By Erica Madison
On December 15, 2009 the Alameda Planning Board ignored eye witness testimony and granted four big chain stores use permits.
After a month of waiting, Safeway, Panera Bread, Walgreens, and Big 5 Sporting Goods were granted a use permit extension on their delivery hours.
All four of the stores requested use permits, allowing them to deliver goods to the store from 6:00am to 7:00am.
Planning Services Manager Andrew Thomas gave a report to the Planning Board outlining the rules for using the permit.
Delivery trucks may arrive at anytime, however once they’re in the store’s parking lot they must turn their engines off. Any delivery car seen parking on the street or found idling, will result in a use permit hearing to find out if and why the company is breaking the rules.
A representative from Safeway told the Planning Board, that the requested extension of delivery hours was to expedite the delivery process.
“A lot of trucks come from Tracy and get there too early, because they’re trying to avoid traffic“, said a Safeway representative.
Deliveries may arrive early, but the use permit allows for deliveries only from 6:00am to 7:00am. Loading and unloading can only happen during granted hours. Stores caught unloading before 6:00am will face a permit use hearing.
In order for a store to be considered a violator of the permit, the Planning Board must receive at least two complaints.
Although these are the rules Planning Services Manager Andrew Thomas presented, the Planning Board ignored eye witness testimony saying that all four stores were already delivering at an unauthorized time.
Two Alameda residents appeared before the Planning Board and stated that they saw at one time or another all four stores violating the use permit by delivering at an unauthorized time.
“Safeway has not been in compliance with our current laws. They are extreme violators of the current permit laws. They shouldn’t be rewarded for disobeying”, said Claire Ridgley.
Ridgley who lives in the neighborhood said she had seen Walgreens unloading supplies at 6:00am on a Saturday morning. At another time she has also seen Safeway unloading supplies at 6:30am.
Holly Sellers also noticed that the stores were violating the use permit laws.
“All of the applicants are ignoring the use codes. The Planning Board shouldn’t grant any of these stores use permits.”
If this is true, both stores were seen unloading products at a time they didn’t have a use permit granting them permission to do so.
Ridgley also complained that the noise from the delivery trucks were disruptive to the neighborhood.
Alameda resident Kurt Libby, seconded Ridgley’s protest. “The trucks roar down the street. They are only 30-50 feet from homes, and they wake up over 3,000 people coming through every night”.
Manager of the Alameda Towne Centre, Michael Corbitt, spoke on behalf of the stores: “Toughest time in retail I have ever seen.” and “I never had a complaint. It’s really hard to find good tenants, and we’re really fortunate to have the tenants we do have”.
However Planning Board members Cunningham and Ashcraft, dismissed the issues.
“If it really was an enormous uproar we would have heard from more than three people”, said Planning Board member Cunningham.
President Ashcraft agreed with Cunningham
“I think the requests are very reasonable. Not everyone is as sensitive to noise as other people.”
All of the stores were unanimously approved; however no one suggested a permit use hearing to look into the eyewitness accounts.