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Council gives 7-Eleven the green light

Members vote 3 to 2 to overturn denial of convenience store that will sell beer and wine.

September 24, 2010|By Gretchen Meier,

It wasn't the Slurpees residents were protesting Tuesday night on a proposed 7-Eleven that would sell alcohol mere blocks from an existing franchise.

Concerned about the high concentration of businesses that already sell alcohol in the neighborhood and the potential of attracting noise and crime, residents testified against allowing the convenience store to move in during an appeals hearing before the City Council, which eventually voted 3 to 2 to allow the store.

On June 28, the Planning Board unanimously denied a conditional-use permit for Harry Sharma's 7-Eleven franchise at 2000 N. Hollywood Way to sell beer and wine for off-premises consumption and operate between midnight and 6 a.m.


City code requires a permit for businesses to operate within 150 feet of residences during late-night hours.

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has determined that the proposed 7-Eleven would be in an area that already has four off-sale alcohol licenses, an undue concentration based on the surrounding area, according to the agency.

This project would be the second license over the recommended limit.

The City Council was asked to determine whether the project was either necessary or convenient in order to approve an additional license in the area.

The majority of public comments focused on the traffic and crime concerns associated with the perceived type of clientele they said a 7-Eleven brings in.

"When we had the city planning meeting, the presentation given by the 7-Eleven representative focused a lot on how crime with the 7-Elevens had gone down, and it was such a family-friendly store now," said Hannah Judd, a resident along North Hollywood Way. "The reason they were having to emphasize it is because [the store] has the opposite reputation."

Other residents expressed concerns about littering and noise associated with the business.

"I obviously don't think it's a necessity," Councilman Gary Bric said after the public hearing closed. "I was here to support this tonight, and after hearing everything, I'm questioning myself."

All council members disclosed meeting with 7-Eleven representatives before the public meeting.

But they said the decision could not be made based on competition with other businesses or other effects a 7-Eleven might have on the neighborhood.

"Sometimes it's hard to divorce some of the issues that are important, but we don't do our zoning and land use on the impacts of competition," said Councilman Dave Golonski.

The conditional-use permit runs with the property, and since that can change over time, the council is supposed to be blind to the applicant, Golonski said.

"What I think we're supposed to look at is a convenience store with a permit to sell beer and wine and operate late hours," he said. "That's what I'm looking at."

Bric and Mayor Anja Reinke voted to uphold the Planning Board's decision. The remaining three found the project did provide a convenience for the public, and voted to overturn.

"We were very pleased with the decision," Sharma said. "I think the City Council did a fair job approving the application."

He did not have an official opening date, but said he is in the process of applying for final permits with the city. The store should be open sometime next year, he added.

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