Pacific Palisades Shell Owner Defends Hours, Alcohol Sale to Community Council

By Sue Pascoe

The Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) held a public discussion on Thursday night, Feb. 9 about proposed operation hours and alcohol sales at the Shell convenience store/gas station.

PPCC President Maryam Zar reminded the board, and an audience of about 20 people, that the store design, location and size had been approved by the Pacific Palisades Design Review Board after five hearings.

Rendering of the proposed Shell mini-mart at the corner of Sunset and Via de la Paz.
Rendering of the proposed Shell mini-mart at the corner of Sunset and Via de la Paz.

Located on the corner of Sunset and Via de la Paz, the new building (replacing the current service bay) will be about 2,000 sq. ft. with about 900 of it used for sales. The other footage will be for an office, trash and stock. (By law, owner Saeed Kohanoff could build up to 24,000 sq.ft. on the property, which is zoned C2, used for gas stations.)

Kohanoff, who owned the Mobil station on Sunset at Swarthmore, told the PPCC board that his former station operated 24 hours a day and he was able to sell beer and wine until 2 a.m., per city regulations. He said that in response to concerns aired by Shell’s residential neighbors, his hours will be 5 a.m. to midnight. The current Shell station operates 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

There was a discussion about why the station had to open so early. Kohanoff explained that when he owned the Mobil station, surgeons stopped by on their way to the hospital and there were always people who got up early to go to the airport.

Some audience members and board members expressed concern that the con- venience store would attract undesirables from out of the area, and the lights and noise from customers would affect residents who live in the adjacent condominium building.

Kohanoff responded that his Mobil station store was a gathering place for security company personnel and police, since this was the sole store/gas station on Sunset between Hollywood and Pacific Coast Highway.

Zar asked 1029 Via de la Paz Condo President Jill Jones if they have had problems in the past with the Shell station and if they spoke to the owner about it. Zar also asked her how willing Kohanoff had been to meet with the group.

Jones said that they had met numerous times but had not come to an agreement. [There have been three PPCC meetings, five DRB meetings and four meetings in Councilman Mike Bonin’s office with both parties attending.]

Disagreeing with Jones, Kohanoff said that because of neighborhood concerns he has scaled back his operating hours, and has rearranged the station’s exit and entrance driveways off Via de la Paz.

Stuart Muller, a former longtime member of the PPCC, said that the gas station had been at that site before the condominium building was constructed.

Kohanoff had a liquor license at the Mobil station and will apply to ABC to again sell beer and wine. He will not sell single containers and is proposing sales from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Additionally, anyone buying liquor would need a driver’s license or state identification, which would then be swiped through a machine for verification.

Resident Marge Gold, who had canvassed every mini-market in the Palisades Specific Plan area, said none sold alcohol and that the Shell station should not automatically be granted a license.

Area 6 Representative David Kaplan asked, “What is the justification for selling beer and wine when you can buy it at Gelson’s or at Caruso’s [when it opens]?”

Kohanoff said he had the same services at his prior business and that it was not fair to make him give up his license.

Caruso will ask for seven liquor licenses, five for on-site sale, two for take-out.

“I don’t think it’s fair to single out the [Shell] owner,” said Reza Akef, Area 8 representative. “We either need to have a community policy in place or decide how to handle this. Will we single out Caruso, too?”

The PPCC will discuss findings from the meeting and decide if there is a consensus before making recommendations to the City Planning Department and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. After the meeting, Zar was asked if Caruso will bring its alcohol license applications to the PPCC as Kohanoff did, or if it will be able to avoid this local input and go directly to the city. Zar did not know, but said she would check.

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