Planning Commission OKs controversial liquor sale

Associated Press photo
Associated Press photo

Santa Clarita’s Planning Commission agreed on a compromise Tuesday night regarding the contentious issue of allowing a convenience store set to open at the strip mall at Seco Canyon Road and Copper Hill Drive to sell hard liquor.

By a vote of 3-1, with one member absent, the board allowed the 2,300-square-foot store at 28028 Seco Canyon Road to stock up to 10 percent of its shelves with hard liquor – but reduced the hours it will be allowed to sell the spirits.

The owners’ original application called for allowing hard-liquor sales between 7 a.m. and midnight. The commission’s decision rolled back the hours till 10 p.m., in light of reports from residents in the neighborhood around the store of public intoxication, vagrancy, panhandling, trash and increased traffic related to alcohol sales.

The residents’ group, led by Robert and Tammie Christian, pointed out that two businesses in the immediate vicinity — a Circle K convenience store and a CVS — currently sell alcohol, and that another such vendor would exacerbate the problems they cited.

“It’s extremely concerning to have so much alcohol being sold” in the mostly residential neighborhood, Tammie Christian said.

She also pointed to the store’s proximity to churches, preschools and other businesses that attract large numbers of kids, such as a martial-arts school in the strip mall and a nearby pediatrician’s office.

The commission’s limit applies only to the sale of hard liquor. Beer and wine would be allowed to be sold until the store closes at midnight.

The Christians had hoped to bring as many as 40 neighbors to City Hall for the commission’s meeting, but only about half a dozen showed up. However, they presented to the commission a petition signed by 99 neighbors opposed to letting the store sell hard liquor.

“I’m happy they did something, but I’m not happy with the result,” Tammie Christian said.

Her husband said the couple – parents of three young children – plan to appeal the matter to the state Alcohol Beverage Control Department, suggesting neighbors were not given proper notification the store was applying to sell hard liquor.

To sell liquor in California, a business must get approval from both the state and the municipality in which it does business.

Saib Alrobadi is one of three brothers who owns the store. They also own a 7-11 at Bouquet Canyon and Plum Canyon roads, as well as a gas station at Newhall Avenue and 2nd Street.

Assuring the commission that he would be vigilant about the quality-of-life concerns expressed by the neighbors, Alrobadi said, “You’re not going to find trash, you’re not going to find crime. He added that if he sees loiterers around the store, “we’ll tell them to leave or we’re going to call the cops.”

In passing the measure, the Planning Commission heard research from city officials saying that the state ABC and the local Sheriff’s Department “had no concerns” with the proposal to let the store sell hard liquor.

Commissioner Lisa Eichman was the lone vote against the compromise. She had suggested one condition for approving the hard-liquor sales would be requiring the owners to provide a security guard during certain hours – a motion that did not receive a second. Vice Chairman Tim Burkhart was absent for the proceedings.

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