Peninsula Planners Vote on Controversial Move by Sunshine Liquor

by on February 21, 2017 · 1 comment

in Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

Rob Murray, owner of Karen’s Consignments

By Geoff Page

A large crowd attending a planning board meeting usually means something controversial is on the agenda; attendance at these meetings is normally sparse.  This proved to be true at the February 16, 2017, Peninsula Community Planning Board’s regular monthly meeting at the Point Loma Library.

Sunshine Liquor Move Controversial

The issue of a neighborhood liquor store moving from one side of Nimitz Boulevard to the other side apparently was much more controversial than the simple project description would suggest.  Sunshine Liquor gained the PCPB’s approval for a Conditional Use Permit, one step in the process that will bring Sunshine Liquor to the west side of Nimitz.

The liquor store lost its lease at its former location, the small shopping center on the east side of Nimitz at the corner of Las Lomas St. and Voltaire.  The reason for losing the lease was not provided but a mixed use project was permitted for the location several years ago, before the recession put a lot of development on hold.  The new project would demolish Sunshine’s old location.  The solution was to move to the west side of Nimitz into a space in the commercial center at Wabaska and Voltaire.

There was a good deal of opposition to this move as well as a lot of support for it.  The crowd mainly fell into those two groups.

The supporters were the owner and some family members and a number of others who had experience with the business and gave glowing accounts of Sunshine Liquor’s owners.  There was a unanimous opinion among the supporters that Sunshine’s owners had cleaned up the little center by dealing with the unsavory transient element.  One community member spoke up in favor recounting that he and his wife volunteered monthly to help the homeless.  The young man said that he had heard among this population that Sunshine had a reputation as an unfriendly place for them, a place to avoid.

One woman who still occupied a space in the old location said that Sunshine’s people made her feel safe and that she had not felt that way since they had closed the store. Another supporter said that Sunshine’s people were the first ones to react and run out to help when there was an accident on Voltaire bringing bottles of water and reassuring the victims until help arrived.  There were several others who spoke highly of the owners.

The opposition mostly voiced the opinion that a liquor store was an unsavory business.  The biggest objections came from the owner and some patrons of the Paper Moon Music Studio. They said that the music studio had a large clientele of children and that a liquor store was a bad idea with all the young people coming and going.

The owner of Karen’s Consignments was also opposed for a number of reasons.  He was very critical of the property’s landlord saying the owner didn’t care what went into the space.  He said he was told this would be a wine and cheese store and not a liquor store but wasn’t clear where he got that information.  He also expressed the opinion that this was not a good business next to one that catered to children.  He said parking was inadequate but Sunshine’s consultant explained that the lot was “over parked.”  This meant that there are nine more parking spaces in the center than required by the city for all the businesses there.

Local developer, Mike Stevens, who has the development currently taking place on the north side of Voltaire, had a number of complaints mostly about the property owner, not Sunshine.  Stevens said there was sign clutter that was actually a code violation referring to signs taped to the insides of windows.  He said the owner accommodated transients.

It was pointed out that Sunshine’s owners had cleaned up its former location and that having them in the new location could result in an improvement of that problem.

Sunshine’s store will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. weekdays and until 11:00 p.m. on weekends while the other businesses close at 6:00 p.m. Sunshine’s new store will have outdoor lighting and security cameras as well.  Stevens also complained that the trash receptacle was unscreened.  He complained that he had not heard about the meeting until just before it occurred and wanted the vote postponed.

But, Stevens’s biggest complaint was that this was not what he believed was the “highest and best use” of the property according to his standards.  His development will be adding 28 condominiums and seven businesses to Voltaire Street, which one could argue was above and beyond the highest and best use of this cramped area.  Mr. Stevens appeared to believe the public should consider his vision of what should happen in this area as the one everyone should follow.

Sunshine made its case and it included a number of positive points.  They plan to change the name to make it more palatable by removing the word liquor and possibly using the word spirits instead.  They have agreed to a number of suggestions by the PCPB’s Project Review subcommittee such as the following:

  • the hours of operations,
  • creating a loading zone on San Clemente,
  • replacing landscaping,
  • repairing the existing sidewalk
  • and improving the driveway.

It was pointed out that some of these improvements were the landlord’s responsibility but Sunshine’s owners said they were willing to spend the money to make the improvements. Sunshine also agreed to follow some police restrictions such as not selling little bottles of liquor or malt liquors, the kinds of alcohol popular with a certain population they did not want to attract.  The new store will have an olive bar, a place where people could pick up fresh snacks but would not be selling grocery goods.

A question was asked by a board member regarding the length of the lease.  Sunshine explained it was a two-year lease with a three-year extension option followed by three five-year options meaning they could be there for 20 years.  They occupied the former location for 15 years.

After much discussion, the PCPB voted in favor of the permit application with only one vote against.  Conrad Wear, the representative for Councilmember Zapf’s office said Tim Daly was heading this project for the city and that anyone could email him with concerns or suggestions at  The permit application will be heard by a hearing officer and the decision can be appealed to the Planning Commission, the body that has the final word.

Other News

Wear mentioned a few other items.  Wabaska Drive is being resurfaced and the restriping will result in angled parking instead of the former parallel parking configuration.

One of the action items on the agenda was a request for a letter to the city to use the National Association of City Transportation Officials, or NACTO, guidelines for the newly resurfaced streets, including Wabaska.  The specific issue was guidelines for bicycles such as the work that was done on Voltaire west of Catalina and on Nimitz Blvd. where it meets Evergreen Street.

Wear explained that the traffic signal improvements put into effect on Rosecrans had improved the traffic flow by 25 per cent.  He said the estimate to put the system in city wide was $184 million; the Rosecrans piece alone cost $600 thousand.

Wear was asked when the 40-year old Peninsula Community Plan would be updated and he explained that the city prioritized which community plans would be done first based on development pressure and the number of amendments current plans had.  He estimated it might still be several years before the Peninsula Plan got attention.

Point Loma High Lights

The subject of lights at Point Loma High School came up.  Board member David Dick said the board had written a letter to the city about the lights issue and received no response nor was there a response to a request for a meeting.  Wear explained that the city decided to stay out of the issue as the property belonged to the San Diego Unified School District and the city felt it was not a city issue.  Apparently, no one at the city had the courtesy of providing at least this response to the PCPB and instead ignored the letter and the meeting request.

Ad Hoc Subcommittee to Study Development Process

The board spent some time discussing and creating an ad hoc subcommittee to study development procedures and to meet with the Development Services Department.  The committee will include people from the PCPB as well as the Ocean Beach Planning Board and possibly the Midway board.  Because it is an ad hoc committee, the board felt it was not subject to the notice provisions of Brown Act that governs public meetings.  The PCPB’s by-laws, however, do require posting of meeting information on its website and the public is allowed to, and encouraged to, attend.

Sub-Committee Reports

The subcommittee reports were last.  The Traffic and Transportation subcommittee chair explained that the city will be trying to improve the intersection of Chatsworth and Catalina by creating two left turns onto Catalina.  If this is not effective, the next effort would be a traffic circle configuration.

The Liberty Station subcommittee liaison said that the hotel development across the channel from the park was stalled due to prevailing wage issues.  She also said the aquatic center was still not underway and explained that Building 191, formerly slated for demolition, would be instead used as a cycling facility.

Yearly Election to Peninsula Board

The PCPB’s yearly election for five open seats will be held on March 16, the day of the regular March meeting. Prior to that will be a candidate forum on March 2nd. All of this will occur at the Point Loma Library. Board members encouraged people to run for a seat. To find out about eligibility requirements and obtain an application to run, go here; . Any applications already filed can also be viewed at this same address.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Will February 22, 2017 at 6:13 am

The folks who run Sunshine are good people. Parking is a small issue. There were never more than three cars parked in front of their old store at a time, and they move on quickly. Sunshine sells a lot of expensive craft beer, their clientele is typical PL/OB folks, the same people who shop at Karen’s Consignment, their new neighbor.

And I have to laugh at the NIMBYs who are concerned about the children being around or going into a liquor store. Liquor stores are also convenience stores that sell snacks. As a kid I went into the local liquor store almost daily on my walk home from elementary school. They sold gum, chips, and sodas. I grew up ok.


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