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Artesia City Council Grants 7-Eleven 24-Hour Permit

 

By Rico Dizon

The Artesia City Council, at its March 9 meeting, approved a 24-hour operating permit to the 7-Eleven convenience store  located on the southeast corner of South St. and Norwalk Blvd., the vote was 5-0 with Council Member Ali Taj voting via tele-conference from Washington D.C.

The approval came following the report and recommendation from City Staff headed by City Manager William Rawlings.

“I am approving it but without alcohol sales. If there is alcohol sales, I will change my perspective,” said Mayor Miguel Canales.

In September of last year, the City Council approved a request by Andrea Munoz on behalf of the owners, Thrifty Oil Co., to build a 2400 sq. ft. retail building in the same location. Local residents, who felt 7-Eleven Corporate was once again trying to put a store at the location after failing in 2010, strongly objected to the proposal.

To cite just one of several negative comments from the public in that meeting:

“It was a big issue four years ago, 7-Eleven has been setting up stores from state to state and city to city and findings indicate that there is an increase of crime activities as a result of the stores’ presence. They were not welcomed in 2010 and we don’t want them in 2014,” voiced Artesia resident Gene Ramirez.

ln last Monday’s meeting, Ramirez, who did not attend, but attended two weeks ago, called his colleague Rene Trivino, a baseball coach in Artesia, to tell him that a decision had been made on the issue.

During that meeting two weeks ago, Trivino showed pictures of graffiti around his area of residence. “We know that alcohol sales make 7-Eleven successful. I urge you not to accept the application.”

Trivino’s opinion, however, was drowned out by the robust support of the Artesia Chamber of Commerce represented by its president, Parimal Shaw, past president, Manu Patel, and another officer Bipin Morari.

Moreover, the City Council in general has argued that well-lit convenience stores deter the commission of crimes. “Criminals would prefer ghost-like places to do their acts,” said Council Member Sally Flowers.

Mayor Pro Tem Victor Manalo even invited Sgt. Greg Knapp of the Sheriff’s Dept. to share his  observation, as there is already a 7-Eleven standing on Artesia and Norwalk Blvd. Knapp stated, “they are very cooperative and have no major concerns.”

According to the staff report, “no general public hearing notice has been published, posted or distributed to the surrounding property owners informing them of tonight’s hearing because the Code does not require such notice.”

But, back in September, then City Council Member Manalo told the big turnout of residents, “we will make sure that you are all notified for the public hearing on this issue.”

During the same meeting last year, then Mayor Pro Tem Canales acknowledged the legitimate concerns of the public, ” I am a teacher and I have a young son. I certainly would not allow these children to be exposed to an unfavorable environment.”

During the September meeting, Canales also brought up the environmental issues on the site of a former gas station. “Make sure that the industrial waste has been removed and a thorough soil analysis is completed before it will be ready for building.”

There was no confirmation of an analysis in last Monday’s meeting.

Staff reported that, “the project is categorically exempt under CEQA Guidelines because the area is not considered environmentally sensitive.”

The report further said, “staff reviewed the proposed project and did not find any evidence that special circumstances exist that would create adverse effect on environment.”

One Artesia resident, who did not want to be identified, told HMG-CN, “this is going to continue to unravel, will the store apply for a conditional permit to sell alcohol next time?”

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