The West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission on Wednesday night signed off on alcohol sales at Target, granting the Westwood Village store's appeal for a conditional use permit.
Commissioners in late July voted to continue the discussion on Target's appeal of a zoning administrator's refusal to grant a conditional use permit for the sale of alcohol.
Most of the commissioners on Wednesday agreed the sale of alcohol at CityTarget would be a convenience for the public, and would not necessarily lead to an over-saturation of alcohol sellers in the area. They also noted its difference from area restaurants and convenience stores as a reason to allow alcohol sales.
"Everyone I’ve spoken to has said, 'Why not?'" Commissioner Joyce Foster said. "I do see it as a public convenience to be able to pick up a bottle of wine."
Commission Vice President Thomas Donovan disagreed.
"The argument that it's convenient for the customers there is not persuasive to me," he said. "You could make that argument pretty much on anything. ... Where’s the tipping point? How many is going to be too much?"
Target's request for a permit to sell alcohol for off-site consumption was denied in April on the grounds that alcohol sales at Target would not serve public convenience and might be detrimental to the community.
Selling alcohol in Los Angeles requires a conditional use permit from the city as well as a liquor license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Alcohol at restaurants and bars is classified as "on-sale," while alcohol in retail stores such as Ralph's is "off-sale." Five off-sale liquor licenses are currently valid in Westwood, as established by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's licensing criteria for the Westwood area. A sixth would result in "over-concentration," the term applied when the ratio of liquor licenses to population in the neighborhood exceeds the ratio in the county as a whole. In order to receive a conditional use permit to sell alcohol, and subsequently to obtain a liquor license from the state, Target would need to prove to the city that its alcohol sales would satisfy "public convenience or necessity."
The Los Angeles City Council will next determine whether these qualifications are met by Target.
Commissioner Glenda Martinez argued for the sale of alcohol at Target, saying the store is unique because it's visited by people from outside the community.
"To me, that makes a difference in terms of an impact that it will have in the community," she said.
Westwood Business Improvement District (BID) Board of Directors Chair Jessica Dabney said allowing alcohol sales at Target will only help the Westwood Village business community and bring the area "back to its former glory."
"I'm very concerned about the future of Westwood Village and vacancies that exist in Westwood Village," she said. "There's no reason why (Target) shouldn’t be able to do this in Westwood Village."
Opponents disagreed that alcohol sales at Target would fulfill a community necessity.
"I think Target should focus more on the needs of Westwood," said Angus Beverly, a Westwood Neighborhood Council board member.
Connie Boukidis, also a Westwood Neighborhood Council board member, said Target's push to sell alcohol at the store was "about the money and not convenience for their shoppers."
Longtime Westwood resident Roxane Stern spoke out against opponents of the appeal.
"Why should (Target) be denied just because some folks don’t want them to sell (alcohol)?" she said. "If you don’t like it, don’t buy it there."
—Lauren C. Ruth and Sara Fay contributed to this report.
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