Menlo council OKs BevMo on 3-2 vote


"Eagerly anticipated" is not the first phrase that comes to mind for Menlo Park residents contemplating the next City Council meeting.

Yet it may have applied on Nov. 9, when residents filled the council chambers to see whether the council would uphold the Planning Commission's decision to let Beverages & More (BevMo) open a store in a spot that has sat empty for 18 months in the strip mall at 700 El Camino Real, which also houses Staples and Big 5.

The council voted 3-2 in favor of BevMo, with Kelly Fergusson and Heyward Robinson dissenting on the grounds that another liquor store would not be a convenience for city residents, given the Safeway right across the street and the total 17 liquor stores already in Menlo Park.

The stack of comment cards from people wanting to speak at the meeting equaled two-and-a-half hours of public comments, according to the city clerk, with several speakers sporting 'No on BevMo' lapel stickers.

A binder holding all of the correspondence received from residents about the store, provided by city staff, looked five inches thick, with the majority opposing BevMo.

City Attorney Bill McClure explained the council could consider only whether the store would provide a public convenience or necessity, and whether a liquor store would be an appropriate use of the site regardless of who the applicant was.

Resident Maureen Hogan, who had filed the appeal of the Planning Commission's decision, presented a succinct argument for denial based on lack of need and convenience, but in the end failed to sway a majority of the council.

"The staff report said 1,500 Menlo Park residents have a BevMo card. So they're already traveling to a BevMo store. How can we argue it's not more convenient for those people to get it locally? Of course it's convenient to be able to have your choice of stores and products," said Vice Mayor John Boyle.

The approval included a request by Councilman Andy Cohen for a review of the store's use permit after two years, one year sooner than the Planning Commission had requested.

No problem, said Jeff Sealy, BevMo's vice president of real estate, who also agreed a few minutes later that miniature "airplane" bottles of liquor would be kept in locked display cases instead of next to the checkout line after Councilman Robinson, who waved an airplane bottle of alcohol that he'd bought for 99 cents at a local BevMo, mentioned that he found the appeal to "one for the road" impulse buys worrisome.

Mr. Robinson also requested that BevMo not sell caffeinated alcoholic beverages in Menlo Park.

The Almanac will have an expanded version of this story available in its next issue.

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Like this comment
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 10, 2010 at 12:26 am

The discussion seemed to turn pesky as the discussion turned toward "friendly" motions - requiring BevMo to lock up the little single-serving bottles (presumably to avoid shoplifting by underage miscreants), and to avoid selling caffeinated alcholoic beverages.

Wisely, the BevMo representative approached the dias to ask that BevMo be held to the same standard as othre retail/liquor stores. BevMo agreed and the council agreed.

Mr. Robinson failed to add that he paid sales tax, in addition to the $.99 for his little biddy bottle.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:17 am

Sanity prevailed and Beltramos screwed themselves with their underhanded attempt to undo the decision of the planning commission. Myslef and others will never do business with them again because of it.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:51 am

What is the justification for Kelly Fergusson and Hayward Robinson voting against the decision by their own Planning Commission and against the recommendation of their own staff?

It's a rhetorical question.

Like this comment
Posted by Janet Medlin
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2010 at 9:48 am

Whoever thinks Hogan and Beltramos were in this together is dead wrong. I've known Maureen Hogan for over a decade. She's a true woman of character and she was neither influenced, nor did she even CONSIDER Beltramos' interests in her appeal. This was about property values, no need for further alcohol sales in MP and the PC's failure to consider the proper standard of review. Beltramos may too have opposed Bev Mo for its own business sake, and perhaps Hogan beat them to the appeal process, but to mouth off that Beltramos was complicit with Hogan does disservice to any private citizen who chooses to assert their rights.

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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 10:03 am

To Janet Medlin's post - agreed, that whether Maureen Hogan happens to be a close neighbhor, friend, or has some other relation to Beltramo's is not the point.

And her passion for this issue is to be recognized. In the end, it appeared that the council members that voted against the appeal, did this with reasoned concern for the process.

Imagine our city if we continue to fight big book stores or other retail outlets. We'd wind up with an empty Chili's, or if you can imagine, the day when we wind up with empty Ford, Lincoln, Cadillac, GM lots. Bad business practice is bad for property values too. As a homeowner, that concerns me too. A lot.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

I understand the need to maintain property values as well as maintain small town charm of a smaller city. But it seems to me that a thoroughfare such as El Camino is a little different because it has no small town charm. If someone doesn't find a larger store on El Camino in their town, they'll go to the closest one and if that's not in their town, the revenue goes somewhere else.

There do seem to already be plenty of liquor stores in MP. I'll shop at BevMo because: it's close enough and in SM County, I don't want to deal w/the traffic & lines at Safeway, there's good selection and decent prices and I'm not thrilled w/Beltramo's. K&L & Trader Joe's still still get me business, too.

One thing easily overlooked when people are being their town-centric is that others living locally will also patronize businesses in your town, so perhaps that is something to keep in mind.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 11:15 am

Councilman Robinson's request for an amendment to the BevMo approval, that liquor miniatures not be readily available at checkout counters, was reasonable.
However, hopefully Robinson will check all the other liquor retailers in town and make sure that they are not making the miniatures readily available. That would be very unfair singling out only BevMo for that rule.
A bit odd that even though Robinson's amendment was approved he still voted in favor of the appeal to keep BevMo out. Oh well he's out come January.
Thank goodness three of the five council members followed the rules on deciding the appeal.

Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Booze miniatures are totally available at other stores including ones that sell groceries also. (Not naming names-let Robinson go check them all for himself.) Targeting that is a different issue than targeting BevMo per se. Ridiculous to link one with the other!

I wonder if this approval will cause NIMBYs to more aggressively reload and hunt down other potential business proposals.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Scholar states:"Not naming names-let Robinson go check them all for himself.)"

The chances of Robinson actually doing anything on this are ZERO.

Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm

[Posts removed: off topic.]

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2010 at 3:42 pm

[Post removed; please stay on topic; this thread is spiraling rapidly away from the issue.]

Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I am happy that BevMo has been approved. It would have been foolish to vote against it.

Fergusson and Hayward are on their way out so it figures that they voted "no."

Like this comment
Posted by Finally!
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

The majority of the City council got it right last night and didn't cave to the undue influence of the Beltramo clan. Ms. Hogan may have been acting in a civic-minded vein, but the Beltramo's used undue pressure and financial interest.
In contrast to them, the Morey family was classy and made their case in a forthright manner. How lucky for Menlo Park that they prevailed. Their Menlo Station is the perfect site for BevMo.
Even Ms. Fergussen stated that, when she took a stand against their setting up shop on Santa Cruz Avenue, she encouraged them to find an appropriate sit on El Camino. You were on the right track then, Kelly!

Like this comment
Posted by fergusson out?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Fergusson on her way out.... what make you think so. She is certainly out of touch with the community with her stand on Measure L and she is extremely politically ambitious.

The whole BevMo issue was ridiculous --- they certainly deserve to be in town, in fact they should have been allowed on Santa Cruz.

I hope Fergusson is not the next mayor. Since she got a job, she just doesn't have the time and is certainly not on top of items.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Let's get back on topic -- I think we're supposed to be discussing the BevMo issue.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 11, 2010 at 7:27 am

[This and subsequent comments have been removed. Please stay on topic and stop attacking each other.]

Like this comment
Posted by Amazed
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I applaud the City Council and their decision to approve the Bevmo. They stayed within their guidelines as allowed by law and followed the lead of the planning commission. The system does work! Bevmo will be a great retail tenant for our city and despite the efforts by the Beltramos' and Draegers' families, they have prevailed.

As for the Beltramos, I too will not shop there again. After seeing their sign up sheet filled with self serving (and inaccurate) reasons to oppose the Bevmo, it is clear that they feel they own the town and shouldn't have to compete for our business. Their actions were shameful, smack of self interest and certainly not in the best interests of our community consumers. Now it is time to let them compete....

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 12, 2010 at 5:56 am

Bevmo should be on the ECR. Beltramos has seen the last of me also.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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