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City Council Says No To Beer and Wine at Starbucks

The vote was 3-2 to keep Starbucks alcohol-free, but the state has the final say. Community opposition is rising as well.

' attempt  hit a snag at Tuesday's City Council meeting, when members voted 3-2 to oppose the coffee giant's liquor license application. 

The City Council cannot stop Starbucks; officials noted there isn't a legal reason to fight the application before the state Alcohol Beverage Control agency.

But the community is operating on another front, launching a campaign to push the chain to change its mind about adding beer and wine to the menu in Coronado.

Mayor Casey Tanaka objected strongly to his colleagues' decision, pointing out that the nearby had a beer and wine license. “I’ve yet to see kids sitting next to a wino,” he said. 

Because alcohol sales are working at Cafe 1134, he didn’t see why it wouldn’t work at Starbucks.

“It won’t be the end of the world and the sky won’t fall,” he said. “Cafe 1134 does it well and from what I’ve seen Starbucks doesn’t run a slipshod operation.”

Councilwoman Carrie Downey voted with Tanaka, but not for the same reasons. She viewed it from a legal perspective, arguing that Starbucks is located in a zone where alcohol can be served.

"It's a matter of fairness," she said.

She then spoke as a mother of five teenagers who is disturbed by the idea. “It’s a dumb move,” she said. “I plan to send an e-mail to the corporate headquarters and tell them, shame on you and you should fire the person who picked the one city that would oppose you.”

Others on the council sided with Coronado SAFE, which vehemently opposes the idea and is trying to dissuade Starbucks from following through with its plans.  

In a letter to Howard Schultz, Starbucks’s chief executive, Andrea Webster, SAFE’s executive director, argued that Starbucks is one of the few places in town people can go to where alcohol is not served, and because of that it has become a magnet for kids. 

“Our teens take great joy in frequenting your business as it is and our parents feel at ease allowing their children to gather there anytime day or night,” she wrote. “We love our Starbucks as it is.” 

The rest of the council agreed. “I don’t think liquor belongs in Starbucks,” Councilman Al Ovrom said.

Councilman Mike Woiwode pointed out that it isn’t just parents and kids who see Starbucks as a haven – recovery groups use the spot to meet. “Alcoholics feel safe there,” he said.

Tanaka added that to limit alcohol sales in the area, it would have to be re-zoned, which would take several months. Meanwhile the state could approve Starbucks' application.

Downey suggested a resolution, instead of a formal objection, but the idea never took flight. 

Starbucks that it would expand an experiment to sell beer and wine, reaching into markets in Southern California, Chicago and Atlanta. Other liquor license applications are pending, . The plans call for new menu options as well.

Wendy Birnbaum April 04, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Alcohol is served at many different locations up and down Orange. It is up to the individual whether to purchase wine or coffee. Making the best choice is up to the individual. The 'kids' are growing up with temptations surrounding them. If they choose to drink alcohol, they will find it someplace!
Buffy Hergenrader April 04, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I don't undersstand why the state has the final say about what happens in Coronado.
Jennifer Vigil April 04, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Hi Buffy. The state regulates liquor licenses for all jurisdictions. The city handles local business permits.
Buffy Hergenrader April 04, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Well, you live and learn.....Thanks, Jennifer!
Lorenzo April 04, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Congratulations to the Council and Coronado SAFE for opposing more alcohol licenses in Coronado. Even in a commercially-zoned area, increased numbers and concentration are associated with increased problems. The Council can use their land use authority to determine the types and manner of alcohol-serving businesses in Coronado. Local regulation and enforcement are the key to protecting Coronado.
Russell Bloom April 05, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I'm a former investigator with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. I own a liquor license consulting firm in California (www.CALiquorLicense.com). If Starbucks were Proactive before hand, they could have dealt with most of the issues before filing the planing application. You meet with the residences and listen to their concerns and try to address them as best you can. I don't feel ABC will reject the ABC application based on children now being around Starbucks with alcohol being served and as much compassion as I have for AA and NA members, I don't think ABC will take that into consideration either because everyone has choices and they don't have to go to Starbucks in Coronado for their meetings.
Steve Johnson May 14, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I do not the Coronado residents' reasons for opposing Starbucks' reasons to obtain a beer and liquor license. Really? Starbucks is a magnet for kids by the nature of the fact that it doesn't server wine or beer? How does this line of thought account for the fact that Coronado kids also frequent Village pizzeria, which serves beer, and the many other restaurants which serve alcohol. I love Coronado, but it's puritan, temperance-era shit like this that drives me crazy about some of the city's "most holy" residents.

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