2012-08-17 / Front Page
Developer looking to gas up Simi intersection
A developer is looking to give a shuttered Simi gas station a facelift, but nearby business owners are not pleased to see new competition in the area, especially since the proposed convenience store would be selling booze.
Ahmad Ghaderi of A & S Engineering, a Canyon Countrybased firm that provides engineering, consulting and construction management services for oil companies, presented the proposed rebuild to the city’s Neighborhood Council No. 2 on Tuesday for its review.
On behalf of the owner, A & S Engineering is requesting a permit to build a new convenience store and four-pump gas station at 1369 Erringer Road.
Located at the northwest corner of Royal Avenue and Erringer Road, next to Rancho Simi Community Park, the site operated as a 76 gas station for a long time but has been closed for the past five years.
“We have been working with city staff for the past 2½ years to come up with a design,” Ghaderi said. “We think we have come up with a site plan that meets or exceeds all design elements that the city has put in front of us.”
The project involves tearing down the existing structures on the half-acre site and constructing a new 2,870-square-foot food mart along the western perimeter and a detached canopy structure with four gas pump islands east of the store. The fueling station would again be a 76 and the market is proposed to be open 24 hours a day.
Since the old station has sat idle for years, many residents are happy to see what they called a “beautiful” new project that will breathe life into the corner.
“The facility looks really nice and I definitely think it will increase the aesthetics of that intersection,” said Thomas Hartfield, a member of the Neighborhood Council No. 2 executive board.
The council expressed some concerns regarding how the new station would impact traffic flow at the intersection—which has a yield at the northwest corner— especially since there are several schools nearby.
But most of the outcry at Tuesday’s meeting came from members of the audience—local business owners who do not approve of the project, particularly because the on-site market would be selling beer and wine.
The prior station market did not sell alcohol.
“There is a liquor store on every corner,” said Thousand Oaks resident Maria Cipres, who has owned and operated Quik Stop Market at Erringer Road and Heywood Street with her husband, Martin, for the past 13 years. “My main concern is how many more locations are we going to be selling liquor and wine . . . in Simi Valley? Look at the population. There’s too many.”
Quik Stop is less than a mile north of the project site and sells beer, wine and liquor.
“You gotta understand that, yeah, it might bring some revenue to the city, but by opening this business here, it is going to put a couple little stores out of business, like ours,” Martin Cipres told Ghaderi and the council. “It is going to look beautiful on that corner but . . . you are going to take us out of business.”
Eric Lee, who has owned the strip mall property adjacent to the site for 15 years, said the neighborhood already has a problem with homeless and drunks and that it’s not a good idea to introduce another beerand wine retailer into an area so close to schools and a park.
“It’s really a bad area, so we don’t want it to get worse than this,” Lee said.
Lee’s nephew, Peter Cha, owns a business on his property: Cali Liquor. While he also doesn’t like the idea of more competition, Cha is worried the new food mart will “dominate” over the strip mall, blocking the view of businesses as drivers travel west on Royal.
“That building is going to kill my plaza right there,” Cha said.
The group said they would like to see the site be something completely different from what is proposed, such as a bookstore, fast-food restaurant or car wash.
Ghaderi said the site has long been a gas station and while it didn’t previously sell alcohol, he said the new food mart would have to comply with requirements for selling beer and wine as set by the city and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
“The site is not going to be a liquor store, it would simply be packaged beer and wine for takehome use,” he said, adding that alcohol sales would run between 22 and 24 percent of gross sales.
When the council asked if the owner would consider not selling beer and wine, Ghaderi indicated no.
“It is something consumers expect at a convenience center,” he said.
While the executive board shared some of the residents’ concerns, it ultimately felt there was not much it could do except note them in the record since the business would not be breaking any city regulations by selling alcohol. However, the council said it would like to bring to the City Council’s attention the need to keep track of how many businesses have liquor licenses and their proximity to one another and sites like churches, parks and schools.
The council voted unanimously to recommend approval of the project to the planning commission, which will hear the proposal at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Wed., Aug. 22.