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.