PALMDALE — The Planning Commission on Thursday approved permits for two new businesses to offer beer and wine for sale, despite some concerns the area was overcrowded with outlets selling alcohol.
The businesses – one already open and one being renovated – required conditional use permits for the sale of alcohol.
Sprouts Farmers Market is preparing to open on the site of the former Staples store at 39258 10th St. West in the Palmdale Marketplace mall, site of Best Buy and Barnes and Noble stores. Incidental alcohol sales are permitted under the center’s zoning, according to the staff report.
The grocery store has applied for the permit for the sale of beer and wine for off-site consumption, as it is a full-service grocery store. With alcohol making up less than 5% of its total sales volume, providing one-stop shopping for buyers is an important part of its business plan, said Sprouts representative Terri Dickerhoff.
Commissioner Marcos Alvarez, who was on the Commission at the start of the meeting, wondered how the sale of alcohol fits the market profile for the sale of healthy food.
“The focus is not on alcohol; it’s on groceries, sundries,” Dickerhoff said.
Black Bear Diner, a restaurant that recently opened at 40026 10th St. West, has applied for a permit to sell beer and wine on-site to accompany its menu. Like Sprouts, liquor sales are considered incidental to its core business.
Although there were reports of crime near the two businesses, none were alcohol-related, according to the staff report. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department did not object to the permits.
In order to approve the permits for the two companies, the Commission had to make a determination of utility or public purpose.
Under the formula set out in the Municipal Code, both locations are in areas that exceed the number of licensed liquor outlets and are in areas considered high crime.
However, the area has a high commercial density, as predicted by zoning, and therefore is not inconsistent with the Municipal Code, said assistant planner Sarah Stachnik.
Although these may preclude the granting of a liquor sales license, the Board may approve it if it deems it convenient or necessary.
Xavier Flores, representing the Antelope Valley League of United Latin American Citizens and a longtime supporter of limiting alcohol and tobacco outlets in the 93550 zip code, opposed both permits.
He said the area has more outlets than the state liquor control commission would allow without exception, and that the commission should consider the crime not just at the specific location, but for the entire reporting district.
“Don’t look at an outlet; take a look at the mass of outlets in the area because that is what is causing the crime,” he said. “The area is already saturated with outlets, and that’s causing crime, not just to this outlet, but to this area and the residents who live near it are the ones bearing the brunt of it.”
The Sprouts permit was approved by a 4-1 vote, with Alvarez dissenting.
The Black Bear Diner permit was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Alvarez again dissenting, along with new commissioner Getro Elise.
Alvarez and Elise were named at Wednesday’s city council meeting.