By Erica Madison-Youman
On Monday, Oct. 12, 2009, Park street Alameda business owners, protested the inclusion of a convenience/novelty store at a Planning Board meeting.
“We don’t want to have the same problem Oakland has”, said Alameda Business owner Paul Rye.
Mr. Rye was pointing out the fact Abdulmalik Harbi, the applicant, will dedicate 20 percent of his store to the sale of tobacco supplies.
Many business owners are concerned Harbi’s new store will sell illegal products such as bongs.
Abdulmalik Harbi submitted an application to operate a convenience store that specializes in the sale of novelties. The application was submitted to the Planning Board Design Review staff, on July 27, 2009. After making some revisions, Harbi returned to the Planning board on Monday to receive approval for a use permit. The permit allows him to operate the convenience store on the corner of Park Street and Pacific Avenue.
The Design Review staff presented a history of the lot. Originally the building was a retail store, which sold audio equipment. Since then, the owner of the lot has not been able to lease the store for four years.
Harbi’s lawyer came to the meeting to let the Planning Board know, the Park Street Business Association had approved of having an additional convenience store.
Unfortunately, Harbi’s lawyer is the only person who appeared to support the application. Harbi’s fellow Park Street business owners were against the application.
“Just because the building has been vacant for so many years, doesn’t mean you can just put anything there. What does this store have that nine other stores within walking distance don’t have?” said an Alameda business owner. “As a business owner I need to know what my future is.”
Most of the business owners were concerned that Harbi’s store will promote the use of tobacco to children. On top of this, Alameda citizens were concerned that another convenience store may increase Alameda’s crime rate.
“You’re three blocks from Alameda High school. These kids walk past there every day. You don’t want to turn this into Oakland,” said an Alameda citizen.