City's team approach speeds Lagunitas growth

No business wants to keep their customers waiting. But when growing consumer demand requires building a new facility, it can often be a slow and frustrating process for the business owner.

But thanks to Petaluma's newly streamlined development approval process aimed at making it easier for businesses to expand, the rapidly growing legion of Lagunitas beer fans have reason to rejoice. The wait for their brews just got a lot shorter.

According to Lagunitas founder and owner Tony Magee, the brewery's $14 million expansion, that will allow it to increase annual barrel production from 160,000 to 600,000, would have typically taken three years. "However, because the city provided a low friction environment for the project, we were able to have it set up, engineered, reviewed and completed in about a year."

Tank installation at Lagunitas Brewing Co.


Magee says that the brewery had gotten to a point where incremental changes in the facility and equipment weren't sufficient to meet their production needs. "We are growing very quickly and we had grown through our equipment. It was going to require construction."

Rather than working with individual city departments to gain project approval, as had been the case in the past, Magee was able to meet with a team representing the primary department staff responsible for reviewing and permitting projects, including police, fire, public works, water resources and planning.

"Instead of each department sending out emails with isolated points of view, with everyone in the room it became a community. It set the arrow of my project straight forward because everyone there wanted to see it get done," says Magee.

Economic Development Manager Ingrid Alverde saw an opportunity to put the steamlined review and permitting process into action when Magee said he needed to get the expansion done quickly or Lagunitas' growth would be hindered.

She says Lagunitas is a great example of a complex and time sensitive project that demonstrates how the team approach has produced a better and quicker outcome.

"Lagunitas was the case study for the city to take a team approach with the goal of making it easier for businesses to expand. But this isn't a short-term effort. We have changed how we do business."

For Magee, the difference was dramatic. "The city has changed everything. It's like a new world here now."

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