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Convenience Store on Park Get Thumbs Up

The Alameda Planning Board met last night, October 12, and approved the request for a permit to open a convenience store at 1623 Park Street — despite the fact that more than 400 letters and comments had been received opposing it in August and again in September and October .

You can find some of these opposing statements online, including a letter from the Starland Music Center, at 1631 Park.

However, the owners of the building that will house the convenience store explained that the space has been without a tenant for about half of the past 10 years.

The main tipping point, as far as the city is concerned, is that there is no city limit on the number of convenience stores (or nail shops, for instance) that can be located within the city.

Note that the only reason this convenience store had to go before the Planning Board was due to the fact that it is within 300 feet of a residence.

The good news for some community members is that while the store was aiming to focus on tobacco products, these products will now take up only about 10 percent of the retail area — less than planned.

According to the city, the building that will house the convenience store is not historic and has been vacant. And while there are several convenience stores nearby, that is not enough to limit or restrict further convenience stores from opening.

With a minimal expected impact on nearby residents, in its view, the Planning Board approved the use permit for the convenience store four to one.

The business owner, Abdulmalik Harbi, now has to get a business license and certifcate of occupany before he can open the shop, to be called Better Trade Discount.

The lesson for Alamedans who don’t want convenience shops or more salons opening up is that a major change in city policy is needed. There are many East Bay neighborhoods that have a large number of similar businesses crowded into one area, so Alameda isn’t alone in this respect.

But those hoping for more commercial diversity on the Island have to make a broader case — and a big fight — if they want to bring about such change.

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Alameda: Smoking in doorways

There is almost no time you can walk by the Lemon Tree on Santa Clara Avenue and not get a face full of smoke. Step through the door of some of our nicest local cafes and you will, from time to time, walk through a plume of smokey air. In order to prevent that unpleasant health hazard, many jurisdictions have passed ordinances disallowing smoking in public spaces. California state law, for example, prohibits smoking within 20 feet of the doorways of public buildings. And right now Martinez is considering a host of laws governing smoking in public spaces, including bans on smoking within 20-feet of any enclosed area where smoking is already prohibited as well as at parks, bus stops and public events.

Straight from Wikipedia (for your easy perusal) here is a sampling of bans on smoking in effect in California:

Belmont, October 9, 2007, banned in parks and other public places, as well as inside apartments and condominiums.

Berkeley, March 26, 2008, banned smoking all commercially zoned sidewalks

Burbank, April, 2007, banned in most public places including outdoor dining and shopping areas, parks, service lines and within 20 feet of all building entrances/exits.

Calabasas, 2006, banned in all indoor and outdoor public places, except for a handful of scattered, designated outdoor smoking areas in town. Believed to be the strictest ban in the United States.

Los Angeles, 2007, banned in all city parks.

San Diego, July 11, 2006, banned smoking at all City of San Diego beaches and parks, including all beaches from La Jolla to Sunset Cliffs.

San Jose, October 2007, banned in all city parks.

You can check out Wikipedia’s list of smoking bans from around the country here.