Viewpoint: Pacific Palisades Community Council’s CUP Positions Explained

By Maryam Zar
Pacific Palisades Community Council president

We live in a police state,” was the last thing I heard as I adjourned the July 27 Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting. A woman in the back stood in protest and I thought she was complaining about the fact that we had run out of time for discussion.

Over the next few weeks, I learned that the objection had not been to the inability to be heard, but to our Board’s failure to approve the Conditional Use Alcohol Beverage Permit (CUB) that Chipotle has applied for, to sell beer (and wine) at its Sunset/Monument location.

PPCC serves in an advisory role to the City. In the case of CUBs, the City looks to us for direction when there is overwhelming opposition to be shown. PPCC had chosen to take up the Chipotle matter to allow an open discussion among Palisadians as to the pending application for beer and wine sales. We had been told that wine would not be served, and I wanted to ensure that this was restated publicly, at the Community Council meeting.

The discussion which ensued revealed a lack of consensus.

Board members and the audience seemed to have varying degrees of worry or comfort with respect to a local fast-food chain selling beer during the day. Some people thought those who expressed uneasiness that young people would be adversely influenced if they were to see beer sold in casual tandem “with a burrito,” were overreacting. Some thought the overt sale of beer at a location kids frequent was not in keeping with the spirit of this town.

One board member questioned whether table monitoring would be sufficient to ensure that people below legal drinking age would not have the opportunity to finish an open bottle of beer, or even be handed a bottle after another person had made the purchase. The exchange unveiled that Chipotle would not be using an automated identification verification system. This technology had been introduced to us by the operators of the proposed Shell station mini-mart, who had pledged to implement the technology without fail at their cash register.

A handful of people expressed a general level of concern with beer being sold during the day in a restaurant that targeted young people as a customer base. Others were comfortable with the sale of beer (and wine), and emphatically expressed their point of view. There was no preponderance of support or opposition.

During that same meeting, we had taken up another CUB for Sam’s by the Beach: a long-established restaurant on W. Channel Road in Santa Monica Canyon. In this case, we reached a clear consensus.

In the end, we simply took no position on one (Chipotle), and took a position of no opposition on another (Sam’s). More importantly, we provided a forum for Palisadians to be able to discuss their thoughts about these two CUBs.

More CUBs will undoubtedly come before the PPCC, and our At-Large rep has requested that we frame our discussions with a standard of review. Our Land Use Committee will work to articulate those standards, and make recommendations to the Board. Our objective will be to allow candid discussion until it can be determined whether there is a consensus or not. If there is, we will convey that in a motion. If not, we will remain silent, as we did with Chipotle.

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