Only the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control stands in the way of the new CVS opening at the old Apple Tree Market.
  • Only the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control stands in the way of the new CVS opening at the old Apple Tree Market.
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CVS Pharmacy, which wants to set up shop in the long-abandoned Apple Tree supermarket in Ocean Beach, can breathe a long sigh of relief following a decision by the San Diego Police Department to not stand in the way of a license to sell beer, wine, and spirits.

The Type 21 liquor license must eventually be approved by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which is by no means a certainty. But police could have nearly stopped the process dead in its tracks because the building sits in a census tract that exceeds state guidelines for concentration of liquor licenses. Such a condition requires pre-approval from San Diego police — known legally as a finding of “public convenience or necessity.”

Police have made that determination in CVS's favor, Lt. Dan Plein of the police department's Vice Operations Unit confirmed in an email.

Plein said previously that public approval was one of the factors police consider when making the determination, but when CVS first asked for the support of the Ocean Beach Planning Board last November, the idea whipped up a crowd of more than three dozen citizens largely opposed to the idea.

Since then, CVS has agreed to a “community benefits package” proposed by the Ocean Beach Town Council. Among other things, CVS has agreed to host receptacles for town-council-sponsored holiday charity drives, restore the mural on the north side of the building, and be supportive of a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags.

Last month, two community groups — the planning board and the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association, which represents nearly 80 local businesses — voted in support of selling alcohol at CVS.

“[G]etting agreements worked out with the different community groups” weighed heavily in getting police approval, Plein said.

CVS has yet to formally submit the application, which requires the pharmacy chain to post a notice at the building at 4949 Santa Monica Avenue and opens up a 30-day period for any citizen to file a written protest, according to ABC's website.

CVS representatives have said they won't move in unless the liquor license is granted. The building has been vacant for more than a year.

Ed.: The author Tony de Garate also writes for the Peninsula Beacon, which published this letter to the editor on January 16:

To say that I was surprised that the Ocean Beach Planning Board was in support of CVS is an understatement. Horrified would be more appropriate. Even more appalling is the Ocean Beach Town Council and the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association negotiating with CVS representatives.

Wouldn’t the fact that CVS’s decision on whether or not it can sell alcohol give some indication of its “participation in the community?” And, isn’t this the same Ocean Beach MainStreet Association that is always complaining about the drunks harassing the shoppers and urinating in the storefronts?

The pledge CVS makes fallson a deaf ear. We already have two CVS stores within a 3-mile radius. How much more alcohol do they need to sell? Refreshing that a corporation wants to be a member of our community? Isn’t that the very thing we’ve been fighting to keep out of our community?

The best tenant we’re going to get. Really? What would they have offered that was so amazing?, according to [tax attorney] Ronson Shamoun.

Develop a process to allow local vendors to sell their wares? Be serious. We have the farmers market, the street fair … but that’s a whole other topic. Mr. Shamoun, who owns the OB Quick Stop and Newport Quick Stop, might be distracted by [CVS’s] amazing offers. [But] won’t they be competing directly with your ability to sell alcohol?

I think we should demand a supermarket. That is what we want. The fact that [CVS] will “evaluate the feasibility” of selling a limited amount of fruits and vegetables is another clue as to its sense of community.

As far as the police go, they will have a hard enough job without having to deal with more drunks and hassles from CVS selling alcohol, its primary focus. Not to mention CVS charges more for everything. Go to Rite Aid and CVS and compare.

One other thing, three CVS stores to one Rite Aid is not competitive. It’s monopolizing. Why the push for this so-called “community benefits package” that [Gretchen Kinney] Newsom, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council, brought before the Ocean Beach Town Council? Was this offered to Rite Aid? It’s no wonder why they would be less-than-enthusiastic to participate in this civic charade.

Let’s not overlook the real problem there — the landlord who raised the rent so they could force out Apple Tree Market. That is the real scourge. They deserve everything they don’t get from that store sitting vacant. Until a grocery store moves back in, I hope that lot dies a slow and agonizing death. If the Town Council and OB MainStreet Association have any sense of community, they will lobby for a supermarket at the site [4949 Santa Monica Ave.] because CVS is not the best tenant we’re going to get.

Steve Taylor, Ocean Beach

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