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City to Consider BevMo! Project

Mega Liquor Chain’s Plans to Open in San Roque Hit City Board Monday


Opponents of the BevMo! mega liquor store on Upper State Street say they’ll be out in force Monday evening when the City of Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review (ABR) considers BevMo! plans.

The growing list of opponents to the Beverages & more! wine, beer, and spirits chain’s proposed outlet in the now-vacant, former Thomasville building at 3052 State Street include the PTA at nearby Peabody Charter School, according to San Roque resident Jerry Vigil. Residents are also protesting a liquor license transfer being considered by the California Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) agency. No hearing date has been announced for that, however. Vigil contends that ABC license approval depends on the city’s approval of the project.

Vigil, who’s leading the fight against BevMo!, says the busy retail outlet — which would be located where De la Vina T-bones State Street — would be incompatible with the residential neighborhood, creating constant traffic, including deliveries. Neighbors behind the building, which housed a low-volume high-end furniture store, are objecting to what they see as noise day and night in an area that already has numerous liquor outlets. There is also a question of whether there is sufficient parking. The city is requiring 35 spaces.

But a little over a block away on State Street, the city allowed a Verizon outlet to move in with so little parking that employees fill many spots along adjoining East Calle Crespis, taking up residents’ parking places and causing antagonism. Residents say that, in effect, the city has given Verizon a free parking lot. Residents fear that BevMo! employees will likewise be forced to clog their streets.

On Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Gebhard Hearing Room at 630 Garden Street, the ABR will consider plans to raze the existing separate warehouse and part of the main building to allow for parking. The result will be an 8,999 square-foot building. Four trees will be moved and eight added, if approved.

On the liquor permit track, Leslie Pond, the ABC’s district administrator, says that the licensing issue now goes to the Santa Barbara Police Department to determine whether the additional retail outlet would meet “public convenience and necessity” standards. In other words, are there already too many liquor outlets in the area?

If police give the license transfer thumbs-down, ABC must deny it, according to Pond. However, BevMo! can appeal and a hearing on the issue will be held, Pond said. The reason for referring the matter to the city is because of the existing oversaturation of off-sale liquor stores in the census tract, he said. A longtime liquor store is located down the street, Trader Joe’s is just around the corner, and there are numerous supermarkets nearby. ABC consideration of the BevMo! license is still in its early stages, now that the protest period has ended, Pond said. It has been taking 90 to 100 days to process applications, Pond said.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or (805) 965-5205, Ext. 230. He writes online columns and a print column on Thursdays.

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