PALMDALE – Considering public approval against protests, the City Council voted 4-1 at Wednesday’s meeting to approve a conditional use permit (CUP) for a family market seeking to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises.
Newly-appointed Councilman Fred Thompson was the lone dissenter in the vote, noting that the council should not support a fourth “Off-Sale General” license where the maximum has already been reached with three issued licenses for that area of Palmdale. An Off-Sale General (Type 21) license issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control allows for alcoholic beverages to be purchased but not consumed on the business’s premises.
Thompson said the council’s approval would send the message that it’s okay to issue licenses to areas in the city already saturated with alcohol sales licenses.
“It seems to me that if the maximum number for that census tract is three and they [ABC] issue four, and we come up with the CUP and facilitate that – we’re setting a dangerous precedent,” Thompson said. “I don’t feel that we should be facilitating this, no matter how restrictive our CUP’s are.”
Speakers from the community took issue with the crime reporting level for the area of the applicant’s business, Maldonado Restaurant Inc., which is located at 1060 E. Palmdale Blvd., Suite 106.
According to a city staff report, the average number of reported crimes for the applicant’s district is above “the average number of reported crimes of all 33 reporting districts in Palmdale.”
Kamal Al-Khatib, president of the American Islamic Institute of the Antelope Valley, spoke passionately against the city approving the market’s application for the permit.
“There are already three (licensed) establishments, according to (ABC’s) quota,” Al-Khatib said. “There is no need to establish another one … We don’t need another liquor store to help increase the crime. We need to be more careful in our position to protect the children. Public safety is more important, I urge you to uphold the decision of the Planning Commission by denying this project and tell them that enough is enough.”
Palmdale businessman Samuel Roman spoke in favor of the Maldonado family, saying they are not looking to capitalize on alcohol sales but to provide an additional service to their customers.
“I’ve heard what is going on in this area and why we have a lot of problems,” Roman said. “But this family runs a good business, and I really recommend you approve their permit. They will do the right thing, and nothing they do will affect the kids.”
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Lackey explained the council’s decision as weighing the options between free enterprise and public safety issues.
“We have to be careful when we start to regulate people and people’s willingness to make choices,” Lackey said. “Where we really need to be careful is when we tell people when they can or cannot make a living.”
The motion to approve the market’s permit for alcohol sales was passed with the condition that sales of “single cold can” beverages be prohibited and that employee verifications for responsible beverage service training be posted in a public area at the market.
The council’s approval of the applicant’s conditional use permit settles the Planning Commission’s Feb. 13 public hearing, which lacked “sufficient affirmative votes for approval,” according to the report. At that meeting, two commissioners voted to approve the CUP, two voted to disapprove, and one abstained. The matter then had gone to the City Council when the applicant appealed the commission’s decision.