Planning Commission Denies Unocal 76 Gas Station Alcohol Permit

For now, the city of La Cañada Flintridge will not have a gas station mini mart selling alcohol after the Planning Commission unanimously denied a permit to the Unocal 76 on Foothill Boulevard, upholding a long-standing policy.
Before casting his vote on Tuesday, Commissioner Arun Jain said he visited five gas stations in town personally on Sunday to ask them if they have a beer, wine or liquor license.
“Each one of them told me the same story,” Jain said. “They were denied and don’t have it. And that has been a very long-standing policy for La Cañada. I didn’t know that.” He added because there are nearby schools and a church, “it would be negative for the people living in that area. This granting of the license is not sitting well within the community as such and it would be a special privilege granted to you.”
The conditional-use permit for Unocal, located at 2384 Foothill Blvd., sought to add a Type 20 alcohol license.
According to the Planning Commission staff report, applicant and property owner Joseph Shayfar’s request for the gas station, at the southwest corner of Foothill Boulevard and Briggs Avenue, should be denied.
Staff contacted the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which “indicated there is an over-concentration of alcohol licenses (two allowed but three are permitted) within the census tract,” according to the report.
To approve the permit, a finding of public convenience or necessity must be made by the local city, according to the staff report, but even then the staff would recommend against the finding due to the over-concentration in the area.
Additionally, staff and the ABC had received various complaints about loitering at the subject lot, according to the report.
Shayfar addressed the commission before and after resident comments. He said they won’t sell single cans of beer and that alcohol sales are not expected to be more than 3% of total sales. Shayfar also said he would like to be competitive with other gas stations that sell alcohol nearby.
“We are hoping to get some of their customers,” Shayfar said. “If you don’t have the beer, they’re not going to come to my station.”
Resident Randy Strapazon said the permit should be denied to keep the community and children safe from underage alcohol consumption. A late-hours mini mart often has just one person selling, she said, making it easier for someone to commit the crime.
“It’s a little bit of a safety net in our community … this does not happen in a mini mart,” Strapazon said. “This is why we stopped Chevron’s mini mart in 2004. We don’t want a precedent set. We understand these are responsible owners. I wish they were half a block further up Foothill.”
Resident Krikor Darakjian, who said he had lived next to the gas station since 1985, was opposed because the establishment had changed ownership multiple times and he was currently having issues with the property owner.
His issues included a blue canopy left as “trash,” a noisy air-conditioning compressor and people loudly using profanity at the edge of the property, he said.
“I’m below the station about 30 feet,” Darakjian said. “I’m not against anybody … as long as they’re not bothering me I don’t care. But I’m uncomfortable.”
Shayfar said this is the first time he had heard about any issues with Darakjian.
“We’ll sit down and figure it out,” Shayfar said.
Ultimately, the commission voted to deny the permit.
“I’m concerned about the voice of the community and setting a precedent,” said Commissioner Henry Oh before making his vote. “It’s tough, but we have to be the voice of the community.”
Planning Commission Chair Rick Gunter said afterward there is a 15-day period in which the owner can appeal the decision to the City Council.

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