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 .
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.