Neon Sign to Stay at Institution Ale
Photos: Institution Ale
By edhat staff
A recent decision by the Historic Landmarks Commission approved Institution Ale's large indoor neon sign after some controversy.
The brewery located at 516 State Street, the former home of Pierre Lafond, came under fire after opening when the City of Santa Barbara's Sign Committee sent them a letter in April stating their interior neon sign spelling out "Institution Ale" violated a sign ordinance. Even though the sign does not face towards the street, the large front windows make the sign visible from most angles. The letter stated the sign must be set back a minimum of 10 feet from the front window and they could face a $100/day fine until the sign is removed or corrected.
Brewery owners, father Roger Smith and his sons, Shaun Smith and Ryan Smith, appealed to the Sign Committee and were denied 2-1 on July 2. They then went to the Historic Landmarks Commission and argued the sign is historically accurate due to the buildings 1940's history as a car dealership that included neon signs.
Public commenters disagreed with the historical grounds stating it could lead to other businesses flagrantly disregarding sign ordinances. One public commenter even stated it could be hazardous and distracting for motorists who could endanger nearby pedestrians. Other commenters sided with the brewery stating the business has brought more people out to the area and is livening up State Street during a time where many buildings are vacant.
The Historic Landmarks Commission approved the sign in a 5-2 vote last week.
Institution Ale Co. originally opened in 2013 in Camarillo specializing in American style ales. They opened their Santa Barbara taproom earlier this year offering a large rotating selection of beers and freshly baked thin-crust pizzas and soft pretzels.