Santa Monica Welcomes Vagrants to Northeast Neighborhood, Approves 7-Eleven in former Bank of America building on Wilshire and Berkeley
Neighbors forcefully opposed the project, which they said would generate noise, traffic, and crime
November 13, 2020
The Santa Monica Planning Commission approved a permit for 7-Eleven convenience store to move into the former Bank of America building on Wilshire at Berkeley. The applicant requested the store be allowed to operate 24 hours a day but did not request an alcoholic beverage license.
Neighbors forcefully opposed the project, which they said would generate noise, traffic, and crime. Concerns were circulated on social media claiming FBI statistics show 24-hour convenience stores are magnets for crime. A 60-spot parking lot behind the building was also felt to be a potential source of loitering by vagrants. Whatever the data, most people familiar with 7-Eleven convenience stores know the type of person who like to frequent - and sit outside - such places. The 7-Eleven at Wilshire and 6th is a neighborhood eyesore and attracts unsavory individuals, creating an unsafe environment.
Tricia Crane, chair of Santa Monica Northeast Neighbors, wrote that 200 emails were sent to the Planning Commission opposing the project and many residents "spoke forcefully during Public Comment about their concerns over safety and noise and traffic the 7-Eleven would generate."
At the very least, neighbors requested the hours of the convenience market be reduced to match those of nearby businesses, such as Bristol Farms, which is open from 6 am to 11 pm.
However, the Planning Commission felt traffic would not be greatly impacted by the market, and noise could be reduced by a proposed 8 foot wall. They declined to reduce the 7-Eleven's business hours as requested, but did reduce them to 5 am to 12 am.
The only commissioner to vote against the permit for the 7-Eleven was city council candidate Mario Fonda-Bonardi. He'd argued for the reduced hours as proposed by residents and, after that idea was rejected, voted to oppose the project altogether.
Appeals of the Commission's decision may be made to the City Council for a limited time period.
The seven Planning Commissioners serve 4-year terms after appointment by the City Council. They are not elected. Their stated mission is to "envision Santa Monica as a city of well-being, sustainability, and equity."