The Planning Commission had voted 4-3 in June to turn down the request, saying public welfare would be damaged by stocking approximately 12 feet of shelf space with beer and wine in a drugstore on Santa Cruz Avenue. Daniel Beltramo of Beltramo's Fine Wines and Spirits had submitted the single letter opposing the appeal, arguing that Menlo Park already has more than its quota of alcohol outlets.
Meanwhile, Walgreens representative Dan Kramer contended that the zoning along downtown Santa Cruz Avenue allows alcohol sales without creating exceptions based on business type, and that there's no empirical evidence supporting opposition statements that the sales would be detrimental to the community. "The police department found no danger," he told the council, later adding that statistics show no impact on general welfare.
Selling "1 percent of the alcohol Trader Joe's sells" would put Walgreens on a level playing field with its competitors, according to Mr. Kramer.
The manager of a San Carlos Walgreens, which has sold alcohol for about a year, also addressed the council, saying that the nominal $100 to $200 per day in beer and wine sales indicates shoppers see it as a convenience rather than a main reason for visiting the drugstore. He said there's been no change in type of clientele or increased police activity.
But citing the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's moratorium on similar permits in San Mateo County, Councilwoman Kirsten Keith moved to uphold the Planning Commission's denial of Walgreens' request.
"We are well served in our alcohol purchases. There are retailers just a few hundred feet away that do carry alcohol, just not on Santa Cruz Avenue," Ms. Keith said at Tuesday's meeting before making a motion to uphold the permit denial.