City of Sonora Planning Commission Meeting

5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, 2019

Sonora City Hall Council Chambers 94 N. Washington Street, Sonora

The owner of Sonora Brewing Co. is scheduled to appear before the Sonora Planning Commission Monday to make the case for keeping a large mural depicting brewing equipment on an outside wall of the business.

Thomas Silva said he didn’t know he was supposed to apply for a permit before painting the side of 28 S. Washington St., but he believes it should be permitted because it brings some life to downtown.

The Tuolumne Heritage Committee has expressed its opposition.

Sharon Marovich, who chairs the committee, said the committee doesn’t want to discourage new business but believes the display is advertising, not a mural.

“It depicts equipment that directly relates to what that business sells,” she said.

She said the city’s design review ordinance states murals are not intended to draw attention to products or services and are, therefore, considered public art.

The committee decided to voice opposition because they do not want anything to stand in the way of, one day, the downtown being named a historic district.

In his application, Silva said, “The mural captures an activity that has been enjoyed since the nineteen hundreds here in our community.”

He submitted several historic photos showing the city’s drinking history.

There’s Family Liquor Store, Doyle’s Saloon, Buffalo Brewing Company delivery wagon and Fred Kelly’s Livery Feed and Sale Stable, where apparently there was more to the place than horses. One photo shows a huge group standing outside the business with advertisements for hay and barley alongside Lager Beer and Standard Beer.

“Highlighting history is important as my family and staff continue to build on a long established tradition with the families and visitors of Tuolumne County,” Silva said in his application. “This mural will be a constant reminder during events such as 2nd Saturday Art Night, Sonora Certified Farmers' Market, Magic of the Night, Sonora's Christmas Parade, and many others of the longstanding comradery our community stands for.”

The Tuolumne Heritage Committee has suggested that the painting be cut down to sign size and include the business logo.

“We take this position in the spirit of preserving Sonora's unique cultural and architectural heritage,” the committee said.

Silva said he did not agree with the sign idea and will fight to retain the painting.

“It’s not advertising,” he said. “It depicts something that’s been done here since back, back, back, way back in history. It is historically based.”

The microbrewery is the first of its kind in Sonora. Formerly Lighthouse Deli, the business expanded into the space next door to accommodate the brewing equipment.

The city changed its zoning law to allow microbreweries, a rapidly growing segment of the food industry.

“I was born in this city,” Silva said. “I take great pride in this city and I’m not going to do anything to hurt it.”