During a public hearing on March 9, the Vista City Council reviewed an appeal of the planning commission’s approval for a proposed ARCO AM/PM at the North Santa Fe Village shopping center located on the 1200 block of N. Santa Fe Avenue.
On February 2, the planning commission approved the retail sale of beer and wine at the proposed gas station. Shortly thereafter, an appeal was filed by a neighbor representing residents known as Vista Residents for Compatible Development.
According to the community group, the area is known for having a high crime rate. The site was formerly occupied by an independent gas operation and it is part of a shopping center with a vacancy rate of nearly 50 percent.
Mo Rosenberg, who spoke on behalf of the community group, said, “The health, welfare, and safety of Vista’s citizens cannot and must not be sacrificed for convenience.”
Hy Sao, owner of the business, argued that leaving the site abandoned would have a worse impact on crime and the community. Sao stated that obtaining a license to sell alcohol is an integral part in bringing the franchise to Vista. He also mentioned that his ability to finance the project is dependent on bringing the ARCO brand.
“We feel that it’s the best intended use for this now-closed site,” said Sao. “We’d help attract future tenants and adjacent businesses and therefore increase land values.”
According to the city clerk, 212 signatures were submitted opposing the project; 609 signatures were submitted by the applicant in favor of the gas station and the sale of alcohol. The city council voted unanimously to approve the gas station and allow for the sale of beer and wine, despite loud protests from some members of the audience.
Mayor Morris Vance said, “I am not a particular fan of alcohol, but I believe the blight that’s caused there and the nuisances there would lead to a greater problem for the community than what this [gas station] will do.”