San Mateo 7-Eleven loses fight to keep doors open

January 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
In San Mateo, the owners of a convenience store have just lost a fight to keep their new business open. Neighbors are fighting to shut it down. It's a 7-Eleven store located at North San Mateo Drive and East Bellevue Avenue.

A city attorney decided to reverse the decision of the previous city attorney and gave 7-Eleven the right to operate in that neighborhood. Now the city has voted unanimously to revoke 7-Eleven's permit and ultimately go head-to-head with the corporate giant in a legal battle.

"I love it. It's quite convenient. A lot of the little stores we have around here are closed by 8 o'clock in the evening," said neighbor Thomas Gray.

Despite the approval of some, an organized group of San Mateo neighbors says the 7-Eleven store was illegally allowed to move into a former deli at the corner of North San Mateo Drive and East Bellevue Avenue.

"It's a quiet, sleepy, little neighborhood. Look at the folks across the street at the apartment building. They have to look at these lights all night long," said neighbor Peter Martin.

The neighbors cite a city code stating the original commercial zoning use expired after the building was vacant for more than six months. Now they want it rezoned as residential. The problem is the city already issued a commercial permit to 7-Eleven and the store has been operating for more than two weeks.

"You can't put the milk back in the bottle," said 7-Eleven attorney Steven Jamieson.

Attorneys for 7-Eleven say the company will lose $8 million and a decision to revoke its permit will force it to take legal action against the city.

"It will violate the law. It will violate the Constitutional rights of the property owner," said Jamieson.

The attorney for the neighbors accused 7-Eleven of bullying the city into reversing its decision.

"The property owner and its tenant, 7-Eleven, either decided to take a calculated business risk or simply fail to do their proper due diligence before purchasing the property and entering into a long-term lease," said the neighbors' attorney Camus Steinmetz.

The San Mateo City Council voted unanimously to revoke 7-Eleven's permit to do business at the location. Mayor David Lim told ABC7 News that even though the city's legal team made a mistake, the city should do what's right, even if it means fighting 7-Eleven in court.


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