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Westwood Council Votes Down Alcohol Sales At Target

Westwood Neighborhood Council debated the store's request for a permit to sell alcohol at its CityTarget store for off-site consumption.

Alcohol sales at the proposed on Weyburn Avenue dominated the discussion at Wednesday night’s Westwood Neighborhood Council meeting, held at the Westwood Presbyterian Church. The motion, which serves as a recommendation to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning andthe California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, ultimately was defeated 10-2, with three members abstaining.

Council President Jerry Brown and other members heard arguments for and against a conditional permit for the sale of a full line of alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption at a smaller version of the store, CityTarget, . 

Council members and meeting attendees alike all agreed on one thing: the corporation’s entry into Westwood Village would be a positive development.

“I think most of us are anxious for them to open up as soon as possible,” said Constance Boukidis, co-chair of the council’s land use and planning committee. However, she said she was ambivalent about the sale of alcohol, also acknowledging that residents had strong feelings on both sides.

Attendees included Westwood residents, a representative from Councilmember Paul Koretz’s office, the president of Topa Management and a Target district team leader and an attorney for the corporation.

“Alcohol sales will be a very small portion of what Target is proposing at this store, both in terms of floor space devoted to alcohol sales and sales revenue relative to other products,” said Target attorney Beth Aboulafia, adding that alcohol typically makes up less than 1 percent of Target’s overall sales. “It’s a small piece of what Target does, but it’s an important piece because it provides consumers and Target’s guests with the ability to purchase alcoholic beverages while they’re shopping at Target for other things.”

According to Aboulafia, Target sells alcohol at 90 percent to 95 percent of its stores in California.

But with the newly created CityTarget format being smaller than traditional Target stores, council members and attendees wondered why the limited space would include alcohol when they asserted that Westwood residents need other items, such as clothing and linens, more than alcohol – something they could buy at the nearby Ralphs or Trader Joe’s.

“We desperately need children’s toys, clothing, men’s clothes, women’s clothes, health, beauty,” said Carol Spencer, a Westwood resident. “We don’t necessarily need liquor.”

Boukidis added that because Target has recently contracted with Apple to open mini Apple stores in Target locations, then perhaps that would be more appropriate in a university community.

Other residents found no harm in the proposed sale.

“Why is Westwood so restrictive on its commercial entities?” asked Westwood resident Roxanne Stern. “If [the alcohol] doesn’t sell, they’ll put in something else.”

Christopher Koontz, planning deputy in the Office of Councilmember Paul Koretz, and president of Topa Management Tony Ranger also expressed support for the alcohol sales at the CityTarget.

“They have no alcohol infractions in the State of California,” said Koontz. “They have a clear record. They have good security protocols. There’s no harm, in our view, posed in this application.”

Underlying the arguments, however, was the unanswered question:  “Irrespective of what happens today, and whether this license is rendered or not, Target’s going to open, right?” asked council member Brent Gaisford.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” said Aboulafia, also noting that she did not know if a fully executed lease had been signed.

Attendees, including Westwood Community Council chair Steve Sann, attested to seeing the lease.

Barry January 16, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Not sure what proximity has to do with what a store can sell. You can purchase Small appliances and vacuum cleaners at Best Buy as well as CD's, DVD's, Video Games, Televisions, Computers and Software, all of which will be sold at Target I'm guessing. Cameras are right around the corner at Locally owned Bel Air Camera. Also a California company, Ross, a brisk 10 min walk has great deals on shoes and clothing for the whole family at comparable pricing and some would say better quality merchandise that what Target sells. Ross also has housewares, watches/jewelry, toys and games. Target adds nothing new to Westwood. It's a corporate chain that will take away business from locally owned stores like Trader Joe's, Ross, Bel Air Camera and others. That said, what you get is convenience and banning alcohol sales makes it less convenient.
Glenn M January 17, 2012 at 07:33 AM
Trader Joe's nor Ross are locally owned stores. They are chains just like Target. Target should sell alcohol. Competion is always good. Westwood councils have a pattern of dictating what stores, restaurants, bars and clubs (of which there are none) can do or sell in Westwood Village and that is one of the major reasons it is in such sad shape. If anything, the council should be disbanded.
Barry January 17, 2012 at 12:41 PM
@Glenn, By "Local" I of course mean California based. Both Ross and Trader Joe's were started in CA, both still have their corporate offices in CA and I am assuming, pay a fair amount in taxes to the state of California, I could be wrong as I am in no way an expert on taxes. I agree that no entity should be able to decide what product or services a retailer should be able to offer as long as that product or service is lawful.
Chris Wright January 19, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Well said. I've thought many times over the years how sad it is that Westwood Village isn't more exciting or prosperous. It would be so fantastic to have more nightlife, a GOOD bar and/or nightclub, somewhere to dance and real shopping. Who cares if Target sells alcohol? And if the store is going to be so much smaller than other Target stores, is the council going to dictate to them which items they should carry and do they speak for all of Westwood Village? Seems like a lot of power to me.
Carol Spencer January 19, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Chris, It is indeed sad that Westwood Village isn't more exciting or prosperous - BUT back in the 1980's it was extremely popular and drew crowds & one night someone was shot! This drove people away, merchants went out of business, etc. The following change of the Westwood Community Plan put restrictions on the number of off site liquor licenses in one location. Soon the LA WW Community Plan is coming up for review. That is the time for changes to be discussed and voted upon.


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