Parking was the main worry of citizens who spoke at an at times contentious Glendale's Planning Division public hearing on a proposed Starbucks in Montrose, near the corner of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard.
About 50 people attended--including Starbucks and representatives, local property owners, business owners and neighbors--in what began as an opinionated, nearly two-hour meeting.
As the hearing began, one man began yelling in opposition to Starbucks, interrupting Glendale Case Planner Brad Collin as he read the proposal for attendants.
"We don't need another damn Starbucks, we have Coffee Bean right across the street," an unidentified man yelled as he ran out the planning hearing room door and never returned.
The proposed Starbucks is applying for a conditional use permit to change the commercial retail zone to a fast food restaurant, which requires parking. The proposed tenant is unable to have 14 parking spaces that are required and requested a parking reduction permit from the City of Glendale.
There are five parking spaces located behind the proposed Starbucks, according to the project proposal. Starbucks is also proposing to create an outdoor patio, which will be a 354 square-foot seating area and will reduce the floor area of the 2,122 square-foot location to 1,768 square feet. There would be 23 seats inside and 13 seats outside.
Starbucks would rely on patrons using street parking and the additional city-owned lots to the north on Florencita Drive and south on Market Street and Broadview Drive. These lots are shared by the other businesses in Montrose.
Glendale Police Department and the Traffic Engineering Division did not have any questions regarding the applicant's request for a parking reduction permit, but the Neighborhood Services Division did have questions.
"The Neighborhood Services Division had concerns regarding the impacts to parking and is requesting a condition of approval that the business comply with the Fresh Air Ordinance," according to the proposal.
Laura Stotler, the Planning Hearing Officer for the City of Glendale, opened the hearing with statements from Starbucks officials and later opened the floor to questions from the public--all of which were submitted prior to the meeting.
Starbucks Representatives Speak Publicly, Address Parking and Nearby Coffee Bean
Starbucks representative Mike Abbate started his presentation be asking, "Why Montrose for Starbucks?"
Starbucks has several locations in the Crescenta Valley, including three locations in La Crescenta (one located inside on Foothill Boulevard) and two in La Canada Flintridge.
"The answer is simple," Abbate said. "We really want to provide a nice, third place experience for our customers."
About 16 to 20 people could be employed at the proposed store, he said.
"These are good jobs," Abbate said.
He gave several examples of locations with small communities that have incorporated Starbucks, including Larchmont Village.
"Peak hour happens around 8 a.m., when only a few, if any, [businesses in Montrose] are open during that time," he said.
Abbate mentioned that nearby and owners are in support of the proposed coffee house. In addition, both owners spoke publicly in support of Starbucks heading to Montrose.
He also addressed Coffee Bean across the street.
"We're not coming to Montrose to put anybody out of business," Abbate said.
Based on letters that Planning Hearing Officer Stotler received regarding the parking reduction permit request, Stotler said that she was concerned that Starbucks representatives were not addressing how the parking reduction permit would impact surrounding businesses, she said.
Starbucks would reduce the outdoor size to allow for an outdoor space patio, said Anthony Lee, Senior Design Manager for Starbucks. The design would be based on Starbuck's original Pike's Place cafe in Seattle and would keep the restored concrete floor.
Stotler advised that the designer review the new North Glendale Community Plan--which incorporates pedestrian and outdoor seating areas - before heading to Glendale's Design Review Board.
Locals Respond to the Proposed Starbucks and Possible Parking Problem
A security guard or parking monitor could be watching the parking for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's lot, said property owner Robert Yoohanna, who owns the property across from the proposed coffee chain, which houses Coffee Bean and Quizno's and several other stores.
This parking lot could be impacted by Starbucks patrons who might park across the street in the lot that is reserved for stores that pay rent for their location's access to parking, Yoohanna said.
"I have an issue with the parking," Yoohanna said. "I have between 80 and 85 parking spaces. As of now I have other people coming in and parking in the parking lot. Therefore i have to hire a parking lot attendent to oversee other people."
Yoohanna suggested that the city designate public parking for the area.
"Already I have other customers parking in my parking lot," Yoohanna said. "At the peak hour they're almost full now."
Bruce Meyer, owner of the proposed Starbucks building at 2284 Honolulu Avenue, spoke at the meeting.
"We bought the building there because we love the quaintness of it. I just want to mention that I grew up on Larchmont so I'm very sensitive to the community," Meyer said.
Meyer said Starbucks and Coffeee Bean could co-exist in the same location.
"There are Coffee Bean disciples and Starbucks disciples," Meyer said.
Michael Mooslin, President of Color Me Mine, Inc., also addressed the crowd, citing that Montrose's problem isn't parking but that the area needs more business following the creation of the Americana in Glendale.
"We're all locally owned," Mooslin said. "We have franchises in a number of the communities, all owned by local owners who live in the neighborhood. It's not the parking that's the problem, it's the Americanas of the world that drag people away from the small shopping centers."
Mooslin supports a Starbucks in Montrose.
"We need to draw more business into Montrose in order to keep activity there," Mooslin said. "We've seen our sales drop in Montrose when the Americana went up."
Ted Frankel, owner of Tom's Toys, also supports a Starbucks in Montrose, which is the only location where he owns a Tom's Toys that doesn't have a Starbucks, he said.
"We don't have a shortage of parking, what we have is a shortage of shoppers," Frankel said.
New business is welcome to Montrose, however parking is something to consider, said Melinda Clarke, Executive Director of the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce. Clarke suggested that signs be added to park in the rear, or signify that there is parking in the area north and south of the proposed Starbucks.
Kendra Casper, a neighbor who lives in the 3500 block of Buena Vista, supports a Starbucks in Montrose.
"I've lived in Montrose for 15 years and I've never once seen a parking problem there," Casper said. "I think that having a business like Starbucks there invites more people to come, engage in the pedestrian experience that is Montrose."
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Representatives Share Their Opinions
Terry Mansky, Chief Administrative Officer & Chief Legal Officer spoke to the hearing officer and locals about the company's stance on Starbucks coming to Montrose.
"On behalf of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, we know that we have a bias," Mansky said. "We operate one coffee house in the three areas of La Crescenta, Montrose and La Canada. Starbucks has four in that area."
Coffee Bean came to Montrose nine years ago, Mansky said.
"It's Main Street against Wall Street in so many ways," Mansky said.
Colin Lublin, Manager of Montrose's Coffee Bean, disagreed with Starbucks' representative Abbate that Starbucks' hours would peak only around 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
"I've operated this location for over two years and I can garuntee you that our business flow is something that's consistent from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.," Lublin said.
"This is a homegrown community, this is tight-knit," Lublin said.
Lublin also mentioned that Honolulu Avenue is the direct route for emergency vehicles and that Starbucks traffic could impact the emergency vehicles en route to Verdugo Hills Hospital.
Although Lublin doesn't doubt that Starbucks would build a beautiful store, he does think there are challenges to the community.
"My concern is, what will it lend to this community?" Lublin said.
The Glendale Planning Commission will make a decision in the upcoming days on whether to approve Starbucks' application for fast food and parking reduction permits.