes to Golden Road's license unlikely, Sundermayer wants the brewery to erect something like a highway wall between its blue shipping containers and his building.
"I'm not asking them to change their business. I just want them not to have their business in my home," he said.
The Bee's Benjy Egel is launching a new effort to cover Sacramento's dining and beer scene. Please send tips and story ideas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BenjyEgel or by phone at (916) 321-1052.