A heated and vociferous standing-room-only crowd attended the Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting on November 6. Residents were there to hear and discuss the proposal to allow alcohol sales in a new, as-yet-unestablished CVS Pharmacy in the former Apple Tree Market location at 4949 Santa Monica Avenue.
Several locals, including O.B. Town Council president Gretchen Kinney Newsom, got up and spoke against the project and tried to convey the need for fresh produce and more grocery items — not more alcohol.
The former owner of the Apple Tree Market, Saad Hirmez, claimed that if CVS did open in his former building, he would open a new Apple Tree Market in the former Bank of America building on Newport Avenue.
Planning board member John Ambert claimed the statement was tantamount to extortion.
O.B. MainStreet Association president Denny Knox asked if the company would leave some of the parking lot open to non-CVS customers. The rep for CVS, Tom Wilheim, said they would comply with city codes and will try to work with the community on that issue.
Wilheim claimed 20 to 30 new jobs would be created at the 15,000-square-foot store, which would be mostly devoted to beauty and pharmacy products; 224 square feet would be set aside for liquor sales. A projected 5 percent of sales would be attributable to alcohol. Wilheim also claimed CVS has never offered fresh groceries, but the company is willing to look into it.
Craig Klein wanted CVS to agree to no alcohol sales after dark and more security onsite, which CVS claims it will have in the form of a security guard on duty during all operating hours.
Wilheim also stated that the owner of the building tried to market the building to several grocery stores, but no one was interested. There have been claims that the rent on the building has been the prohibitive factor and is in the $50,000-per-month range.
In the end, the planning board decided to hold off making a decision on whether or not to approve the liquor permit for 90 days, so more information can be presented to the community.
A representative from the SDPD was also present at the meeting; they are required to issue a report that will shed more light on how more alcohol sales would affect the community.