News - July 6, 2011

Split vote denies Walgreens permit to sell beer and wine

by Sandy Brundage

Walgreens said it's still thinking about whether to appeal the Menlo Park Planning Commission's denial of an alcohol sales permit. After hours of debate, the commission voted 4-3 on June 27 to deny the drugstore chain's request to sell beer and wine at its Santa Cruz Avenue location.

Commissioners Katie Ferrick, Peipei Yu, Jack O'Malley, and Ben Eiref voted against the permit on the grounds that allowing a downtown drugstore to sell alcohol for off-premise consumption was inappropriate and detrimental to the city's welfare.

"I see this as opening the door in town to a number of other businesses," Mr. O'Malley said. "We have to draw the line somewhere."

They argued that given the number of other stores within walking distance of Walgreens that already sell alcohol, such as Trader Joe's, adding sales to yet another location served neither public necessity nor convenience.

Location, location, location seemed to be the key. "It's a good thing Draeger's doesn't have a Santa Cruz Avenue address," Commissioner John Kadvany noted wryly as he explained why he supported the store's request.

The discussion took a torturous turn as those on the dais made a separate vote, as required, on whether alcohol sales would serve a public convenience, with one commissioner wondering if they were "voting negatively on the positive statement, or positively on the negative statement." The vote came in at 4-3 again, but this time Mr. Eiref switched sides to support the finding that the sales would serve a public convenience.

Beverages & More lost a bid to open a small store on Santa Cruz Avenue four years ago. Dan Beltramo, of Beltramo's Wine and Spirits, opposed that store as he did Walgreen's request.

"We're disappointed in the decision," Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger said, adding that the chain hasn't decided yet to appeal the decision to the City Council before the July 12 deadline.


Posted by G Cronin, a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Planning Commissioner Kadvany's position: as always a principled decision that mustn't be judged by the ryeness, or dryness, of his comments.

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