The vacant 10,000 square-foot lot on N. Santa Fe Avenue may remain vacant longer after the Vista City Council denied a special use permit for a potential bargain basement store to open and sell alcohol. Photo by Tony Cagala
The vacant 10,000 square-foot lot on N. Santa Fe Avenue may remain vacant longer after the Vista City Council denied a special use permit for a potential bargain basement store to open and sell alcohol. Photo by Tony Cagala
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Bargain basement store can open but can’t sell alcohol

VISTA — The request for a special use permit to allow a possible bargain basement store to sell beer and wine was denied on Tuesday.

In a split vote, one to allow the bargain basement store to open was passed 4-1, while another vote, to deny the special use permit for the bargain basement store to sell alcohol was denied 4-1.

While the site on N. Santa Fe Avenue has been sitting vacant and become a target for vandalism over the past two years, the decision not to approve the special use permit to sell alcohol, may keep the site vacant even longer.

Steve Rawlings, who spoke on behalf of the Dollar General stores, told the Council before any decision was made, that it was his understanding that if the ability to sell beer and wine at the site was denied, the business would probably withdraw and not proceed with opening the store.

John Conley, director of Community Development and Engineering did recommend the City Council approve the store to open for the reasons of the business agreeing to improve the overall look of the building and the landscaping, which he described as being in “fairly poor condition.”

Conley recommended the City Council deny the special permit use to sell alcohol at the site. He cited the high crime rate in the neighborhood as shown in the Sheriff’s Department beat crime report having increased 50 percent from 2012 to 2013.

The Dollar General store would be the first to open in San Diego County, according to Rawlings. He said there are approximately 150 to 175 stores in the state, which began opening in California in 2012 — the closest one to the county being in the city of Perris.

Rawlings added that Vista was selected because it “fit their demographic,” of a suburban setting.

“Unfortunately we’ve got an area that’s already impacted with stores,” said Deputy Mayor John Aguilera. “I think this area has enough liquor stores or availability of liquor in the area.”

According to the city’s presentation, there are eight other establishments along the avenue that have permits to sell beer and wine.

Dollar General Corporation is based in Tennessee and has 11,000 small-box discount  stores nationwide.

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