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."