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Council supports license for liquor store

La Cañada Flintridge City Council members split 3-2 Monday on plans for a new liquor store to open in the former Foothill Liquor location, the majority ultimately deciding to support a new operator’s bid for a state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control License — but not without some conditions of their own.

In exchange for a letter of support to the ABC, city officials want a guarantee that the 823 Foothill Blvd. location will forgo vending machines, operate no later than 10 p.m., and submit to city approval of window displays and other façade elements.

The site was leased early this year by Melina Issakhanian, who currently operates a liquor store in Glendale and who said she is a high-end liquor and wine retailer who would meet all of the council’s new conditions.

Because Foothill Liquor’s previous operators lost their ABC license and the site has been dormant, Issakhanian must apply for a new state license, a process that calls for input from local government.

Councilmen Greg Brown and David Spence voted against supporting the revival of liquor sales at the location by issuing a letter of public convenience or necessity.

Brown cited previous council decisions to deny liquor sales at gas stations and prevent a Rubio’s location from obtaining a license, a move that eventually caused the restaurant to shutter.

“We put a cap on fast-food restaurants. It doesn’t seem to me the exception should be a liquor store,” said Brown.

Councilman Stephen Del Guercio first suggested adding conditions of support.

“If this were a new request, I’d be there 100%,” he said of Brown’s opposition, “but I think there needs to be consideration that this was previously operating as a store.”

Spence objected to a lack of parking at the site, but Councilwoman Laura Olhasso said that any use of the building would face that same challenge and that the issue would not have arisen without expiration of the previous license.

“To me, it’s little more than a technicality because of the time lapse. If we were interested in reducing the number of liquor stores, we should have done that last time,” said Mayor Donald Voss, who cited earlier approval of liquor sales at Trader Joe’s.

Planning Commission members last week approved plans for Henry’s Market, expected to open next year in the former Sport Chalet location on Foothill Boulevard, that include liquor sales.

Though ultimately outvoted, Spence won a condition that storefront windows retain a clear line of sight into the building and not be cluttered with advertisements.

Citing constituent concerns about the appearance of the dormant Foothill Liquor location, Del Guercio added that city officials should get final approval of façade colors and decorative elements before its reopening.