Peet’s gets green light
THE CITY COUNCIL overruled the Planning Commission and will let Peet’s Coffee occupy this site on Broadway.
A parade of Peet’s proponents pleaded for their favorite coffee store Monday night while urging the Sonoma City Council to overturn the Planning Commission and approve a use permit that would allow the company to set up shop at 591 Broadway. Their passion was well-received.
Notwithstanding a recently adopted formula store ordinance that inspired a 4-to-3 vote of planning commissioners against granting the permit, all five City Council members enthusiastically embraced a Peet’s approval.
Councilmember Steve Barbose, who spearheaded the effort to develop the formula store ordinance, told the council and the packed meeting room, “It’s a mistake to assume that I think all formula stores are bad. What the ordinance does is guarantee a public discussion like this one.”
Barbose praised Peet’s as “a great place for young people to gather,” and explained, “I would feel totally different about this if it were a Taco Bell or Long John Silver’s …”
Mayor Joanne Sanders, a persistent opponent of the formula store ordinance, argued that, “If Peet’s had decided they didn’t want to roll the dice” on appealing the Planning Commission denial, “and moved on to the next town, look at what we would have lost.”
What might have been lost turns out to be some 25 jobs, five of them fulltime, with fulltime benefits for everyone working 21 hours-a-week or more. Peet’s will also provide both an early morning and a late night place to buy coffee and spend time in an inviting environment with leather chairs and free WiFi. Proposed hours run from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Henry Mayo, realtor, winery owner and owner of the building in question, told the council that Peet’s will bring “a diversity of employees” as well as “taste and class” and “a place for kids to hang out.”
A man named Joe told the council he routinely drives all the way to Petaluma to get Peet’s coffee, “and I go shopping while I’m there. Please,” he said, “give us our Peet’s.”
Clara Bock said she and her husband lived in Berkeley when Peet’s first opened there and became so fond of the coffee they had it shipped to Florida for 14 years when they moved there.
Ann Foley, who said she goes to Peet’s in Novato and Santa Rosa, argued that the attraction of a Peet’s store would draw foot traffic down Broadway from the Plaza, to the benefit of numerous Broadway businesses.
But while 15 of 22 speakers praised Peet’s, not everyone wanted to see the store in Sonoma.
Karla Noyes, who described herself as “Daniel in the lion’s den,” charged that the presence of a Peet’s “would be a threat to independent local coffee shops,” and that Peet’s patrons would end up parking in the nearby post office lot.
Bob Felder, chair of the Planning Commission, told the council he was “extremely concerned about the increased intensity of use” at the Broadway site, pointing out that trip generation “will increase from three to 258” in the morning hours, and from three to 91 trips in the afternoon.
Felder said he doubted the accuracy of a traffic impact study that found few negative consequences from the increased visits.
And Dave Mock, owner of the Hot Shots drive-through coffee shop nearby on Broadway, warned that 85 anticipated pedestrian patrons, most coming from the east side and having to cross Broadway, would be put at risk.
But the pro-Peet’s sentiment clearly carried the day and there was little indication from council members that they felt any differently.
Noted council member Tom Rouse, “People love Peet’s. I have a lot of friends in the Bay Area and I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve gotten from people who say, ‘How can you not have Peet’s?’”
Mayor Pro Tem Ken Brown added that, “The sales tax and the property tax are not insignificant.”
With that, the 5-0 vote was almost anti-climactic.