A 7-Eleven set to open in a few weeks in a distinctly residential San Mateo neighborhood received a chilly reception from the city's Planning Commission last night, which voted unanimously to recommend termination of a legal non-conforming use of the property and revert it back to residential.
The commission said in unison that a 7-Eleven where the former Stangelini's Italian Deli & Hilltop Market once stood at 501 N. San Mateo Drive will have a negative effect on property values in the San Mateo Heights neighborhood and be a detriment to the public health, safety and general welfare of the neighborhood.
The City Council will next take up the issue at its Nov. 15 meeting. The council has final say on whether to terminate the legal non-conforming use for a market and revert the property back to residential as it is currently zoned for.
Stangelini's operated on the site for more than 70 years but when it closed about two years and the site stood vacant for so long the city made a determination that the zoning for the property be reverted back to residential.
The property owners then sought a zoning code amendment to keep the legal non-conforming use back in February and a neighborhood meeting was held so neighbors could hear what the proposed uses for the property might be.
A short time after, however, the city's legal counsel determined that the owners of the property had no intent to abandon the property as a market, even though the use had discontinued, and the public outreach process ended abruptly and building permits from the city were issued shortly after.
Signs went up on the building saying a 7-Eleven would open soon and about 100 residents from the area showed up to the Planning Commission meeting last night, holding signs that read "Do the right thing," to complain about the process and the intensification of use from the former market to a 7-Eleven.
All four commissioners in attendance, Chris Massey, Rick Bonilla, Kelly Moran and Josh Hugg, were against a 7-Eleven popping up in the residential area saying it would be too burdensome. Commissioner Dianne Whitaker was not in attendance.
Moran even made a motion to recommend to the council to oppose the transfer of the liquor license that was held by Stangelini's.
The former deli was open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. but 7-Eleven proposes to be open from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, taking deliveries at varying hours.
Deputy Mayor David Lim requested the public hearing to consider terminating the legal non-conforming use after hearing from many in the area about how disruptive a 7-Eleven will be in the area.
If the City Council does vote to terminate the use it must still allow a market in the space for at least five years but city staff said it would take at least 14 years for the new owners to recoup their investment.
"No matter what decision is made here there will be litigation," Moran said.
Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.