SAN RAFAEL – Approval of a Mi Pueblo Food Center store in a vacant Circuit City building in the Canal area of the city has been appealed a second time, and a local nonprofit alcohol-consumption watchdog group also filed an appeal.
In her second appeal of the proposed store at 330 Bellam Ave., Ruth Donohugh, owner of Picante restaurant adjacent the site, on Tuesday filed an appeal to the City Council, alleging the city Planning Commission erred in its approval of the project July 14. [See "Appeal of approved Mi Pueblo grocery in San Rafael denied," July 15, 2009.]
In the seven-page document, she asserted the foodservice portion of the project is not a deli but a "fast food restaurant" with parking needs required under zoning for a "high-volume" establishment.
"The massive Mi Pueblo fast food restaurant cannot be ignored simply by placing it within a larger building or enterprise," she wrote in the second appeal. "It is a separate use in a mixed-use project that requires additional parking."
The Planning Commission called the foodservice portion to be within the square footage requirements to be considered an ancillary use to a grocery store when compared to other nearby modern stores.
She called on the City Council to require a conditional use permit be obtained for the project.
Ms. Donohugh appealed a city Zoning Administrator's May 20 approval of the project to the Planning Commission for similar reasons. However, her contention with the proposed allowance of the sale of alcoholic beverages from the first appeal was absent in her second but was taken up in an appeal filed by The Marin Institute, which is based in the Canal area.
In a 10-page appeal, Executive Director Bruce Livingston argued that the Zoning Administrator and the Planning Commission didn't properly look at the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's guidelines for a finding of "public convenience or necessity" in allowing beverage license to be issued in an area with a high concentration of crime and existing beverage outlets.
Mr. Livingston asserted that there already are 29 alcoholic-beverage licensees within a few blocks, four programs that serve children operate out of the Marin Health & Wellness Campus next to the proposed store and 64 percent of the reported crimes in the immediate area, or 246, involved alcohol.
"Marin Institute has estimated that Marin County incurs a cost of $250 million annually due to alcohol harms," Mr. Livingston wrote. "Selling more alcohol in the Canal will only add to this cost, both in terms of economics and personal loss."
Planning department staff in a report for the Planning Commission hearing noted that state alcoholic beverage regulators were ready to issue a license upon city approval.
The City Council could hear the appeal as soon as September, depending on the schedules of those involved.