Fresno's Historic Tower Theatre is being sold to a local church in violation of the City's Zoning, the decades old Tower Specific Plan, and outside the order of fair public oversight for land use changes through City established Planning and Implementation Committees. The attempted purchase and sale blatantly circumvents a Right of First Refusal held by Sequoia Brewing Company in its lease. A spot rezoning of the Tower Theatre and complex were to occur, as required by local zoning law, it would upend the long established Commercial Main Street Zone and put at-risk the sensitive use permits of the Tower District's bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and live entertainment venues. That means no more liquor licenses, no new bars, no new clubs and entertainment venues, and no way that the current business could sell and transfer the existing licenses. This could impact business up to 1,000 feet from the Theatre, which is nearly the entire district. This could also displace many local non-profit film festivals, non-profit live performance festivals and even Sunday opera performances.
Sequoia Brewing Company, with the support of the community is seeking to have their legal rights recognized and be given the opportunity to purchase the Tower Theatre and complex, maintain its current land use and zoning, and safeguard the entire district from any possible rezone and resulting economic damages. The Theatre complex is currently in escrow despite unauthorized land use, a generous offer of support from the City of Fresno to find a building appropriately zoned, and overwhelming community opposition. Over 100 Tower District businesses, property owners, homeowners, and professional associations, along with over 2,000 additional community members, supporters and local faith leaders signed on to a letter demanding the City of Fresno intervene to prevent the sale and subsequent rezone. The property owners and the current buyers have not been persuaded and have instead elected to press on in defiance and threaten to pursue legal action rather than the traditional application process for permits irrespective of the legal rights of Sequoia Brewing Company, the community and the City of Fresno.