The San Marino City Council meeting March 13 at City Hall featured presentations of awards to the San Marino Police Department (SMPD) and the council heard from both representatives of San Marino’s Starbucks on Huntington Drive and residents concerned with the practices of the business.
The Patriot Award of the California Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) was presented to SMPD Chief John Incontro, Sergeant Robert Cervantes and Sergeant Tim Tebbetts. ESGR volunteer Cassandra Dones presented the award on behalf of SMPD Cadet Kyle Kitigawa, who wanted to recognize them for their support and assistance in making accommodations for him before his deployment with the National Guard.
“These three men all have helped Kyle be able to perform his duties in the National Guard without worrying about what’s happening with his job, so it makes his mind free and clear,” said Dones.
On the issue of Starbucks on Huntington Drive, a public hearing centered on the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) of the business and an appeal filed by San Marino residents Hector Gutierrez and Linda Gutierrez on Dec. 13, 2018. The appeal sought for the City Council to reject the commission’s modifications to Starbucks’ initial CUP and noted that “Starbucks has repeatedly and flagrantly violated the terms of its CUP with respect to delivery times, causing harm to residents and demonstrating bad faith in adhering to the requirements of the CUP.” They also shared concerns that parts of the CUP “were deleted” and included removing a warning that the city could impose for future violations and specific instructions to “protect residents” from employees or managers parking in the residential streets.
At the meeting Wednesday, it was announced that Starbucks had changed its delivery window to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and reduced the size of the trucks so that roadways are not blocked during deliveries on Huntington Drive.
“I just again want to again remind you we’re talking about Starbucks,” said Linda Gutierrez. “I have no parallel to any commercial business on Huntington that can make as much money and as much traffic as Starbucks does. And that’s the reason the CUP in 1994 was established and that was to protect the residents. Please keep that in mind because I think that’s a big issue for residents.”
The original delivery time from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. was mentioned at the meeting and Starbucks representative Keith Glassman requested that the council uphold the Planning Commission’s previous condition of approval.
“We’ve remedied the issues of delveries by closing the band of hours of our deliveries,” said Glassman. “We will continue to monitor that. Nothing is perfect in operations but we are making sure two weeks after the approval, it took time to tweak the vendors through Seattle. We apologize for the two week delay in that.”
Glassman was in the company of the store’s manager, Jenelle Argueta, and district manager Josh Tonejes. They updated the council on changes and Glassman noted that “we’re going over and above with self-regulation.” Glassman also requested that leeway time be added so that Starbucks is not punished for an occasional late delivery due to corporate communication issues or delivery problems.
Council Member Steve Talt noted that Starbucks was a valued business in the community while pressing a concern about an uncertain window of delivery time.
“The principal concern that the local residents have who are burdened by this is the delivery time,” said Talt. “You’re telling me, and I appreciate it, that…corporate has a policy and you’re working with them to restrict deliveries to 10 to 2, and yet you’re also telling us you don’t want us to button down that as part of a conditional use permit because it may change. And I’m from San Marino and I hate change, so really I would prefer you find a time and agree to it if you want approval.”
“We like to have that flexibility but it doesn’t mean we’re going to take advantage of that flexibility,” said Glassman.
Council Member Ken Ude shared that Starbucks has “shown good faith” in trying to make the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. window while pointing out that considerations for changes should be taken into reasonable account.
“I appreciate corporate policies might change, I appreciate trucks get flat fires, so a reasonable window of 9 to 5 or 9 to 6 whatever number may be makes sense to me,” said Ude. “Before 9 o’ clock does not make sense, after 7 o’clock does not makes sense, but there’s some reasonable window in there that should work for everybody.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, Ude motioned to refer back to the Planning Commission with directions to consider a reasonable delivery window and there was no second. Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey motioned for there to be a hearing in 40 days for new evidence to be presented and heard, with Council Member Susan Jakubowski seconding it. The motion for the hearing passed 3-2 with Jakubowski, Shepherd Romey and Mayor Dr. Steven Huang supporting, and Talt and Ude opposing.