News - November 17, 2010

BevMo fight really over?

• Store plans February opening.

by Sandy Brundage

Even before voting to let BevMo keep its use permit for a store the chain wants to open in a strip mall at 700 El Camino Real, the Menlo Park City Council was bracing for the consequences.

City Attorney Bill McClure explained the options remaining to anyone who didn't like the outcome. Either side could contest the decision in court; those asking for a denial of the use permit could also go before the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board.

He also told the council that legally they weren't allowed to protect one business from competition, citing a case where the courts upheld the Davis City Council's decision to allow a Borders bookstore to open.

Maureen Hogan, who filed the appeal of the Planning Commission's approval that brought the decision to the council, said she won't file an appeal of the council's decision with the ABC.

At the Nov. 9 council meeting, Ms. Hogan presented a succinct argument for denial based on lack of need and convenience, but in the end lost the appeal with a 3-2 vote by the council to uphold the permit.

"I appreciate that the City Council faced a difficult decision and deliberated at length.  While I wish the outcome had been different, I respect their decision," Ms. Hogan said.

Council members Kelly Fergusson and Heyward Robinson disagreed with their three colleagues.

Mr. Robinson later sent an opinion piece to local newspapers, saying he wishes he'd been able to persuade his colleagues to deny the permit. He cited high rents charged by the property owner as the primary reason the spot has sat vacant for 18 months, and doesn't think it was, as Mayor Rich Cline said at the meeting, "a choice between BevMo or nothing."

Dan Beltramo did not respond to questions about whether his family's company will appeal the decision to the ABC. The amount of correspondence the city received from the public before the Nov. 9 meeting, much of it from Beltramo's supporters, filled a 5-inch binder, such an "overwhelming amount" that management decided it would be a huge time drain for staff to count the total number of comments received, according to the city clerk's office.

Jeff Sealy, vice president of real estate for BevMo, said the company was excited, and anticipates opening the store by mid-February. "It was never our intent to come to Menlo Park with an eye to Beltramo's," he said. "They have a respected business, as do we."


Posted by MR. P, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

This is just stupid. The planning commission and the city council have spoken. Give it up Beltramos. All you're doing is pi**ing off potential customers who don't like your heavy handed tactics. If you stop these ridiculous games you might actually preserve some of your customers. You've already lost a bunch of customers due to your disgusting tactics ordering your employees to go to the city council meeting. You've blown one foot off already, care to shoot the other?

Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2010 at 8:54 am

Personally, I am more bothered by the fact that the Almanac ran this article than I am about the possibility of some one excercising the option to take this issue another step and go to the ABC. IT seems to be trying to make a story before there is one. Not good journalism in my opinion. I'm also appalled at the fact that Mr. Robinson, a lame duck, saw fit to issue an "information piece" trying to keep the pot stirred because he voted in the minority. My compliments to Ms Hogan, whom did make a very sincere presentation of her view at the meeting. She is obviously a sincere, mature, intelligent adult who, while understandably disappointed, respects the process and decision of council. From the article, since Mr. Beltramo made no comment, I can't, as I sit here typing, say that he will not be any less mature about this than Ms. Hogan, and respect the council decision. If, indeed, Beltramo does take this to court or to ABC, then I would join the chorus and will have spent my last dime in their store.

Posted by yep!, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

I agree that the Almanac is trying hard to make stories, not report them. Brundage is on this kick. She should be told to stop this kind of reporting or be given the heave ho.

Posted by Joan, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 11:15 am

So an imperious merchant who had the audacity to demand that his employees stack a council meeting to try to kill a potential competitor won't comment about whether he will appeal the decision, and you think reporting that is "making" a story where there is none? Mr. Beltramo has shown his determination to get his way, many residents WANT BevMo in town, and you don't think people are interested in whether Beltramo appeals? I just don't get your logic, folks.

Posted by new guy, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 17, 2010 at 11:29 am

Mr. Robinson is now a member of "the rent is too damn high party"

Web Link

Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Joan-No, I honestly don't think the fact that Beltramo would not comment on what his intentions are is a story. If I considered news to be to speculate about what may or may not happen in a given situation, I'd read a tabloid. My point was that I felt this article did not need to be written, and that it may well have been intended to encourage someone/anyone to drag this issue on. Not, in my opinion, the role of an unbiased press. My response is not intended to seek your agreement, just to explain my logic.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Need and convenience? Who gets to decide that other than the dollar votes cast by consumers? What's next, outcry over the need for hotels, Venture Capitalist firms, dentists, food establishments, etc? It is also foolish to solicit the opinion of legal counsel, then ignore or worse, not understand it.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

The Beltramos really do hate competition. Check out the letter that Dan and John Beltramo sent to the city last year regarding 1300 El Camino. And remember they don't even live in Menlo Park.
Web Link

Posted by NoLogicHere, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm

WhoRUPeople, Beltramo's mentioned all of once in the article near the end. How on earth do you leap from that to deciding the whole thing was about him not commenting?? Some of us wondered if Hogan would keep going; she says not and that appears by my logic to be the point.

Posted by jutes, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Nov 17, 2010 at 4:06 pm

BevMo can save consumers money because they have the buying power of a chain outlet. Unfortunately, these big chain companies are slowly destroying all our small towns. Taking away jobs in towns where people were able to live and work. Taking away merchants who knew their customers, hired their kids, catered to their clients and were,literally, a part of their community. These "mom & pop" businesses owners had great employee benefits, good salaries and retirements. Their employees could actually afford to live nearby.
When the big corporate chains come in, it is all about dollars and benefits are slowly taken away and wages down. They get in, get control,and product prices go up. I have shopped at BevMo in Redwood City. Their prices are higher than Beltramos in Menlo Park for years on several items!! Wait till Beltramos closes and you will see a sharp rise in prices at BevMo MP.

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Jutes....Sorry but that is absolute rubbish. Go back and read the story how Kepler closed the bookstore. Many of the employees found out it was closed when they turned up for work. As I recall the Almanac even ran a picture of it.

Local business cares for its employees my ass. They care for themselves.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 17, 2010 at 7:45 pm


the Beltramos don't even live in Menlo Park. Have you been in Beltyramos lately? Do you really think they are hiring local youth? As another said, "rubbish."

Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm

The Beltramos can't even deal with it's own property and it has to interfere with developmemnts down the street (1300 El Camino and the old Chili's site).
They have caused the city to use an inordinate amount of staff time and money which could have and could be put to far better use addressing the real needs of those who live in Menlo Park rather than for the whims of the wealthy outsiders who own commercial property.
The Beltramos and their cronies are costing us a bundle.
Remember folks the Beltramos own all the land from Encinal through what was the old Rayberg Lumber on El Camino. Ten years ago they kicked the lumber yard out because they wanted build and office bldg and apartments.
From the Almanac - February 28, 2001
Rayberg lumber store prepares to close
Closing makes way for planned office, housing complex.
By Alan Sissenwein - Almanac Staff Writer
After more than 40 years in business, the Rayberg Lumber and Supply Co., which provided raw materials for many local homes, is scheduled to close its doors at the end of March.
Located at 1460 El Camino Real in Menlo Park, the business has been supplying building materials, predominantly for contractors, since 1958. Its current stock includes doors, windows, moldings, plywood and lumber, said proprietor Jim Berchem. Mr. Berchem owns Rayberg lumber in conjunction with his father, Paul.
Jim Berchem said the store is closing to make way for a new office/housing development that the site's owners, the Beltramo family, are planning to erect.
Dan Beltramo said the proposed development would feature a two-story, 27,000-square-foot office building and 16 two-floor apartments. An environmental impact review of the project is currently being prepared by city officials, and Mr. Beltramo said he does not know when construction might begin.

Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2010 at 8:17 am

NoLogicHere-as i said in my response to Joan, my intent was not to seek agreement, just explain MY logic. I remain of the opinion that this article wasn't intended to report news, but, rather, an attempt to make/foster a story. I certainly could be wrong, but continue to feel that if I am, it is not because of faulty logic. And, yes-struck nerve noted-, I do take pride in considering myself to be a logical person.

Posted by Scholar, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 18, 2010 at 3:10 pm

The faster BevMo opens, the faster I can switch my personal business to them.

Posted by Norman, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I'm surprised most everyone has as his/her central theme The Beltramos. This isn't about Beltramos its about where or if to put a BevMo in Menlo Park.

As for me, I dislike not giving permits of use based on grandfathered in like businesses. If a new dry cleaners wants to come in and we have tons of them, so be it. And I feel the same about another liquor store. Let them in.

On the issue of where it can go, that's another matter. I've been to a BevMo store and it felt like a minature Costco, barebones and disheveled. So, from that viewpoint I didn't want their store in downtown MP where we should have a certain ambience, not all fru-fru but with some order. So, where it is to go now, kind of out of sight along with some other like merchants is fine with me.

Posted by Marshall, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

I for one would be glad to see Beltramos go.

They've provided a poor service for long enough.

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm

While I disagree with Beltramo's stance against Bevmo, under no circumstances could I ever describe the service there as poor. On the contrary I have always recieved great service at Beltramo's.

Posted by Stuckhere, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Why can't this town get something it needs and NOT another liquor store. How much can one community drink? We had a Chile's, gone, Arby's, gone. Village appeal my hind end. We have around 10 beauty/salon/spas, 5 overpriced unremarkable italian, 5 overpriced unremarkable french restaurants, 7 dry cleaning and 10 overpriced boutiques that cater to the ultra thins. Where are the ethnic restaurants, Applebees etc. Oh and I won't go into the umpteen coffee places. Geez. Half the shops look run down and what about all those empty car dealership lots. Who wants to keep the town like this? Old, boring people I guess. Wake up Menlo Park!!!!

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm


And what would YOU suggest?

If you know what this town needs, open up a business. Talk is cheap.

At least BevMo put their money on the line.

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

Stuckhere....Time for you to move dear. God knows our little area had its problems. So does everywhere else. The fact that we are all willing to share our views on a forum such as this, get it out of our systems and move on, makes me very proud of my little community......Yes we can get a bit vehement sometimes, but I have not seen people rioting in the streets here.. Count your blessings, for all the "problems" we may have, or think we have, this is a wonderful community and place to live.

Posted by Edith Heare, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Somebody Should Do Something About All the Problems!

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