On November 2, the Planning Commission approved a new liquor store in a residential neighborhood. Big developers have found a loophole in the zoning code that allows them to build ‘General Markets’ in any multi family residentially zoned neighborhood. And sell liquor.
This case involves a vacant lot on the NWC of 2nd St and Hill St in Ocean Park, zoned Ocean Park Low Density Residential (OP2). The lot had 3 units of rent controlled apartments that were demolished without a permit in 1989. Developer Redcar bought the lot for $3.9 million for use as parking for their adjacent commercial project on Main St.
When confronted with the requirement of residential use, instead of building 3 units of housing, Redcar is putting in 2 residential units plus an alcohol serving market. The legislative history of the ‘General Markets’ section of code was to allow legacy non-conforming markets to continue operating – not to build new commercial in residential neighborhoods. And certainly not on a property that is within 300 feet of a commercial district.
Amongst those speaking against the project was the pastor of one of the churches and a Main St liquor store owner. Despite being adjacent to 2 churches and 2 pre-schools, and 100 feet away from the plethora of bars and liquor stores on Main St, the Planning Commission chose to ignore the clear language of the zoning code and the concerns of more than 45 neighbors who are already dealing daily with the negative spillover effects of all the alcohol on Main St. Giving the green light to any developer that wants to put a liquor store in any multi-family neighborhood.
Mark Gorman, Santa Monica