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Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022
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7-Eleven Ignites Local Backlash

Call it a “No Slurpee Zone.” During a planning commission hearing last month, the city of Thousand Oaks, in a 4-0 vote, defeated a developer’s proposed 7-Eleven Inc. convenience store on a long-unoccupied parcel of land across the street from a high school. The controversial use of a 20,000-square-foot vacant lot came to a head at the April 1 hearing, even after Megdal & Associates President Taylor Megdal made an impassioned push for his 24-hour convenience store and gas station at 2198 N. Moorpark Road, catty-corner from Thousand Oaks High School. Opponents viewed the 7-Eleven as an invitation to crime, traffic and unhealthy food choices. At the hearing, more than 20 concerned citizens argued against the proposed 7-Eleven, citing everything from protecting the high-schoolers from cigarettes, junk food and riff-raff and the escalation of area traffic to the intrusion on the rural charms of the surrounding neighborhood, where residents ride horses and walk their goats. Another community concern had to do with contamination at the site, which for 35 years had hosted a gas station before its 2005 demolishment, even though the property owner had, in 2014, received certification required by Ventura County deeming the parcel developable. Last fall, more than 500 people had signed an online petition to block the project. In the face of the outcry, Megdal had agreed to a deed restriction prohibiting the sale of alcohol and vaping products and promised a three-pump gas station where 30 percent of the convenient-store space would feature healthy options such as fruit and hummus. However, Megdal did not want to completely prohibit the sale of tobacco products, apparently to the commissioners’ dissatisfaction. With Planning Commissioner Kevin Kohan absent, a unanimous vote was cast by the commissioners “without prejudice,” meaning the applicant can reapply with the same project at a later date. Megdal also has the right to appeal the commission’s decision to the City Council. As long ago as last fall, Thousand Oaks City Planner Matt Chang told the Business Journal that the city shared the community’s sentiment about the 7-Eleven. “The staff is leaning toward not supporting the project,” Chang said, largely because of its round-the-clock hours of operation. Such hours, he said, would not only have an “adverse impact” on the nearby high school, but would be incompatible with the hours of operation designated to a commercial plaza to the north and a medical plaza to the south. “We also have a concern about a gas station,” Chang said, explaining that the previous fuel stop on the site was approved in 1968 before more stringent regulations and criteria arrived in 1972. “(The 7-Eleven’s gas station) would not fit the criteria.” According to Chang, the parcel has been a challenge to develop because of the single-family homes surrounding the lot on three sides.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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