The Pleasanton Planning Commission appeared luke warm after hearing a proposal by a long-time gas station owner to add a 24-hour 7-Eleven convenience store and automated car wash on the corner site at Santa Rita Road and West Las Positas Boulevard.
Three objectors showed up to voice their gripes at at last Wednesday's informal meeting of the commission, held to discuss the proposal by Michael Roseberry, owner of the Valero brand station. Still others sent emails to Planning commissioners and city staff asking that the additions not be allowed.
Some of the objections cited concerns over increased traffic, pedestrian safety, noise and crime. Most, however, voiced strong opposition to plans by the proposed 7-Eleven to sell alcohol.
Even though Planning commissioners took no action at the meeting, several asked Roseberry and his representative, Brad Hirst, to hold neighborhood meetings to see if some accommodate could be reached in support of the station's expansion.
As proposed, the 7-Eleven would sell beer and wine and stay open 24 hours a day. State law, however, bans selling alcohol between 2 -6 a.m.
The station is two-tenths of a mile from Fairlands Elementary School on West Las Positas Boulevard and is the corner retailer at the corner of the Santa Rita Square/Meadow Plaza shopping centers that now include the Walmart Neighborhood Market that opened in July. Girasole, an Italian restaurant next t o the station, closed lat last month but is expected to be reopened under new ownership.
Hirst said the 7-Eleven and car wash would help Roseberry increase customer traffic at the station. With automobiles today requiring skilled service technicians and computerized equipment, smaller stations such as Roseberry's need to have food stores and car washes to keep customers and attract new ones.
He said students walking to Fairlands Elementary generally don't pass through Santa Rita Square since the only sidewalk on West Las Positas is on the other side of the street. The 7-Eleven store would add all-day and late night convenience to the neighborhood as well as motorists, Hirst added, and the car wash would be located on the south side of the station, far from any homes.
Roseberry has operated a gas station at the site for 49 years and serves many from the neighborhood. The station has seven fueling islands under a canopy, with access to the pumps and station office from one driveway off Las Positas and two off Santa Rita.
The proposal before planners also seeks to extend the gas station's hours from 5 a.m. to midnight to a full 24 hours a day. The car wash, which would be coin operated by the motorist who would remain in the car, would be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The existing auto service bays at the station would remain, with the taller adjoining 7-Eleven building including a tower element at the store's entrance that would be 26 feet high.
City planner Jenny Soo pointed out in her analysis of the Valero application that the property's current commercial district zoning would have to be changed to Planned Unit Development-Commercial District in order to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages at the gas station.
Soo also noted that none of the businesses in the adjoining shopping center, including Walmart, do not operate 24 hours a day.
Emails and calls from residents on Weymouth Court and West Las Positas Boulevard expressed concerns and objections to a 24-hour store, Soo said. City staff has also received calls from other residents in the Fairlands neighborhood expressing similar concerns.
But none of the businesses in the two adjoining shopping centers have objected to the plan. Hirst said he also notified the principal of Fairlands Elementary about the plan and the Planning Commission meeting, but has had no response.
The applicant provided city officials with a survey of the operating hours of service stations and convenience markets throughout the city, which included 10 gas stations, two 7-Eleven stores, one AM-PM market and two Starbucks and one Pete's coffee shops. Among the 10 surveyed gas stations, seven are open 24 hours and have either a convenience store or a snack shop. In addition, among the surveyed gas stations, five sell alcoholic beverages in the convenience store/snack shop.
Besides urging Hirst and station owner Roseberry to review their plans with those living close to the station, two commissioners, Planning Commission chairwoman Jennifer Pearce and newly-appointed commissioner Nancy Allen, also gave their views on the application:
"I don't feel that this is the right fit in the neighborhood," Allen said. "I agree with Allen," added Pearce.