One Day Left to Protest Sale of Alcohol at the Future OB CVS Pharmacy

by on June 25, 2014 · 34 comments

in Civil Rights

No One Has Filed Complaint Yet – June 26th Is Deadline

By Tony de Garate

The final hours are winding down on a 30-day period to protest an application to sell beer, wine and spirits at a future CVS Pharmacy at 4949 Santa Monica Ave., according to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

June 26 is the last day ABC will allow any citizen to protest the sale of alcohol at CVS, which is planning to take over the building that has been lifeless since the departure of Apple Tree Market at the end of 2012.

Protest forms are available at and may be hand delivered or submitted by fax or email. As of last week, no one had filed a protest, confirmed Maritza Gonzalez, an ABC licensing representative, in an email.

Though the chain hasn’t said so explicitly, CVS apparently has been confident of an outcome in its favor. Two signs on the front wall of the former Apple Tree market offer telltale clues that reveal the pharmacy’s cheery outlook.

OB CVS notice sale alc tdgLast month, CVS formally applied for the license and posted a legally required notice in the front window of the former Apple Tree market. When the pharmacy confirmed last September it was pursuing a lease on the long-vacant building, it stressed it would only do so if granted the right to sell alcohol.

As if to declare the license a foregone conclusion, an eye-catching, red-and-white banner announcing “CVS Pharmacy – Coming Soon” was also posted on the same wall high above the license application notice.

If CVS survives the protest period, it would likely receive a license in 55 to 65 days. A protest, on the other hand, if found to be valid and not withdrawn after negotiations, could result in several months of investigations, hearings and appeals, according to an ABC flow chart that outlines the steps in the determination of a liquor license application.

And, unless CVS has had a change of heart since last year, the chain won’t open shop without a liquor. (Steve Laub, president and owner of Land Solutions, Inc., a local project management consulting firm overseeing the permitting process for CVS, did not return phone calls or emails for this story.)

CVS’s application to sell liquor comes five months after the pharmacy obtained resolutions of support from two community groups – the Ocean Beach Planning Board and Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association. That support was crucial because the property resides in a census tract that has more liquor licenses than the state allows.

Such a condition requires preapproval from the San Diego Police’s Vice Permits and Licensing Unit, known as a finding of “public convenience or necessity.”

Police made that finding in CVS’s favor earlier this year, citing community support and the chain’s acceptance of a Community Benefits Package that was proposed by the Ocean Beach Town Council.

Before applying for the liquor license, CVS negotiated a lease agreement with the building’s Los Angeles-based owner, Elliot Megdal of Megdal and Associates.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

objamie June 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Ah yes…the non-legally binding COMMUNITY BENEFITS PACKAGE.

CVS is responsible to one entity- SHAREHOLDERS.


Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Then get in there and protest their sale of alcohol.


Tyler June 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

CVS will eventually remove alcohol from their stores just like they are with tobacco. They are attempting to become a one-stop shop for health and want to eventually phase out other things. It won’t be for several years, but it will happen. They want to focus more on clinics, especially with the ACA now in effect. I would hope they will have a clinic in the new OB location, which would be a great addition to our community. I hate having to go my physician when it’s something that can be done in 15 minutes at the pharmacy.

As much as I hate increasing the amount of alcohol sales, in this specific case I find it better to let CVS open and get rid of a massively blighted half square block in the heart of OB. There just aren’t other realistic options for what can go in there at this juncture.


Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm

That’s naive. CVS will do whatever makes them the most money, and to hell with anything or anybody else including neighbors, employees, suppliers and customers. They only phased out tobacco because the calculated the dollar value of the PR was higher than the dollar value of their tobacco sales. The only way you’ll see a clinic there is if CVS determines that’s the path to the most profit.

Personally, I think alcohol prices are too high in the area and more competition would be a good thing. But protesting their alcohol sales isn’t really about the alcohol, it’s about stopping them from opening.


Tyler June 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I’m a shareholder of CVS and I work in securities research…. I’m well aware of what CVS’s end-game is. Phasing out tobacco was fare more than PR, as will alcohol in 5-10 years.


Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Right, that’s why they insisted they wouldn’t open at all if they didn’t get the alcohol permit.

Are you *ever* right about anything?


Steve June 25, 2014 at 2:25 pm

“Right, that’s why they insisted they wouldn’t open at all if they didn’t get the alcohol permit.”

Try actually reading what Tyler said, “Phasing out tobacco was far more than PR, as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”

as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”
as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”
as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”
as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”
as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”
as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”
as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”
as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”
as will alcohol in 5-10 years.”

Is June 2014 in 5-10 years??? Is this CVS opening in 5-10 years??



Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I’m saying that’s a lie, or at best a misconception. CVS has no “agenda” other than money. Nothing else means anything at all. If Tyler’s claim were true, then the alcohol license would not have been a dealbreaker.


Tyler June 25, 2014 at 4:23 pm

What I said had nothing to do with the current permitting process. I’m of the opinion that the CVS will be a net positive to our community for reasons I expressed above. I only spoke about the phasing out of alcohol in relation to long term. Don’t misconstrue my words please.


Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm

What you said was that CVS has a long term agenda of eliminating alcohol sales. I see no evidence of that, or any reason to believe it, and a number of reasons to disbelieve it. In the article, it says that CVS would not open if they could not get a liquor license. If they were planning to phase out liquor sales nationwide in a few years, why would they make that a dealbreaker condition for this deal? They wouldn’t.

In any case. we’ll find out, because I’ve submitted the form to delay them, and I think I’m probably not the only one. So when their liquor license doesn’t go through without a hitch, we’ll see what they do.


Tyler June 25, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Why delay them? You are just holding up the inevitable and keeping that half block looking pretty decrepit.

You can believe you intuition all you want, you aren’t right about this. You see no evidence of it because you don’t do equity research for a living. CVS corporate isn’t going to let eventual plans weigh in to liquor sales in the short term in one location.

cvs healthcare June 27, 2014 at 4:38 am

CVS tobacco move was about money not PR they legally could not sell tobacco products and participate in certain obamacare programs. They chose to provide some basic health services farmed out under obamacare simply because they will make more money than they do with cigarettes.


oblover June 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Here’s the form –
Here’s the address to protest – CVS, 4949 Santa Monica Ave, 92107
Here’s the email to send it to –
Here’s your protest statement – …”The property resides in a census tract that has more liquor licenses than the state allows.”

We need a grocery store more than anything, and I’d rather have it sit empty for several more months to eventually have a grocery store than allow CVS to take over and create unnecessary competition for Rite Aid.


oblover June 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm
Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Completed and sent.


Tyler June 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

You really think a grocery store will go in after only a few months if CVS is rejected? It took a year and a half to find a even one business to occupy the space. Meanwhile that sidewalk on Santa Monica by the mural looks like skid row on some mornings (until work on the roof and interior by CVS started). Megdahl (spelling?) already showed he doesn’t really care about OB. He won’t quickly try to fill it with a grocery if CVS is rejected.

Again – can we get any update about the old BofA? It seems like we could be shooting ourselves in the foot if a grocery may go in there with the CVS moving in.


Aging Hippie June 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I don’t care if it turns into a skating rink or a thrift store, as long as it’s not some national chain. A grocery would be preferable, as both people’s and olive tree have pretty limited selections, but CVS would just duplicate all the same junk RiteAid already has, while turning the neighborhood into Santee.

I’m sure the owner of Apple Tree wanted very much to reopen in the old BofA building after his landlord jacked up the rent to chase him out, but it also seems very likely to me that if he had been able to get funding, he’d have reopened already. I don’t expect to see Apple Tree market ever again, and I don’t think anyone else who’s realistic does either.


Tony de Garate September 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Aging Hippie, oblover and anyone else who has filed a protest: would you be kind enough to contact me?

ABC says the protests are still under investigation, but they’ve blown past their stated 95-day average for making a decision. I’m wondering what’s taking so long.

I’d like to update this story, which I haven’t done since July ( It puzzles me that many people, including community leaders, think the application has already been approved.


Tony de Garate September 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Oops — I can be reached at or 858-866-9653.


Aging Hippie June 26, 2014 at 6:46 am

I filed an objection, hopefully some of you did too. If you want a grocery store here, or anything better than another chain drug store, this is the course of action to take. It’s not “inevitable” that this huge corporation be allowed to chip away at the unique character of OB just a little more.

Thanks to oblover for the information.


Tyler June 26, 2014 at 8:39 am

No grocery store is going to move in. Isn’t a grocery going in a the old BofA once CVS starts actual construction? Seems like we are only hurting ourselves.


Aging Hippie June 26, 2014 at 8:46 am

When I see a grocery store preparing to open in the old BofA building, then I will believe that one is going in. Otherwise, it’s not happening.

We’re not hurting ourselves, we’re hurting you because you own stock, and protecting our neighborhood.


Tyler June 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm

You are so inflammatory with your remarks it’s almost amusing.

I brought up the grocery store going into the old BofA based on a write up of an OBTC meeting several months back I believe by Frank. The old Apple Tree owner is the owner of the BofA property and he said he would open up a grocery there If a grocery store was not going in to the old Apple Tree. If this is the case, I would hope a grocery is in fact going in.

Frank – any update on this?


Aging Hippie June 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

It doesn’t sound inflammatory to me, perhaps you’re reading something into it that isn’t there.

I eagerly await Frank’s response on this.


SaneVoice June 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Don’t bother with this troll, Tyler. “It” always takes the contrarian position and never offers any input worth a second thought.


Jon June 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Agreed. Can we all please just ignore this commenter from here on out? Wait for it…..


Aging Hippie June 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Editor: personal insults contained in preceding comment. Please moderate.


Goatskull June 26, 2014 at 10:17 am

This is news to me a grocery store is moving into the B of A building. If that’s true than great. Assuming that actually happens, then two large drug chains within spitting distance are not going to survive in OB (my opinion, ultimately we’ll see), so maybe one will cancel the other out.


Aging Hippie June 26, 2014 at 10:38 am

It’s wishful thinking, there’s no grocery store going in there.


Goatskull June 26, 2014 at 10:40 am

Like I said. This is the first I evern heard about it. That why I said “if”.


Aging Hippie June 26, 2014 at 4:42 pm

What incredibly hateful people you all are. Wish I had bought in PB instead.


OB Dude June 26, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I don’t think your “hated”.

I think you are being irritating on purpose. Something you must enjoy.

Maybe you can swap your place with someone in PB that wants to be in OB?


Aging Hippie June 26, 2014 at 8:01 pm

I’m the sort of guy who tells people if their fly is down or they’re about to step in dog crap. Because I care. And in return I get this shit.


Aging Hippie June 27, 2014 at 8:23 am

I got an acknowledgement from the state that my objection was received. Hopefully it wasn’t the only one.

Opportunities to have a positive effect on one’s surroundings are rare, unless you’re a billionaire; one should not pass them up when they are available.


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