DOUGLAS PARK — Residents will have an opportunity to get their voices heard on parking issues and alcohol sales at a Fresh & Easy market planned for the Mid City Neighborhood at a community meeting Thursday night.
The market is expected to take the place of the Magnolia Audio Video store at 2800 Wilshire Blvd., and while some residents seem enthused about the idea of a grocery store within walking distance of their homes, others worry that the market will entail more gridlock with no parking.
That fear comes from a request by the company to allow 38 on-site parking spots rather than the 50 spots required by Santa Monica’s municipal code.
Another 17 spots would be sought off-site with five coming from the nearby 2811 Wilshire Blvd. and 12 further away at 3201 Wilshire Blvd., according to the project’s description that was sent out to community members.
Details on those leases including the term and whether or not they stay with the property if the grocery store fails were not forthcoming on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, those spots, along with the 11 short-term bicycle parking spaces at the building’s two entrances, encompass all of the parking proposed for the 13,000 square-foot building.
Those spaces as well as six secure parking spots for employee bicycles would serve the customers and the 10 to 12 employees that would be on duty at any given time.
The project is expected to employ 30 people total.
That could be a significant problem, said Gregg Heacock, head of Mid City Neighbors, the local neighborhood organization.
That part of Wilshire Boulevard is already plagued by traffic, and adding another destination without sufficient parking for the people that it draws will cause backups and force people into the neighborhoods to seek a place to park.
“We only have so much room,” Heacock said.
The store is also requesting permission for deliveries in the early hours of the morning, which would consist of one Fresh & Easy truck between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and between three and five vendor trucks during the hours of 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Access for those trucks, and the noise they’ll create in the morning, raise red flags for neighbors.
Still, the idea of the store, which provides relatively low-cost fresh, frozen prepared and dried foods — many of which are organic — appeals to the neighborhood.
Emilio Guerra lives immediately adjacent to the proposed location.
Although he can drive to a Ralphs, Albertsons or Whole Foods fairly close to the location, it would be more convenient to stay out of the car and walk to Fresh & Easy.
“I think it would be good, but I’m worried about the parking,” Guerra said. “I would love to have the organic food, but I feel like it would be cluttered.”
A new grocery store on Wilshire Boulevard is only another piece of the larger problem, Heacock said.
“What we lack, at the end of the day, is a real plan to deal with the gridlock that’s just enormous in this city,” Heacock said.
The community meeting will be held Thursday, March 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Douglas Park Clubhouse at 2439 Wilshire Blvd.
Representatives for Fresh & Easy and staff from the Planning Department will be on hand to answer questions about the project.