Palisades News Letters: Another View about PPCC, Chipotle

I write as an individual, on my own behalf, to clarify what occurred at the Community Council board meeting on July 27 regarding the Chipotle Conditional Use Beverage (CUB) application and to explain more broadly (from my point of view) what PPCC’s practice and positions have been with respect to other CUB applications.

I have served on the PPCC Board since 2007, was president from 2014-16, attended the 7/27 meeting as Chair/President Emeritus and also served as acting secretary for that meeting.

The News editorial of August 9 states that Chipotle was the only CUB application by a Palisades business since 2016 to be “rejected” by the Council. That statement is misleading and not entirely accurate. PPCC in fact took no position on the Chipotle application—it neither “rejected” nor supported the request.

In the case of Sam’s (which already had a permit to sell hard liquor and was seeking permission only to extend its operating hours and to operate an in-restaurant bar), the Board actually took a position of “no objection” (not affirmative support); in the case of Kay n’ Dave’s and Moku

Sushi, PPCC did affirmatively support the applications. All three were based on these restaurants’ track records of being responsibly run, as indicated in the editorial.

With Starbucks (which ended up withdrawing its application to serve beer and wine), PPCC’s support was expressly conditioned on the operating hours being limited to 4 p.m-close daily. And in the case of the Village Shell station (not referenced in the News editorial), PPCC’s initial position was to oppose the CUB application as written in 2015; later, when the application was amended and the matter returned to the Council in 2017, the Board took no position.

All of these matters are reflected in PPCC’s extensive meeting minutes, which are available to the public on at www.pacpalicc.org (minutes of 7/27 expected to be posted after final adoption at the 8/24 Board meeting).

Taking a “non-position” on a CUB application is not unusual for PPCC and to my knowledge has not resulted in denial of a CUB request in the past. In fact, as a practical matter, it is not necessary for PPCC to affirmatively “support” a CUB application in order for the requested permit to be granted.

An example is the case of Taste in the Highlands, which sought a CUB in 2014 to serve a full line of alcohol and came to PPCC to explain its request. The Board (consistent with its past practice) took no position on the matter. Taste was later able to inform the hearing officer that the Council did not take a position in opposition; the permit was granted and the community now enjoys alcoholic beverages at Taste.

As to positions on recent CUB applications, PPCC Chair Maryam Zar is entirely correct in noting that a consensus appears to be emerging that responsibly run restaurants which are well-known in the community deserve support (as reflected by unanimous votes in some of the cases referenced above). Even in the case of Chipotle (a fast-food-type restaurant without a track record in the Palisades), opinions were varied, with several meeting participants expressing concerns while others (not mentioned) clearly indicating support.

Supporters included one Board member who stated that he was “ecstatic” with Chipotle coming to the Palisades and had no problem with beer sales. Another Board member stressed that adults who wished to have a beer with their burrito should not be prevented from doing so, and noted that other Palisades businesses such as CVS and the grocery stores have effective gatekeeper procedures (which Chipotle also proposes) and are able to sell beer without incident despite the frequent presence of kids.

An audience member also related that she and other young people working in the Palisades were “excited” about Chipotle being here and providing a casual, affordable place to relax with a meal and a beer after work. I myself explained that I am a frequent Chipotle customer throughout the region and have not observed problems with beer sales at other locations.

In the end, no motion was offered either to support or oppose the Chipotle application and the PPCC Board did not take any position one way or the other.

A policy motion requires a two-thirds vote in order to become a PPCC position; it was clear from statements made at the meeting that a two-thirds vote could not be achieved either to support or oppose the requested CUB. In my opinion, the Board’s non-action on July 27 was responsible and proper in light of the varying opinions and evident lack of consensus at its meeting. More importantly, I believe based on experience that because PPCC did not affirmatively oppose the application, permission for onsite sales and service of beer will eventually be granted to Chipotle.

Christina Spitz

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