Palo Alto residents upset Walgreens will sell alcohol

January 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Some Palo Alto residents are accusing a national drug store chain of going back on its word, a promise not to sell alcohol.

At this Walgreens in Palo Alto, you can find shampoo, cold medicine, and candy. Now, the company wants to expand its selection, to include beer and wine. A notice was posted from California Alcoholic Beverage Control and there are residents who do not like it.

"The irresponsible drinkers and the drivers will pull right in there and come real close to families and mothers holding their kids hands," said Doug Summers, a Palo Alto resident.

Those who live just across from Walgreens are outraged and they are threatening to form a picket line. Four schools are in the area and kids constantly fill the store. Neighbors say the developer assured them 15 years ago, before the store was built, that alcohol would not be sold here.

"He promised us this would not happen. There are kids playing in the neighborhood within 100 feet, this doesn't make sense in this kind of area," said resident David Erlich.

Neighbors even have memos dating back to 1994 demanding the sale of liquor be prohibited, but they do not have paperwork proving Walgreens promised to comply.

In a statement, Walgreens Corporate Spokesperson Robert Elfinger said, "Our business needs have changed. Our customers' demands have changed. They want a one-stop shopping experience."

The store will not sell hard alcohol or single cans of beer. The possible addition did not bother many shoppers.

"Personally, I don't really care because there's liquor stores all around the area," said resident Kiyoshi Kawano.

"I can't imagine in this neighborhood it's going to bring in a bad element. It's too hoighty toighty a neighborhood," said resident Kathryn Stewart.

Residents plan to take this matter to City Council on Monday night to try to get their support. However, ABC7 spoke with someone in the planning department and she said the city has not say in this matter and that it is all up to the state to issue the permit.