By Mary O’KEEFE
Starbucks will not be having its Evenings program at the location at the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue in Montrose it was decided Wednesday night.
Starbucks Evenings program was first rolled out in a Starbucks in Seattle, Washington in 2010. The next year the company expanded to several locations in Chicago and then in 2012 took the program to Atlanta and Southern California.
The program includes a new menu of food items and the offering of wine and beer. In October 2015 a City of Glendale Notice of Pending Decision went up at the Montrose Starbucks notifying the public of the company’s request to expand its menu.
On Dec. 10 the city’s Planning Dept. approved the Conditional Use Permit (CUP)with specific conditions. The public was given time to appeal that decision. Local resident Kim Mattersteig filed an appeal and the meeting was held last night, Wednesday, to determine the Evenings’ fate before the Planning Commission.
Keith Glassman of Glassman Planning Associates Inc. spoke for Starbucks at the Planning Commission meeting. He cited other Starbucks, including one in Pasadena, that have been operating the Evenings program without incident. During the hearing’s public comment period a local resident in support of the program in Montrose said she and her husband had visited that Pasadena Starbucks and found it to be clean and pleasant and would have no concerns with an similar program in Montrose.
But the majority of those at the hearing of about 30 community members were against the program being introduced at the Montrose location.
Mattersteig told the Commission she was not against having a glass of wine, not against the Evenings program or Starbucks, but simply did not think the store in Montrose was the right fit. Her concerns included the number of underage kids that frequent that Starbucks after school between the hours of 3:30 p.m. and 9 or 10 p.m., the saturation of eating establishments that sell alcohol within a few blocks of Starbucks (as of Wednesday night that number was 31) and the ability to monitor customers with alcohol.
The monitoring issue was a concern for all members of the Commission who knew and had frequented the Montrose Starbucks to observe the clientele.
“There are a lot of kids,” said Commissioner Leonard Manoukian. “There were times I have had to leave it was so crowded.”
Community members, including business owners and youth, showed their opposition to the Evenings program by voicing similar concerns on the over saturation of alcohol-serving establishments within such a small area.
Under Glendale’s statute, Starbucks is considered a fast food restaurant. Those served are expected to be in and out of the location faster than a sit-down restaurant. This affected the parking requirements when Starbucks received its original CUP. But some who spoke during public comment said that if the Evenings program was approved customers would sit at a table to have a glass of wine or beer and food service and would no longer be “in and out” of the location.
Commission members Manoukian, Stephanie Landregan and Greg Astorian all voiced their concerns of allowing a fast food establishment to sell alcohol.
“What do we do when Carl’s Junior or Burger King comes with a [request]?” asked Manoukian.
Crescenta Valley High School students voiced their concerns as well. Jessy Shelton, a junior, asked for Starbucks to remain the same and not sell alcohol. Brandon Budwig, also a junior, echoed Shelton and added that he knows that kids “are sneaky” and can get alcohol a number of ways, so why give them another opportunity?
“This is a wrong fit,” said Commissioner Chang Lee.
Although Starbucks representatives continued to point out the safety of the program and that their demographic was women 18 to 30 years old, the Commissioners had all been at the location and had seen the number of youth clientele.
“You are a victim of your own success,” Astorian said, referring to so many young kids patronizing Starbucks.
In the end the Planning Commission unanimously voted against the Evenings program at the Montrose Shopping Park location.
Mattersteig was obviously relieved at the outcome.
“They said we couldn’t do this,” Mattersteig said of the opposition to Starbucks.
“This case has been reversed and denied,” Lee said.
Mattersteig and those who supported her cheered.