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Slab Cinema calls off Cevallos locale 

In mid-April, the Current received an email from Slab Cinema — SA’s beloved outdoor B-movie profferers — explicating a location change. Development plans at its current location prompted Slab to set sights on a space just down the road on Cevallos, where they hoped to build a permanent outdoor garden theater. Per the email, Slab had been in the rezoning process for the space, seeking permission for outdoor speakers.

According to Slab co-founder Angela Martinez, they had spoken with the only neighbor it might affect — an elderly man — and he was approving on the conditions that sound was carefully monitored and films ended by 11pm. “We wouldn’t want to be bad neighbors,” Martinez told the Current by phone yesterday. She adds that they planned for “an attractive perimeter fence” between Slab’s potential space and his property.

According to the April email, “Our case was approved unanimously by the zoning commission but was postponed earlier this month by our City Council office.”

The email urged recipients to show their support for the project by emailing District 5 Councilwoman Lourdes Galvan.

Earlier this week we received another email on the progress of Slab’s case:

“After two continuances and a 6-hour city council meeting, Councilwoman Lourdes Galvan finally approved our request for outdoor speakers. Unfortunately, she simultaneously rescinded the zoning we already had, restricting us to no alcohol sales and no alcohol by donation.

We were very disappointed, not so much in the outcome, but because this restriction had never once been discussed with us. We found out they were going to add the condition the morning of the City Council meeting; they left us no time for further dialog with the councilwoman.

While alcohol sales or by donation are NOT an integral part of the Outdoor Cinema, it is an option we need so that we can invest in buying the property and creating the theater. By passing the zoning the but stamping it NA, Ms. Galvan is able to say that she supported the outdoor theater while at the same time ensuring the project never reaches fruition in that particular space.”

Patrons would have been able to BYOB, said Martinez, but that would have left Slab staffers with the job of policing them and taking care of the mess — for no help with the mortgage.

An additional call made to Martinez this afternoon brought sad news: “We’re not doing it …We can’t be confident in covering the mortgage,” she said, adding that when Slab does build a permanent, outdoor, park-like theater, they want to be able to do it right. Without alcohol sales/donations, she just doesn’t see that happening.

With the contract cancelled for the Cevallos property, Martinez says the Slab summer slate is up in the air for the moment, but that they are exploring temporary options with the new property owners of their original space.

The Current’s call to Councilwoman Galvan’s office was not returned.

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