BevMo scores permit for Menlo Park store Menlo Park, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Aug 24, 2010 at 11:33 am
Second time's the charm: Beverages & More (BevMo) scored a use permit from a divided Planning Commission to open an 8,900-square-foot store at the former site of the Chili's restaurant on El Camino Real in Menlo Park.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 11:07 AM
Posted by Tired of Vacant Store Fronts, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm
Well, BevMo wouldn't be my first choice. I, too, would have preferred a nice family restaurant there instead.
However, I'm so tired of all the ugly, empty, vacant properties along El Camino in Menlo Park that it will at least mean that there is "life" along that corridor and that the city will again earn revenue.
Now, how about fixing up the empty movie theater, car lots and the bathing suit store?
Posted by btkmenlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Felton Gables neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm
There is real concern with Menlo Park Council members and RE property owners. Why aren't family owned restaurants wanting that space?… probably can't make enough money. RE Owner charges too much rent? It's too bad to have another liquor store in the town. As if Beltromo's is the only place in town. You've got Draeger's, Safeway, Trader Joe's, another on Oak Avenue by the Post Office and that is just downtown. We really don't need another liquor store. The question is why are retailer's and restaurants not coming to Menlo Park in certain places. Is it the RE owner? Is it the City Council planning? We need an expert from Menlo Park who loves our town and speaks for the people. Sort of a cooperative working relationship with businesses and RE Owner's.
Posted by Drinks all around, a resident of another community, on Aug 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm
The one on Oak closed, Beltramo's is another caliber (higher, and so is Trader Joes (lower I'd say). They only will compete with Draegers and Safeway, and it will at least use some decent property on El Camino.
BevMo is a pretty good store though and at least they let you return full capped bottles if you buy too much for a party (which have done). You can also order online ahead of time and have everything waiting for you (so I've heard from friends).
Posted by Menlo Park Shopper, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm
I attended the Planning Commission meeting last night and heard a very different story from what this reporter writes and I feel compelled to tell it like it happened! First, I heard that over 1,550 letters, postcards, and emails were received by the City in opposition to the issuance of a permit to BevMo - basically over 95% of all the correspondence from the community was against another liquor store in MP. This is not a "bombardment" in favor of BevMo by a long shot as the writer states! Additionally, I heard the BevMo rep say that BevMo has approximately 1,600 card holders/customers from the Palo Alto, MP, and Atherton area....definitely not all MP residents. One of the Commissioners later in his discussion distored this fact by saying it was 1,600 MP residents and no one on the panel corrected him. It is obvious that this reporter wasn't listening closely when the BevMo rep made his statement.
All in all, the hearing was a huge disappointment. A big turnout against BevMo both in attendance and via correspondence from residents was ignored. Further the Commissioners, except Ms. Keith and Ms. Ferrick, distorted or misunderstood the facts. To me their decisions were not based on sound fact or reasoning but rather on stretches of imagination and hypotheticals.
Posted by Want more, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm
I'm happy to see the Bev Mo. As others have indicated, it will generate more tax revenue and shoppers to to the city. I still have to go elsewhere for general merchandise though. God forbid should be ever see something like a Target or a WalMart. That might draw too much traffic, and revenue to our poor city. Lets get real that we need a draw here in Menlo Park. Still too many empty lots and buildings through out the city.
Posted by Let Freedom Ring!, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm
I've been a Menlo Park resident for the past 3 years and as a hard working tax paying individual I'm happy to see that the free market still is in the lexicon of the average American. I'm looking forward to the BevMo! store coming to Menlo Park, this will be good for all of Menlo's citizens even the whiny Draegers and Beltramos families will benefit from it. Let's see here, more jobs, more tax revenues for the city, free market benefits and a whole host of other benefits that far out way the downside. On a side note why doesn't anyone complain about Safeway which does Triple the amount of beer, wine & alcohol sales as Beltramo's and Draeger's combined!! In these economic times we should be supporting any business that brings jobs and choices to our community...Let Freedom Ring!
Posted by Paul L, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 3:29 pm
This is a victory for capitalism. Instead of watching Beltramo's and Draeger's attempt to limit their competition under the cloak of "protecting local businesses," we can now let the consumers vote with their pocketbooks. The issue here is that WE are given the choice - not having Kirsten Keith and Katie Ferrick make the decision for us on "ideal" grounds. This has been a mountain made out of a molehill...
Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm
I think all of us would have preferred a family restaurant, mens clothing store, baker, any number of other tenant applications. But 700 El Camino is half empty, and will still be 1/4 empty after BevMo moves in. And those nice uses probably want to be in one of the vacancies on or around Santa Cruz, once they get the money together or the economy can support them - hope I'm wrong, but that won't be soon. Meanwhile 700 Santa Cruz is not a "charm" building, and is the worse vacant. Not an easy decision, as our split vote shows.
Posted by I'll drink to that, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 3:48 pm
I get a little tired of the social engineering that some in power try to perpetrate. (Anyone thinking of voting for Keith for council?) The mall owner was willing to give BevMo a ten-year lease, which suggests to me that these are pretty scary times, yes, even for people who own/operate ugly strip malls. Katie mentioned that Deelish had closed -- never went there so wouldn't doubt it. Deelish is not the kind of business that thrives in a down economy.
I would love to have seen a family restaurant in that location, and I'm sure the owner would have preferred that. Fewer hoops to jump through, plus restaurant customers are more likely to stroll through the mall and patronize Staples and Big Five. Bottom line, the mall would be healthier. (Those of you who don't like a liquor store: would you prefer an empty strip mall?) These economic times don't allow any business owner the luxury of being so selective.
The reporter should note that Vincent Bressler's comment was rhetorical and he was in fact in favor of granting the use permit, with the caveat that a review period be included. And that's what happened. A good result all around, I think...at least for those of us who prefer free enterprise to bullying tactics, including those orchestrated by venerated local merchants.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm
Good. More sales tax for the city. If the "majority" of Menlo Park citizens really don't want to patronize the Bevmo it will go out of business. Let's see what happens. My money says Bevmo will be around for quite some time.
Posted by Matt M, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 6:43 pm
I'm happy at the outcome of the vote. Had it gone the other way I would have been disappointed. To think local merchants can now buy there way through the planning commission to limit competition, or should I say, protect their profits, is a little mind boggling.
Almost lost faith in the free market system. Phew!
Beltramo's and Dreagers have been around for a long time for good reason.
Posted by Vincent Bressler, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 6:54 pm
There were a total of 8 items voted on for BevMo last night.
I was uncomfortable supporting this use permit until and unless we established a review for the use permit. I introduced that review in item 7 and I voted in favor of items 7 and 8. If the review had been established in item 1, I likely would have voted in favor of all items.
The issue of whether or not the strip mall should be remodeled was not a factor in any of my votes.
The El Camino specific plan will provide positive incentives for land owners to remodel. I don't believe that the planning commission should try to force property owners' hands. I think that the planning commission agrees with that sentiment as well.
Also, please keep in mind that most retail uses in that location would not have required a use permit at all. BevMo is a special case because it is a liquor store.
Posted by Katie Ferrick, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:54 pm
I would like to correct the statement in the article about the reason for my vote and clarify my position on this issue:
The commissioners were required to make certain findings in order to grant a use permit, and these are more stringent than other retail types due to state ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) rules for issuance of a liquor license for a store such as BevMo. We were required to determine if this store would serve a "public convenience or necessity" in an area of "undue concentration." (According to the staff report, "undue concentration" basically means there is already too many liquor stores in the subject area and that the site is located within a crime reporting district that has a 20% or greater number of crimes than the average reported crimes from the jurisdiction.)
I could not make the finding that this store is a necessity or convenience due to the availability of like products in such close proximity in Menlo Park. Additionally, there is a BevMo 3 miles away along the same transit corridor.
Regarding potential city revenues of approximately $18,000 from this store: The liquor business was designated by the state licensing board to be over saturated in this area, so with this information, I tend to give more credibility to those who believe that the income to the city won't be net new income, but rather mostly shifted from other existing business. A business that is not over saturated in the area could provide net new income to the city and the realization of $18,000 or more could happen.
Additionally, a local business/restaurant/smaller chain has far greater potential for more than $18,000 annually in community benefits, ie. with their use of local banking services, insurance providers, their donations and sponsorships of community groups and programs. This is not just me stating studies--this has occurred many times over in my own experience as a fundraiser for various community and non-profit projects in the past. I was very disappointed to hear the property owner's representative state he only contacted national chain restaurants and retailers when trying to rent this site.
However, I could not agree more that empty store fronts and lots on El Camino are terrible and that we want to encourage business development in the city. This space has been filled by a national chain in the past and has chains for neighbors, and I agree that it will likely help this center get more activity going for itself. I really can agree with many sides to this issue and had to rely on the standards that needed to met for permit issuance. That is why this particular vote was so difficult for me.
Posted by Read the fine print, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm
What tripped up the some commissioners in making the 'findings' was that the language said there would be no impact within the 'census tract'. No one asked staff to define the bounds of the census tract. For all we know, it was so small that it could have been only the strip mall itself.
Posted by I'll drink to that, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm
It blows me away that the PC spent hours nitpicking this project to pieces and overlooked some of the most significant issues.
"...the site is located within a crime reporting district that has a 20% or greater number of crimes than the average reported crimes from the jurisdiction..."
What crime reporting district? What crimes? What defines the jurisdiction? I asked a commissioner who had no idea but speculated that perhaps the crime in question involved the Safeway employee who was dealing drugs. It's ludicrous that a crime of that nature should have had any bearing on this decision, yet we don't know because no one asked!
Similarly, I wonder what "oversaturated in this area" means. I'd guess that BevMo didn't pick this site randomly. Presumably they have market research indicating that the area is underserved, because if it weren't, they couldn't make money by locating in that mall!
So often when we get a new business in town, the established businesses start the fearmongering campaign. Wasn't Draeger's sure they'd go out of business because of the Sunday farmers' market? I'm glad that ultimately the right decision was made, but frustrated at the inept, roundabout process that led to it.
Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm
Prior to the meeting, I asked staff to define the terms "undue concentration" and "public convenience"; these were also clarified in the second half of the hearing. As I understood them:
Undue Concentration means more liquor stores per capita than in the neighborhood overall; in other words, most any downtown.
Public convenience is not defined and staff leaves it as anything the commissioners deem it to be. (This is not helpful to the commissioners, is apparently subjective by design.)
Thus we had different determinations; one commissioner proposed that, since there are 1,600 (reportedly) Menlo zip code Club BevMo members, the location would be more convenient for many of them than driving to RC. Again, more than one way to judge this.
Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm
I have lived in Menlo for over ten years and know the stripe mall very well. There have been homeless people stayed around the mail and train track near to the center's garbage area for years. Some teens have also hang around the mall. Will Bevmo attract more homeless people to the area or the teens to buy liquor?
Posted by Big Apetite, a resident of the Portola Valley: other neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 12:28 am
Getting past the Bevmo issue how about opening an all you can eat buffet in one of those empty car dealerships. The closest one is in Mt. View and look at all those hungry Stanford students and techies it would attract.
Posted by Beth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:46 am
Hmm, Big Appetite, I see your point, but aren't voracious students exactly the reason an all-you-can-eat buffet couldn't survive? ;o)
How about recruiting a lasertag/arcade/restaurant business? That could attract area families, teens, and students. The nearest similar entity is on Shoreline in Mountain View. Palo Alto teens have been clamoring for a place nearby to "hang out."
Posted by Get lost, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm
Posted by Ol' Homeboy, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 1:47 pm
Why would Menlo Park ever OK a Hooters? You can see all the "Boobs" you want by just attending a M.P. Council Meeting!
Let's all look at the bright side of the council approving BevMo â€” now we have one more place in MP to have improperly discarded shopping carts slam into your car (because you know damn well, no council person brought up the fact that numerous of the less-than-adequate number of parking stalls will need to be converted to shopping cart corrals).
Having lived in Menlo for 50 years, I've witnessed it steadily go down hill. At only 70 feet above sea level, we'll all be drowning soon â€” or maybe drowning our sorrows (at a discount) with a little help from BevMo.
Posted by REALLY CHIC, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm
I go with letting the market decide. Isn't it a bit more efficient than asking our city council or commissions, or the public, for their opinion? Yes, there's a place for government to facilitate the plan and a hospitable business environment to collect & spend taxes, etc. But hshouldn't rent-paying, tax-generating businesses have a chance to make their choice, and investment, without all the fuss?
Of course, an alternative is to ask all the big city stores to leave our quaint little town. Safeway, Starbucks, Trader Joe's, Mattress Discounters, McDonalds, Peets, Shell, Union 76, Chevron, Union Bank, Chase, and BoA. Did I miss any? Throw them all out. While we're at it, let's add some rent-control to attract nice businesses (never mind if we disenfranchise the landlords). I remember a time when we enjoyed too may opticians, a boatload of downtown pharmacy's, and one or two Chinese restuarants. Can't we go back to the good ol' days?
Posted by $ can't buy everything, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:18 pm
I am so glad that BevMo got the OK to open a store in Menlo Park. I am so tired of competing rich merchants trying to anonymously scare residents in our city by sending out costly anonymous mailers in opposition to a new tax-paying business coming to Menlo.
I am also scared by and sick of rich political candidates trying to buy their way into statewide political office (Hello, Queen Meg!).
It's nice to know that,sometimes, money can't buy everything.
Posted by REALLY CHIC, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2010 at 6:43 am
Beltramo's may have been involved, but I understand that Mr. Kepler was a key part in organizing the group that sent the postcards.
Thank you for including the postage - like many others, I took the opportunity to "rewrite" the message in support of business choice, before returning the card. I dilike empty buildings and appreciate the tax revenue. So this was tax-neutral (on the idea that BevMo will divide, not increase liquor sales)?, well this is a fine chance to build traffic at that site - in support of Big5, Staples, Dee-Lish, LensCrafters and the others.
ps, to '$ can't buy everything' - I have no real complaint with rich candidates & politicians, or being rich. The complaint with voters for not making choices based on principals and good judgement. I'll have to agree that this time, Meg isn't the better choice (although I respect that she is running). In the same way, we can't allow ourselves to choose local businesses, based on who spends the most, or sends the most postcards. Let the market decide which businesses stay, by letting consumers "vote" with their dollars as they shop.
Posted by $ Can't Buy Everything, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2010 at 7:32 am
These monied candidates (or anonymous "anti" individuals) annoy the heck out of me. The Beltramos get involved in local politics only when it effects their business and, even then, they cowardly do it anonymously. Meg and Carly both decide to get involved in statewide politics at a time when their careers have waned and when it furthers their need for attention. Where were those ladies for all those years when they dd not have the time to even vote?
Posted by Thx, volunteers, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2010 at 9:57 am
Appreciate the Planning Commissioners who've written in to provide additional context. Don't necessarily agree with all your points, but it's helpful to see some of the thoughts that went into this decision, which wasn't an easy one for anyone.
Posted by Off Track, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm
This is off track, sorry, however I had to comment on the posters above reasoning for not supporting someone like Meg Whitman......because she is rich?? Great reasoning. I think you need to dial down a bit more and see that Ms. Whitman is the only candidate that has a real plan to increase private business, and cut out wasteful government spending. The last time I checked, the state of California wasn't doing too well on those two fronts. Please "check behind the curtain" before you nix her for being rich. The ironic thing about these type statements is that you need a huge number of dollars these days to get elected! aka Obama's repealing his pledge to accept federal campaign dollars.
Ms. Whitman has a plan, she has proven to be very successful in business, and has a strong ability to tackle big issues, Jerry Brown accomplished..........dating Linda Ronstadt.
Posted by REALLY CHIC, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm
You're a bit off topic in you reply
Read again, this was a suggestion that we should look for substance in our politicians - and not rely on their richness or spending as the reason for voting. It's not a perfect analogy, but we should let the market decide which stores should be built..and not on whoever happens to spend the most to try influence decisions. Let the customers decide which businesses will succeed.
I have no problem with rich candidates. Actually, I'm a bit biased by thinking many are rich because they're smart and successful. I'll look closer, but the candidate you support seems to have more ads than substance, but maybe I missed something. I'm not so fond of postcard campaigns, negative ads, character bashing, or that politicians feel the need to deride their opponents.
And I like Linda Ronstadt. Class act, but I'm lost why that has anything to do with BevMo. Or Meg Whitman. Are you suggesting Mr. Brown used good jugement to date her, poor judgement to stop, or the other way around.
BTW - despite the postcard campaign, I'll still shop at Beltramo's. they have a fine selection, great sales people and fine advice, all in one store.
Posted by Conflicted, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Aug 31, 2010 at 8:04 pm
I am all about maintaining the the feel of Menlo Park after living in the community for almost 14 years, but feel a little conflicted over this. But, as I think about it, when I purchase wine, I almost always go to Beltramo's. I used to go there to purchase beer and kegs as well, but some time ago, Beltramo's decided to no longer carry kegs, and frankly, their beer selection is spotty at best.
That all being said, kind of sounds like we have a new store that will make the beer drinking population happy. I assume, those looking for friendly, courteous and knowledgeable advice regarding wine will still go to Beltramo's.