City Restores a 9-to-5 Delivery Period for Starbucks

Thanks to a 4-1 vote of the San Marino City Council, Starbucks will be permitted to take product deliveries between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and will even be allowed to add an additional outside table for its customers. The decision ends an appeal filed by nearby residents wishing to bar the store from taking late-night shipments.
The decision appeared to be driven by the show of good faith from Starbucks managers, who most City Council members said demonstrated a responsive follow-up to complaints aired at a previous meeting addressing the appeal. Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey, who has wanted to set an earlier cutoff for deliveries, voted against the measure.
“I do think deliveries are a big issue in this city,” she said. “I know the large refrigerated truck is loud, and when everything else is quiet you can notice the sound. I wouldn’t want it later than 5, and I would still support a 9-3 limitation.”
The appeal, which concerned a Planning Commission agreement to a series of modifications to Starbucks’ conditional use permit, was filed by Hector and Linda Gutierrez, who had documented a number of violations of the then-permit, including deliveries made after the approved period and customer parking in the residential neighborhood.
“I would really like to see a posting inside Starbucks stating that patrons should not be parking in the residential areas,” Linda Gutierrez said at the meeting last week. “Because of the San Gabriel Avenue location being closed, I see that there are times where it’s very, very busy. There are times where it’s extremely busy and dangerous for the residents and for kids.
“I don’t want to baby-sit them, and I think there should be a violation for a company this big that breaks the rules,” she added.
The City Council’s decision actually continues the 9-5
delivery window that was approved in 1996. The Planning Commission in November had approved several modifications to the CUP, including a slight change to opening hours throughout the week. The modification that resulted in the appeal was allowing deliveries from 9 a.m. through 10 p.m., which the Gutierrezes decried as being far too late, considering the store’s proximity to their residential neighborhood.
Aside from the delivery window, the remainder of the Planning Commission’s changes have now been rubber stamped by the City Council.
Keith Glassman, who is representing Starbucks through his firm that assists businesses in working through governmental red tape, emphasized that he and the store’s management have committed to showing good faith to the city and have strictly operated within the desired delivery windows, typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. if there aren’t impeding factors.
“I think we’ve come a long way in our compliance,” Glassman said. “We’ve done a great deal of mitigation as far as deliveries go and with cleanliness of the store. With the wiggle room [of 9-5], it’s typical standard delivery hours that businesses have.”
Several residents and local business owners came to the defense of the store last week, lauding it for its presence in the community for more than 20 years and criticizing city regulations that limited outdoor seating and the number of workers permitted during a shift.
“We think it’s time for the City Council to take a fresh look at the conditional use permit that was established 20 years ago,” said Knox Cologne, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of a group of fellow residents. “We’re not aware of other cities that impose such restrictions.”
Bob Houston, a local certified public accountant, said he’s patronized the store for 20 years and considers it a “hub of community.” He pointed out there are numerous people who bring lawn chairs in their cars and sit outside with their morning coffee, thanks to restrictions on outside seating.
“This is all about coexistence of the business community and the residential community,” he said. “This is absurd for this community to create a situation that requires that.
“I think it’s a lot safer to have that truck at 10 o’clock at night, and less ugly and disruptive, than having it sitting out there at noon,” Houston added.
“We need to support our businesses,” said Debbie Priester, who owns Titan Travel across the street from Starbucks. “They support PTA. They support you guys when you do different meetings here. They support scouting. They support the [San Marino] Motor Classic. They support the community with a lot of volunteering and donating. I believe as a business owner that this is what we should be doing [for Starbucks].”
Councilman Steve Talt ultimately offered a motion to allow the 9-5 delivery window and, in recognition of comments about other restrictions, to allow three tables with six chairs in the outside area.
“My interest is in making sure the neighborhoods are protected,” Talt said. “Having said that, I believe a lot of these issues are not related to the [conditional use permit] itself, but are related to enforcement. We have to enforce those laws to protect the neighborhoods.”
Councilman Ken Ude, who is working with Councilwoman Susan Jakubowski on a business development proposal for the city, seconded the motion.
“I don’t think we should try to put handcuffs on businesses,” Ude said. “I think [9-5] makes total sense to me.”

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