San Mateo residents win battle against 7-Eleven

There was a big victory on Friday for some neighbors in San Mateo that fought the opening of a 7-Eleven store in their neighborhood.
March 21, 2014 10:19:25 PM PDT
There was a big victory on Friday for some neighbors in San Mateo that fought the opening of a 7-Eleven store.

The city reached a settlement with the store's operators to close their doors at North San Mateo Drive and East Bellevue Avenue. ABC7 News' Vic Lee has been following this story for more than a year.

As you can imagine, the neighbors we spoke to are absolutely delighted by the settlement and so is the city, which promises that the store's location will never revert to commercial use again. The only one unhappy is 7-Eleven, which says it did everything possible to be a good neighbor.

"It's a good ending and hopefully something nice will happen to this property," said Richard Smith, a neighbor.

In the settlement, the city will pay $150,000 to 7-Eleven and the property owners and the store will close by the end of this month. It's been an ugly and costly legal battle since 7-Eleven opened its doors just over a year ago. Hundreds of neighbors in the quiet San Mateo neighborhood banded together, signing petitions and demonstrating, asking the city to close it down. They didn't want a convenience store that's open all night that might attract the wrong crowd and a lot of unwanted traffic in this family-friendly neighborhood.

"A lot of money's been spent on both sides and even the neighbors have put up over $40,000 in legal fees. We're not going to be reimbursed," said Smith.

"7-Eleven is not a bad company. The 7-Eleven just doesn't belong here in the middle of the neighborhood," said Jeff Gilbert, a neighbor.

The store sits on land which was originally designated as a residential zone. The old store -- an Italian deli -- was grandfathered in as a legal non-conforming building. Neighbors argued that the property should have reverted back to residential use when it became vacant. But city staff ruled otherwise and issued a permit. Residents kept up the pressure, going all the way to the city council, where they got what they wanted.

"The council looked at it again and reviewed and determined that the staff's determination was a mistake and that the property had to comply with the residential zoning requirements," said San Mateo City Attorney Shawn Mason.

In January, a judge refused to overturn that decision.

7-Eleven issued a statement which reads in part we're "very disappointed with the California state court's ruling" and that "in good faith and relying on the permits that were issued by the city, we opened this location."

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