Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nic Nak Liquors---A Liquor Store Coming to Your Neighborhood Soon

North Oakland and South Berkeley are littered with liquor stores. The blighting effect of these car-oriented businesses is far and wide--litter, graffiti, loitering, boom cars, drug dealing, vandalism, and even murder. Neighbors living near liquor stores in North Oakland and South Berkeley have had their quality of life greatly diminished by liquor stores and their patrons. Neighbors have reported drunks passed out on their lawns, bottles and cans strewn about, cars broken into and rifled through for change, and fear of alcohol-fueled disputes that end in violence, sometimes even in death.

South Berkeley and North Oakland residents have fought hard to severely limit and shut down several nuisance liquor stores. The Shattuck Crime Prevention Council has worked diligently to address crime and nuisance activities that emanate from these outlets, such as Uptown Market on Shattuck Avenue. There is little doubt that liquor stores and the ubiquitous mini-markets that sell alcohol are magnets for problems. Owners and operators have little incentive or ability to police those patrons who cause significant quality of life issues in the community because they are fearful of reprisals from violent drunks and gang members. Moreover, the owners make significant money selling single serving alcohol and fortified liquors to these patrons.

Given the problematic nature of liquor stores and mini-markets that sell alcohol, why on earth would the Oakland Planning Commission bend over backwards to approve a Major Conditional Use Permit and Variance to allow another liquor store in North Oakland--particularly when the City's own Planning and Legal Staff were set to recommend denial of the alcohol sales? Why? Because of race, gentrification and an outcry to retain black-owned businesses. Nothing in the administrative record, testimony from members of the community at the public hearing, analysis by City Planning and Legal Staff or discussion by the City Planning Commission provides a legal or factual basis to support findings for a Major Conditional Use Permit and Variance to allow another liquor store.

Nic Nak Liquors, which is located at 6400 Shattuck Avenue on the corner of Shattuck and Alcatraz is owned by Ashrious Pannell Sr. He has owned the property for the last forty years and has at times operated a convenience and liquor store at that location. In 2004, Mr. Pannell of his own accord, shut down his convenience and liquor store. According to Mr. Pannell, he did so because he was ill. One fact is incontrovertible; Mr. Pannell was completely shut down and out of the liquor business for at least five years. On April 28, 2004, the City Planning Department informed Mr. Pannell (the property owner and business operator) by letter, that because he had shut down for more than 90 days his permit for liquor sales had been revoked and he would have to renew his permit. In essence, his Deemed Approved Status as a legal nonconforming use had lapsed. During the 10-day appeal period, Mr. Pannell failed to appeal the Planning Department's revocation and during the five year period he was shut down failed to apply for a Major Conditional Use Permit and Variance to continue the liquor sales. All the while, Mr. Pannell retained his liquor license, which is governed by State regulation and the Alcohol Beverage Control. Several times he attempted to sell his liquor license, but the buyers backed out. Most likely because Mr. Pannell had lost his Deemed Approved Status as a legal nonconforming use.

In Spring of 2009, Mr. Pannell, using a different business name, J0 Jo's, applied for an over the counter permit from the City of Oakland Planning Department to re-establish his liquor sales as if it were a Deemed Approved, legal nonconforming use. City Staff erroneously then issued Mr. Pannell a permit and he re-opened and began selling liquor. When residents and neighbors, including the East Lorin Neighborhood Association and the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council, realized that Mr. Pannell was selling liquor, they contacted the City Planning Department and requested an evaluation of his permit. The City, under Zoning Administrator Scott Miller, determined the over the counter permit had been issued in error, rescinded the permit and requested that Mr. Pannell cease liquor sales and apply for a Major Conditional Use Permit and a Variance since his Deemed Approved Status had lapsed and his business is located within 1,000 feet of an existing liquor store.

What is critical here is that the approved public policy of the City Council is to limit the establishment of new liquor stores, prevent the over saturation of liquor stores in certain areas that already have an abundance of liquor outlets, and prevent liquor stores from clustering.

The City states that: The prevalence of retail liquor sales is an important public policy issue in Oakland. The City Council has determined that there is an over-concentration of off-sale liquor facilities and that there has been a great deal of documented nuisance and other public safety problems due to the prevalence of retail liquor outlets and the conditions under which some of these stores operate. Therefore, the Council has decided to invoke its police power to control the manner, extent, type and other operational characteristics of this type of activity through the Conditional Use Permit procedure in Planning Code Section 17.134. All commercial zones, require that a use permit be approved prior to allowing retail liquor sales. This use permit process provides for public notification and hearing, assessment of extent and nature of liquor sales activity in relation to other retail sales and the conditions and requirements within which the sales will occur including type of liquor sold, extent of floor area devoted to liquor sales, hours of operation, security and anti-loitering provisions, etc.

The requirements of a Variance are specifically related to topography and physical constraints and are somewhat difficult to meet. This link to the City of Oakland website provides detailed information to applicants as to what findings an applicant must meet for the City to approve a Variance.

The City website states that: A Variance is permission to depart from the development standards, or setbacks, of the zoning district. Variances provide the discretion and flexibility to resolve difficulties or hardships that may be inappropriate where special or extraordinary circumstances occur on the property. These circumstances do not mean economic hardship; rather, they refer to topographic or physical attributes of the site that do not allow for the development standards of the Zoning District to be applied.

According to the City, Variances in circumstances like the Nic Nak Liquor Store are granted only when all four of the following findings can be made:

Unique Circumstance that is Specific to the Property
The strict compliance with the specified regulation would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship inconsistent with the purposes of the zoning regulations, due to unique physical or topographic circumstances or conditions of design; or as an alternative in the case of a minor variance, that such strict compliance would preclude an effective design solution improving livability, operational efficiency or appearance.

Minimizes the Differences Between Properties in the Same Zoning District
That strict compliance with the regulations would deprive the applicant of privileges enjoyed by owners of similarly zoned property; or as an alternative in the case of a minor variance, that such strict compliance would preclude an effective design solution fulfilling the basic intent of the applicable regulation.

No Adverse Impacts to the Neighborhood
That the Variance, if granted, will not adversely affect the character, livability, or appropriate development of abutting properties of the surrounding area, and will not be detrimental to the public welfare or contrary to adopted plans or development policy.

No Special Privilege
That the Variance will not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with limitations imposed on similarly zoned properties or inconsistent with the purposes of the zoning regulations.

The City Planning Staff in their original staff report dated August 5, 2009, recommended denial of the liquor sales, but approval of the convenience market.

The staff report noted that: The proposed Variance to the 1,000 foot separation standard in a neighborhood could set a precedent for other alcohol sales applications in the area...Allowing alcohol sales uses to cluster closer than the 1,000 foot radius could be detrimental to the vitality of an emerging commercial and mixed-node....Staff recommends denial of the Major Variance and Conditional Use Permit for Alcoholic Beverage Sales. The findings required by the Oakland Planning Code are not fulfilled in this case. Granting the request would cause an adverse precedent. The liquor store lost its legal status 5 years ago and community demand has been well-served by other Alcoholic Beverage Sales locations. A neighboring market already provides beer and wine services to the immediate Shattuck neighborhood. Several other liquor stores provide services near the edge of the 1,000 foot radius from this store; and this additional venue for liquor is not necessary. The potential for adverse secondary effects, such as loitering and littering, would likely increase with another operator in the future.

This appeared to an open and shut case for denial. However, the public hearing turned the tide. Mr. Pannell, who is an elderly African-American, brought a legion of supporters to the Planning Commission, almost all, with a few exceptions were African-American, including family members, his minister, members of his church, the Black Chamber of Commerce, and members of the controversial Uhuru Group. Most, but not all, of his supporters are not residents of the East Lorin Neighborhood. Those opposing his application to sell liquor were almost all white and included members of the East Lorin Neighborhood Association, the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council and other neighborhood business owners.

In introducing the matter, the City Planner, David Valeska, noted to the Planning Commissioners that they were likely to hear much testimony that was irrelevant to the issue at hand and that they needed to focus on the legal requirements for meeting a Major Conditional Use Permit and a Variance.

Those opposed to another liquor store testified about the over saturation of liquor stores in North Oakland and South Berkeley identifying approximately 19 off-sale liquor outlets within walking distance or a short drive from the proposed Nic Nak Liquors. The Chair of the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council testified about the extensive and sustained efforts the community has taken to make Beat 11x in North Oakland safer and how detrimental another liquor store would be. The Chair of the East Lorin Neighborhood Association noted that the only issue before the Planning Commission was whether the proposed alcohol sales met the requirements of a Variance. He also noted that the neighborhood and community was changing and that additional liquor stores were not what the community wanted to see. He also pointed out that there had been a significant community effort to curtail nuisance liquor stores in North Oakland and South Berkeley.

On the other hand, Mr. Pannell and his legion of supporters did not provide any factual evidence or any supporting basis as to why his property and business should be granted a Variance from the requirements of the City Ordinances for liquor sales. What he and his supporters did testify to was Mr. Pannell's life story as a war veteran, as someone who put himself through college on the GI Bill, as an Alameda County Sheriff, as a responsible business owner, and as a "pillar of the community". He also testified that he and his family had been the single largest African-American property and business owner in North Oakland.

Then, Mr. Pannell and his entourage testified that he was a victim of City bureaucracy. That the City was somehow out to get him since they revoked his permit to sell liquor. He suggested that the opposition, which was largely white, was racist. He and his entourage testified that he was a victim of gentrification that was not only pushing out African-Americans from North Oakland, but actively working to shut down African-American businesses. He lamented at all of the convenience stores now owned by those of Middle Eastern descent and the demise of black-owned businesses. At one point, in an attempt to discredit the City Planner assigned to the case, Mr. Pannell and his entourage even claimed that the City Planner, Mr. Valeska, had been disrespectful to him suggesting that an elderly man should not be running such a business. In an odd moment, this accusation elicited a spirited rebuttal from Mr. Valeska denying the claims and a rebuke from the Planning Commission to the Pannell supporters not to make this personal. Mr. Pannell also threatened to sue the City if he was not granted his liquor sales. When queried about the acceptability of certain conditions such as not selling fortified liquors, single servings of alcohol or high octane beer, a feisty Mr. Pannell demanded that unless all existing liquor stores in Oakland be held to the same exact conditions it would be unfair to impose them upon his upstanding business.

At one point Mr. Pannell even claimed that he never got the City's letter revoking his Deemed Approved Status, then upon further questioning claimed that he did not understand the notice. One has to wonder how Mr. Pannell, a self proclaimed "pillar of the community", a former Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy, and an educated businessman could not understand a simple notice from the City. Either he got the notice or he didn't.

In short, Mr. Pannell and his entourage painted him alternately as a "pillar of the community" and as a victim of the City bureaucracy, racism and gentrification. What is strange is that We Fight Blight, despite being very active in the North Oakland community for the past nine years, had never heard of Mr. Pannell until he re-opened his liquor store in the Spring of 2009 and has never encountered Mr. Pannell at any community functions.

Several Planning Commissioners, led by the now departed Anne E. Mudge, who is an attorney at Cox, Castle, and Nicholson with 20 years of land use law under her belt, correctly noted that it is the adopted public policy of the City of Oakland to limit and control liquor stores. Then in a complete turnaround that was both shocking and surprising, Commissioner Mudge posited that the findings for a Variance could be made based on the proposition that Mr. Pannell was a "pillar of the community" and the longevity of his business. What was so strange about her position was that the requirements of a Variance do not speak to the issue of a person's character or the longevity of their business. Variances within the context of land use law and the Oakland Planning Regulations are limited to unique physical or topographic circumstances or conditions of design. Commissioner Mudge, nor any of the other Commissioners, were able to provide any other basis for meeting the findings of a Variance. In a 4-1 straw vote, the Planning Commissioners sent the Planning Staff back to prepare findings and conditions for approval.

Mr. Pannell and his entourage played the community and the City Planning Commission. It is very disappointing that someone, such as Anne E. Mudge, with such a distinguished career as a land use attorney could not make the right decision. She could not see her way through the emotion and through the irrelevant arguments advanced by Mr. Pannell, failed to do her duty as a Planning Commissioner and treat Mr. Pannell as any other applicant by denying his application for a Variance and actually led the charge to approve his application despite the significant problems of not being able to make the appropriate findings to approve a Variance.

The City Planning Staff were left with the unenviable position of trying to fashion an approval for a project they were recommending be denied. Obviously, the City Planning Staff has struggled considerably to rewrite the staff recommendation and make the appropriate findings as there is little to no factual underpinnings to support approval. What the City Planning Commission asked the City Planning Staff to do has no precedent in Oakland or in land use law to which we are aware. They are moving into significantly unchartered territory.

The staff findings for approval states that: Historical relevance of the 6400 Shattuck Avenue property constitutes a unique physical circumstance. The facility and activity cannot be moved while retaining these historical associations, including neighborhood, social and leadership activities. Without a variance, the business may be forced to close, resulting in unecessary hardship inconsistent with the purpose of the zoning regulations. Rather than protecting the neighborhood, denying the variance could adversely change the historical relationships in this part of the neighborhood. In addition, the physical aspects of the property are unique: the building is nearly the only commercial building in the adjacent blocks which is set back this much from the commercial street. The positions of other buildings blocks visibility of the building, perhaps reducing its commercial viability and making it more difficult to sustain sufficient commerce on convenience sales alone; alcoholic beverage sales may be needed to offset this condition of design in the existing commercial structure.

What is so laughable about this finding is that City Policy explicitly notes that: A Variance is permission to depart from the development standards, or setbacks, of the zoning district. Variances provide the discretion and flexibility to resolve difficulties or hardships that may be inappropriate where special or extraordinary circumstances occur on the property. These circumstances do not mean economic hardship; rather, they refer to topographic or physical attributes of the site that do not allow for the development standards of the Zoning District to be applied. What Planning Staff notes is that the business may be forced to close if it does not have liquor sales--This would be an economic hardship, not one of topography or physical attributes. The site is flat and is located at the corner of a major city intersection. Moreover, the Planning Staff's claim that the business may close if it does not have liquor sales is an unsubstantiated assertion not supported by the Administrative Record since Mr. Pannell and his supporters have not provided any financial data or business pro-forma to prove this. Morever, if the business failed, which is unlikely since Mr. Pannell has owned the property outright for many years and his operational and personnel costs appear to be relatively low as this is a family-owned business, this would be an economic hardship, not one of topography or physical attributes.

The notion that historical relevance constitutes a unique physical circumstance is absurd and turns land use law on its head. The fact that some type of store has been in operation at 6400 Shattuck for some 40 years and that the property owner is a self proclaimed "pillar of the community" does not constitute a special or extraordinary circumstance related to topography or physical attributes. There are any number of nonconforming legal land uses that have existed for some time in Oakland with a proprietor that could claim to be a "pillar of the community". That denying the Variance could somehow cause historic relationships to be severed is preposterous and unsubstantiated by the Administrative Record. Mr. Pannell himself does not even live in the community, although some of his family does. He reportedly has a home in Clear Lake California and a residence in the Trestle Glen neighborhood of Oakland. The majority of his supporters are not from the East Lorin Neighborhood. His business has been shut down for five years. Since that time, a wave of new residents have moved to the East Lorin Neighborhood and to North Oakland, the majority of whom do not even know Mr. Pannell and have never even set foot into his shuttered business.

The idea that because the store is set back from the sidewalk along Shattuck is somehow a special or extraordinary circumstance related to topography or physical attributes that somehow makes this property less viable and, therefore, requires alcohol sales to make it profitable is not factually supported by the Adminstrative Record. Remember that this store is located at the cross-roads of Shattuck Avenue and Alcatraz Avenue. Both Shattuck and Alcatraz Avenue are major transportation corridors that bring significant traffic into and out of North Oakland and Berkeley and to Highway 24 and 580. There are also AC Transit bus stops on three of the four corners. It is also a major pedestrian corridor for those walking to BART and a major bicycle thoroughfare. There is simply no way not to see the Nic Nak Liquor Store from this major intersection. It is highly visible from three of the four corners of this intersection. The notion that it is hidden or blocked by other structures is simply not true given the major intersection and the pole signage and the signage on the building. The setback to which the Planning Staff refers provides off-street parking. Most retailers and shop owners would view a corner lot with off-street parking as a competitive advantage, not a topographic or physical disadvantage. Moreover, the setback is not related to topography or a physical attribute of the site, but a choice by the property owner to develop his site with the setback for parking. Had Mr. Pannell chosen to do so, he could have developed the property similar to other historic building structures by pulling the building to the corner. This was a site design choice, not a result of some special or extraordinary topographic or physical constraint. The lot is of a standard depth, is flat and is located on a corner. Nothing unusual.

Remember all four of the findings must be made to approve a Variance. The Planning Staff cannot even reasonably justify the first finding for Nic Nak because there is no evidence or factual basis to support findings of approval. There is no extraordinary or unusual circumstances related to topography or the physical characteristics of the site.

According to the Urban Strategies Council, there are 325 stores in the City of Oakland that sell liquor. With a population of 411,775 residents,that means that there is one liquor store for every 1,267 people. North Oakland does not need more liquor stores. Oakland does not need more liquor stores. Despite the claims of some Planning Commissioners to the contrary, approval of this Major Conditional Use Permit and Variance means that it will set a precedent not only for North Oakland but the entire City.

Why does the City needlessly encourage such poor decisions that cry out for lawsuits? This case is ripe not only for appeal to the City Council, but may also be subject to litigation in the courts. The staff findings for approval are at best weak, and have no basis in the Adminstrative Record. You can thank former Planning Commissoner, Anne E. Mudge, for this morass. What a departing gift!

Although this matter has been highly controversial both in the community and at the hearing for denial of the liquor sales, the findings for approval of the Conditional Use Permit and Variance is scheduled as a consent calendar item for the September 16, 2009 Planning Commission Meeting. Sadly, this effectively eliminates the public's ability to weigh in on the precedent setting nature of this approval and the incredibly weak staff findings.


East of Alameda said...

phenomenal write up. Standing the precedents of land use on their head because of external considerations weakens the entire system of zoning regulation. This is why people are so wary of the awarding of variances and CUPs.

withinONEblock said...

Well done!

I attended the meeting and was horrified at the OPEN racism toward both Caucasian and Middle Eastern people exhibited by the members of the Pannell entourage. It was quite clear their strategy was to play to "White guilt" in the hopes that all logic and LAW would be ignored - and guess what? It worked.

The mostly White Planners nodded their heads while hatred was spewed and bowed to their guilt in voting 4-1.

The TRUTH is that the neighbors DON'T want this license to go through. But, with many Oakland policies, it looks as tho' cronyism and blatant disregard for the law will once again win out.

It will be a sad, sad day for the neighborhood, a neighborhood having worked so hard to climb out of it's difficult years, if this does pass.

My only hope is that the new members will see clearly how the law is being disrespected by even considering approving this license.

Sigh. So I guess THIS whole debacle is a prime example of why Oakland isn't the city it *should be!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in this neighborhood, my mom, grandmother, an aunt and uncle remain. The term used by an "East Lorin Neighborhood Assn. member" was, "the neighborhood is changing", someone else said " a neighborhood that worked so hard to climb out of its difficulties". I know as well as anyone the challenges this neighborhood has faced with blight, violence and little to no collective resolve by the neighborhood in the past to remedy the problems. And although I agree there should not be yet another liquor store, there or anywhere for that matter, what I struggle with is the way, middle class caucasians have come to this neighborhood, virtually taking advantage of lower and middle class African-Americans' inability - for whatever the reason to come together and save their neighborhood, and in essence gentrified it, now stand as it's saviors. But these who know how to come together, and stand up to city government, and stand for the neighborhood, didn't come here to help those already here to do it for themselves, like "real" good neighbors, friends and caring citizens of Oakland should do for each other, making all our lives better where we live. But now come, and underneath it all, intimate the problems were because African-Americans lived here. There was no "vested interest", to help, and now the interest seems to be to keep African-Americans out of the "changed neighborhood". And that's what's caused a sad day, long before this issue with Nic-Nac Liquors.

Fight Blight said...

Thank you Anonymous for your perspective. Gentrification is an economic phenomena that happens to all residents in an area, not just to African-Americans and it has the potential to affect those with lower socio-economic standing the most. The notion that caucausians are somehow deliberately targeting African-Americans in North Oakland to impose their will of gentrification upon them is unfounded. Rather, the cumulative actions of many in a free market are what largely drive gentrification. In North Oakland there is no large-scale targeted government redevelopment efforts driving these changes. They are market driven. No one is trying to keep African-Americans out. In fact, African-Americans who are long-time residents and property owners have benefited from gentrification just like any other property owner through a rise in property values. Many older residents, including African-Americans, have decided to cash in, sell their homes, and take their equity elsewhere. When their homes go up for sale, they are being purchased largely by younger families, most often white. These new residents locate in North Oakland because home prices, compared to other areas like Rockridge and North Berkeley, are reasonable and North Oakland is located near some of the best restaurants and shopping in the East Bay, has great BART access for commuting and easy connections to the freeways, not to mention many cultural and educational opportunities and Berkeley Bowl. The neighborhood institutions that are in place in North Oakland and South Berkeley to deal with crime, drug dealing, over-saturation of liquor stores, and community building are open to any and all residents with very few exceptions. Individual residents have an individual responsibility to help themselves and their community. In my humble opinion, they should not rely on someone else to do it. The they is us. All too often I hear in public meetings and community events, "they should do something...the City should do something..." There is no doubt the neighborhood is changing and will continue to change even in this economic downturn. Communities and cities are not static. Oakland itself throughout it's history has seen dramatic changes in its demographics. In the case of Nic Nak liquors, it is sad that the public hearing was turned into an us against them, white versus black, newcomers versus oldtimers, when the real issue is whether the community really needs and wants another liquor store. Mr. Pannell is no victim here. He is a savy businessman who used all manner and purpose to get something that is not beneficial to our collective community. Race and gentrification were, are, and should be irrelevant to the decision of the City to deny him a permit to sell liquor.

Anonymous said...

As a 38+ year resident of this neighborhood, I am hardly a newcomer. Nor am I a well off yuppie. Rather, I have been involved in raising a couple of kids now 35+ and more rtecently their teen aged cousins. In the past, I have cooperated with both long term and more recent resiidents to get speed bumps, prevent junk food rtestaurants, and prevent a senior housing building which was poorly designed for the site in question. In each of these and a more recent neighborhood effort to modify a condo project, blacks and whites were involved. I am outraged at seeing the effort to control availability of alcohol cast as a race and class issue--the empty bottles on the lawn have no such ID. As to who owns which retail enterprise, I patronise those who stock what I wish to buy.

Patrick said...

Then please direct your outrage at the property owner, Mr. Pannell: he is the one who cast this as a race and class issue.

Anonymous said...

Nic Nak Liqours "liqour store coming to your neighborhood soon. Its always been here SO GET OVER IT!!!!THERE IS NO CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP.I can understand if they where new people but its SAME PEOPLE for 35 years. I was upset when I heard he was sick and had to close. I been living here most of my life except college and I patronize Mr. Pannell. I feel safe there. I send my kids there to that store. I rather have them go to Nic Naks than the place across the street. I watched the hearing on T.V. HE DIDN'T RECEIVE THE NOTICE about the whole 90 day closing. If it was certified then it would be different but it wasnt...Dont you think if he got it he would've done something about it or let it sit there THINK logical. So you guys are going off a technicality???pathetic.....During the hearing his daughter had around 280 signatures from supporters in the immediate area which means people who live near the store. That means there are 280 people who doesn't mind or likes going to this liquor store WHO LIVE IN THE AREA.Since Aug 5 he probably has even more supporters me included. For the people who think it is racism. It was the Truth not racism. Like this store is really going to affect the neighborhood??lets be serious. I am a White woman and I go there all the time and if you don't like going there, fine you don't have to, you can go somewhere else. The reason why i like going there the most is because prices are affordable. Whats wrong with a family attempting to make a living. If you know business my guess for the people who oppose dont, In order to maintain a small footprint business you have to sale items other than just groceries and ice cream to be stable business ok now stop and think about it.........ok moving on.. Lets say if he decided to sale just groceries and ice cream the opposers still wont go patronize him so what does that tell you.?.? furthermore, you have a retired Alameda County Sheriff running the place. Wouldn't you want someone like him to run a liquor store??? Its not like he doesn't know whats going on in the streets. Mr. Pannell been patrolling the streets and fighting crime. Most of you guys look at a crime through your window and then write about it on blog and yahoo groups. If you want to really be heard instead of blogging about it or yahoo groups. Find a police officer in your area flag him down and tell him/or her that there not putting effort job patrolling our streets Other than him and other peace officer you probably don't really know whats going on the streets He seems like a very responsible man.I FULLY SUPPORT HIS STORE : )

Anonymous said...

Look at his place he is NOT pushing alcohol. Do you see a signs that say 6 pack of beer 5.99...NO!!! or PATRON and VODKA sold here NO!!! In addition you have to realize this is OAKLAND, NOT Tracy, Pleasaton, San Leandro, Berkeley. It will always be Oakland In this neighborhood there is a lot of low income housing. I cant imagine this neighborhood not having zero crimes and Im being realistic you should too. If you want a home where there is ZERO crime move to a suburb or make an attempt to kick out low income families out the neighborhood. I am ok living here I like living on Alcatraz Ave. If you dont like it you can leave. If you want to lower crime push the police to get the drug dealers off the streets. You guys watch to much T.V. drug dealers hanging out in front drinking 40.oz and Hennessy, NOT AT THIS STORE. In my years of seeing him operate his business before the closure. If I was throwing a little get together i would go some beer and some tequila to make margaritas. If you ever go inside which you probably don't you can see that he was not that much liquor when you compare other stores that has different flavor vodkas etc. Now i got to go all the way to Alcatel to get something. For the people that act like they never DRINK Alcohol you guys are a bunch of Hippocrates. Jumping on this stupid bandwagon acting like some wannabe playing neighborhood activist I have never seen not one hang out around his business or any drug dealings around his business. I also never seen OPD(Oakland Police Department) at his place for any reason. Ask any other store the that question. I don't know the family personally but when I see them they always smile. In addition his daughter and grandson live right around the corner so there are not outsiders to this community.He wants is what is rightfully closing you people are really pathetic... Trying to nip pick at every little thing, the gate, bullet proof glass and the RV etc. The RV doesn't hurt anybody and the lady said on the tape who lives directly next door all her life want the RV to remain there as well as the fence.hmmmm???Oh and the fence drive down Shattuck Ave between Alcatraz and 66th everyone has fences why he cant have one .Its not hurting you is it STOP and think.....ok moving forward. if owned that business I would want a glass up too so i can feel protected. Think of it like a concierge service where you ask what you want and the give it to you. whats wrong with that, I like it. I go there to get potatoes, orange pear apple and other fruits and vegetable for my house instead of going all the way to Berkeley bowl whats next complaining about security cameras?? Focus your energy toward something else like the repavement of the streets or other liquor stores who do wrong with violations(Nic Nak has zero violations according to the Aug 5, hearing) Please Stop wasting his time and your time and go plant a tree or something...
I support his store..

Kevin said...

As for most of us looking at crime through windows and then blogging...interesting that the individual who wrote that was anonymous. OF COURSE people look at it through windows (from behind curtains and shades!). Like yourself, they want anonymity for protection. They could be killed for interfering in established crime syndicates and their hang-outs (Liquor Stores). And flagging down cops to tell them they are not patrolling the streets sufficiently? Where have you been? There has been an OPD under-staffing issue in Oakland throughout this decade--since city council established a hiring freeze. After the freeze, large numbers of older cops retired, with insufficient numbers of new cops to fill their shoes. Now the situation has been exacerbated by the budget/economy.

The market is saturated--SATURATED with liquor stores in North Oakland. We don't need them. For the ones in existence, if we have to live with them, we demand accountability. As for new proposed stores..."NO!" Neighbors need food and dry goods and other services--not booze. Al's Liquor on West Street was a horrific crime scene until Oakland pulled its liquor permit. Now they sell food and dry goods. No more shootings that I've heard; the neighborhood there improved. If you want to serve the community.....fewer liquor stores...more of what we need....and it ain't booze.

For those panicked that their supply will dry up, be assured: Pak N' Save is on the edge of N. Oakland on San Pablo. You will find booze at half the cost.

I'm not against alcohol consumption. I am not against any particular race. As others have noted, these stores attract crime that threatens the safety and well being of all colors.

Let's blend our colors and speak up.

salmonmoose said...

This would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic. As a former cop, Mr. Pannell should KNOW that applying the law equally to everyone is paramount to civilized society! Yet here he is, trotting out the tired old race card and demanding that he be exempt from the rules because he's a "pillar of the community"?! LMAO! If he really did give a rats ass about the community, he would know that super-saturating it with liquor stores is not the way to go. He would understand that the law applies to EVERYONE, not just the Middle Eastern and white people that he appears to dislike so much, and the law says NO NEW LIQUOR OUTLETS W/IN 1000 FEET OF EXISTING. He let his license lapse when he shut down, so now he does not pass GO, does not collect $200. What about that is so hard to understand? Even if he never got the notice as he "claimed" (yeah right), has that excuse ever stopped the court from jacking up fees on your traffic tickets? Does the judge care? No! You are still responsible and have to pay the consequences. Mr. Pannell is an ex-cop, he should KNOW this stuff.

I drive by Uptown Market every single day and no matter what time of the day or night, what's hanging out in the parking lot? Thugs and losers. I don't want thugs and losers hanging around less than five blocks away from my home while they drink up their courage to go do some crimes.

Mr. Pannell claims to own property all over the place, has a retired sheriff's pension and clearly doesn't need the money. So I have to ask: what's his motivation? Does he just want to thumb his nose at the neighborhood and laugh all the way to the bank?

And @ the person who posted twice pretending to be two people: first, you are not fooling anyone, and you really need to get a grip on reality.... oh, and a few rudimentary English classes wouldn't hurt either, but that's another topic. Second, telling those of us who rightfully object to Mr. Pannell's ridiculous behavior that we can "leave if we don't like it"... sorry, I'm not going anywhere. I'm invested here, and as such have a definitive interest in seeing things improve in my neighborhood, not worsen. That means I am going to stand up when something is not right and I'm going to do something about it. What Mr. Pannell wants is not legal, it's not just and not defensible. So, to quote you... "Get over it".

Jonathan said...

So what should with the store? If you had a license that was worth a lot of money would you give it away?

salmonmoose said...

Of course he shouldn't give it away, no one is telling him to do that. But to capitalize on his investment in this manner is deplorable and contradicts the picture he's painted of himself as an "old timer" and "pillar of the community." I have no issue with people making a buck off their property but to paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, their right to swing their fist ends where my nose begins. He can't be allowed to take a figurative dump on this neighborhood with his surplus liquor store and then sell it and walk away. With that, all his posturing and bleating and whining evaporates like.... well, like the fizz out of a 40-ounce. If he is the "savvy businessman" he claims to be, let him employ a little out-of-box thinking and create a new niche for his store that will be a positive influence, not a negative one. THAT is what a truly good neighbor would do.

Jonathan said...

But I am asking people if they have an idea? What else can you do with an off-sale liquor license other than just letting it go and losing his money. He probably does not have money to do some big time construction renovation. I bet he is not even making 40 dollars a day on average currently ,especially if you add the monthly overhead (bills).What could be a new niche for his store that will be a positive influence on the community that can generate equal revenue as the alcohol. What can make a positive influence on the community without making his family live check to check?
Any Ideas??

salmonmoose said...

He doesn't have to "let it go and lose his money." A state liquor license is not tied to a particular property or address. He could sell that to any buyer who had a properly zoned and city-permitted location to sell alcohol. Then, as I said, he could get creative and figure out some other way to make money at his location, or he could sell it and move on.

As previously mentioned, Mr. Parnell is clearly not hurting for cash. He owns multiple properties and has a county sheriff's retirement pension. Clearly, he earned that and I don't begrudge him. But lots of folks who had their 401k's implode in the last few years would be mighty grateful for that. I'm not seeing any reason to worry he'll be out on the street any time soon because he can't sell 40-ouncers to thugs.

Jonathan said...

Why you would think he would want to sale such a prime property like that. You know he is not alone, he has a wife, kids and a grandson at college. Wouldn't you want to keep it in the family? Didn't he attempt to already sale the license but was turned down by the city? Should he build a retirement home or park with the of money he has left?

Dr. S Rockwell said...

It seems to me that the majority of you are believing in a stereotype or idea set up by media rather than the real world. Movies and television paint a bad light on small places like this because it grabs your attention and benefits personal ratings; for these reasons I can understand where your genuine concerns and fears are generated. However, what you are failing to realize is that this is not always the case in life. As is this particular one. You are baring your "facts" on fiction resulting in negative propaganda targeting and elderly man and his family. The history surrounding this store speaks for itself with no to minimal crime surrounding. Do not misunderstand me; no one person is innocent. In that statement "NO ONE PERSON is innocent"(this includes all of us and you) crime arises from the substance abusers not the substance itself, and until the product is made illegal (which it wont be) The best thing to do would be to handle the abusers. If not they will find another place to find their substance and bring it home (the neighborhood). If you want to fix the issue of alcohol take down the large companies first. Tell Safe Way, Lucky's, and BevMo to stop selling. On that note, suppose a shopping center was built in it's place and a big name grocery store aforementioned is built would there be nearly as many complaints? No. But the store sells liquor so why is this not unacceptable? What I think is happening is that the majority of these new neighbors that have moved in have done so with the intent to resale for a profit and really have NO (0.0000%) concern for the neighborhood itself. This would explain the lies concerning neighboring safety, and the fear. Others will offer their opinion as have I, but I will speak no longer on the topic. Just keep in mind that this whole discussion board/ thread is nothing more than opinion.

End Result:
1. Stop hiding your true agenda behind local shops regardless of the kind.
2. If you want to stop crime in neighborhoods then stop the ILLEGAL circumstances that define CRIME.
3. If you do not like the neighborhood, you probably should not have moved there to begin with, so move out.
4. Take the time to learn the truth of the history of where you live instead of an ideal set on by other circumstances.
5. Stop using RACE as your excuse for a loss in court and accept that you were wrong. (it only reveals YOUR OWN true hidden racism)
6. BE HAPPY! You live in a neighborhood with liquor store owners who have reportedly kept crime out of the neighborhood for 35 years.
7. Stop complaining and reexamine yourself before bashing others, and keep in mind that these owners are most likely more a part of this neighborhood than yourself.

Peace and love from a non drinker/ non smoker/ non violence etc. gentleman.

Vicky B said...

Thugs do not drink 40oz.(stereotype) That was so 1990 lol. Where you get your info from the media? Thugs rather get high and use swishers and blunt wraps rather than 40oz beer.

Anonymous said...

My neighbor has repeatedly stated that our corner was filled with prostitutes and drug dealers when she moved into the neighborhood.

I wonder if part of the reason they are gone is due to the NikNak being closed for the last 5 years?

Maybe? or more likely the neighborhood is changing for the better? Maybe the people (of all races and lifestyles) moving/buying into this neighborhood see it as a place they'd like to stay for a while, precisely because it is a great neighborhood.

Regardless of what happens at this meeting, the neighbors (old and new) not wanting negative influences easily accessible will prevail. It will only be a matter of time.

Ryan said...

prostitutes? I lived here for 17 years and I have not seen one Prostitute.Come on, Stop the he say, she say, my neighbor say lies. I seen d boys(drug dealers) in front of the wash house but never a Prostitute haha. stop lying.

salmonmoose said...

@ Vicky B
Where do I get my information? Honey, I don't watch TV. My dirt comes straight from the empty Colt 45, Schlitz and Evil Eye I am always picking up out of my bushes and front lawn after the pigs toss them out their car windows. Just cuz they have the rest of the stuff you call out doesn't mean they don't need something to wash it all down with.

Fight Blight said...

Mr. Pannell would retains his liquor license even if he loses the permit to operate at the site. The liquor license is controlled by the State of California Alcohol Beverage Control. The location and manner in which he can sell is governed largely by the local government through its land use authority. Mr. Pannell would have several options if the City denied the Major Conditional Use Permit and Variance to sell alcohol: (1)he could sell the liquor license to another party who would then have to locate an acceptable site consistent with the zoning requirements (2) Mr. Pannell could take his liquor license and relocate to another location consistent with zoning regulations and operate the convenience store at the 6400 Shattuck site; (3) He could give up his liquor license and redevelop his outdated site with a higher density, pedestrian friendly building and seek another type of tenant, possibly creating housing on the top two or three floors (in this market such a development may not be feasible). Importantly, the value is largely in the liquor license, but you need an acceptable location to put it into play. Mr. Pannell has attempted to sell his liquor license several times only to have the potential buyer back out. We suspect it is related to the lapse of his Deemed Approved Status at 6400 Shattuck for a nonconforming use and the fact that the buyers did not have an acceptable alternative location from which to sell liquor. Mr. Pannell's claims that he is a responsible business owner and that he will keep the license in the family rings hollow by his past actions to sell the license. Once he gets approval at the site, we suspect he will sell the license and the site to a new owner and walk away with the cash. The Community then ends up with a huge unknown in terms of who owns and operates the site as a liquor store. It is better not to a have liquor store there to begin with.

Fight Blight said...

Liquor stores in North Oakland and South Berkeley attract well-documented problems. Black and White Liquors in South Berkeley on Adeline has been the subject of numerous nuisance complaints and the City of Berkeley imposed very strict conditions on its continued operation. They are lucky to still be in business. The mini-mart on the corner of MLK and Ashby across from the BART Station was shut down as a public nuisance by the City of Berkeley. It returned as a mini-mart only on the condition of no alcohol sales. Stanford Liquors on the corner of Stanford and Adeline has been well-documented as a hang out for gang members. The area in front of and down the street just south of T and K Market on Shattuck Avenue across from Nic Nak is a known drug dealer hangout with the attendant loitering. Uptown Market down the street on Shattuck Avenue has been a plague to the Community for years and years--including a major, illegal, gangster rap promotion of hard liquor right out of the parking lot that required significant police response to quell the disturbance. Dorsey's Locker, while not a liquor store, has been a magnet for gang members, loitering, public drunkenness, gun play, and shootings. East Bay Liquors on the corner of MLK and 54th has had multiple shootings, and a murder, not to mention the various habitual loiterers and drug dealers. The liquor store on the corner of 59th and Telegraph has had drive-by shootings, loitering from gangsters housed at the Oakland Housing Authority complex down the street, and boom cars parked in the neighborhood. These are well-documented problems by the Oakland and Berkeley Police, the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council, the Berkeley Alcohol Policy Advisory Coalition (BAPAC), numerous homeowner and neighborhood associations as well as frustrated citizens tired of the problems these land uses cause. People of all color, all ages, all socio-economic backgrounds, newcomers as well as old-timers have participated to identify and remedy these problem liquor outlets. These are not made up and they are not fiction inspired by too much TV. They are the day to day reality of North Oakland and South Berkeley. That is why many of us are not interested in another liquor store.

We got word late today that Mr. Pannell has requested that the City of Oakland delay the vote to approve his project via a Consent Calendar item. We suspect Mr. Pannell is unwilling to live up to the conditions imposed by the City in its approval. The matter, at the request of the Mr. Pannell, has been continued to the October 7th Planning Commission Meeting.

Mike said...

"we suspect he will sell the license and the site to a new owner and walk away with the cash."
Are you serious. Like I said you need to cut it out with the Lying,, its getting on my nerves. You suspect this, you suspect that.WTF!! He said hes going to keep the license and if he closes he will never sale again cant you trust the man. You think hes out to get you or something ?

Anonymous said...

Maybe he should make it a store that sales marijuana?

Fight Blight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fight Blight said...

We have noticed on multiple posts the repeated use of the word sale or sales when the proper term is sell or sells. Those using the incorrect term might take note.

Mike if Mr. Pannell wants to put his money where his mouth is he can propose to the City of Oakland and accept a condition that he will never sell the property and it will forever remain in the hands of his heirs. This can be enforced with a condition that requires him to restrict the sale by covenant that is recorded with the County Recorder and runs with the land forever and ever. Mr. Pannell is elderly. He won't be in a position to own or operate the store forever. The Community cannot rely on his word that he will never sell the property or the license or even lease out the store with the license to a different operator. Moreover, if he transfers the property to his heirs at some future date, there is no guarantee that those heirs will be good neighbors. His claims that the property and the liquor sales will forever be properly managed because he is an upstanding ex Sheriff ring hollow. The only way to guarantee that this property and use as a liquor store do not become a nuisance is to deny the Major Conditional Use Permit and Variance. If the City is inclined to approved the Permit and Variance, then the only way to legally guarantee that when it becomes a nuisance it can be managed and controlled is to impose robust conditions on its operation. Conditions, some of which, that Mr. Pannell expressly refused to agree to at the Public Hearing. The Community cannot rely on Mr. Pannell's word. That's not how land use approvals work. His word is not legally binding. Even so, he refuses to accept reasonable conditions on the use of his property. A Conditional Use Permit is just that--a permit with conditions because it involves a land use with the potential to create problems.

As for the site's use as marijuana sales, we already have an approved cannabis buyers club just over the border at the corner of Shattuck and Essex. There is also a cannabis buyer's club on San Pablo and several more in downtown Oakland. There is also an informal buyers club on the corner of Shattuck and Alcatraz across the street near T and K market--drug dealers have set up shop. Not likely the community would support more marijuana sales.

Anonymous said...

Ok so there is no POSSIBLE way he can make equal revenue like the alcohol sales. So he has to lose money and family be broke while we all still have our jobs. We know hes old but we know his daughter who is a Deputy Probation Officer for 26 years and here son is going to take over.He has a family people But like Jonathan said does anyone have ideas????..Guess Not. See I am not a business person I don't know business neither people on this blog. Everybody on here acting is like they have entrepreneur skills. I work for someone, probably everyone on here does as well. If these people writing about him knew about going into retail business they might understand. Its hard to be your own boss. I ask the people who has a family owned business. Do you deal with people like us too?

Ryan said...

See Fight Blight, your talking about stores that have crime but THIS STORE DOES NOT HAVE ANY CRIME TO DATE. If the business is ran right which it is your not going to have that type of problems. You cant forecast crime. Why do the sub woofers of the car bother you. You don't live next door to nic nak. The lady he lives directly who lives directly next door wanted the store to open so what does this tell you? Like I said everyone who lives in the immediate are for it. (1 house down, two houses down, three houses down etc.) Dont you think they are the ones who are going to be effected the most. You don't live in the immediate area so your not effected if you live 2 to 3 blocks away its not hurting you. What are you going to say next the people who live next door to him doesn't know any better?
and why do you have to make lies to get people on your side..

GoodNeighbor said...

Sorry, Ryan, but I completely disagree and it is VERY clear that you don't live in the neighborhood.

I have cleaned the blood of Black men off the sidewalk in front of my property when there was a dispute, fueled by alcohol. I have called the police many times to report crimes that I witnessed including breaking and entering, battery, drug dealing, and prostitution. I daily remove liquor bottles from my yard, and I DO worry for the young black men in the neighborhood who are obviously without employment.

I've also spoken with many (+50) neighbors within ONE block who are furious that this family has turned their back on us. The problem is that Black folks living in the area are afraid to speak up against this family. (Why? I don't care to speculate as I don't know them.)

The Pannells only want to make money and DO NOT care about the neighborhood. If they did, they'd be willing to put restrictions on this license including things like future ownership (it should remain +50% Black, IMHO) employment FOR Black men living nearby, and restrictions on the size of liquor bottles sold and the hours liquor is available.

None of these restrictions would decrease the profitability of the location, btw.

This situation is clearly a case where the physical safety of many is being sacrificed for the financial success of one (family).

Mike said...

I guess the neighborhood would be happy if he is broke and can not provide for his family in order to make a few neighbor satisfied. This has been a long standing business with no problems to report such as loitering, disturbing the peace, battery, drug dealing, prostitution and etc
It should be noted that Mr. Pannell has received 300 plus signatures from the neighbors in the immediate area. Not from Raymond, Tremont, Whitney, Claremont,or South Berkeley. Many of the signatures reside on Shattuck and Alcatraz.

Anonymous said...

I seen a Ferrari on his lot and I think his wife drive a brand new Bentley. THE PANNELLS ONLY WANTS TO MAKE MONEY AND NOTHING ELSE... They shouldn't be making money.

GoodNeighbor said...


It is NOT a long standing business, as it has been closed for 5 years.

The average retail consumer has a 'memory' of 2 years, which means, business wise, it has been dead for 3 years. It will take a year, minimally, to build back the lost business, if the demographics of the area hadn't changed so dramatically in the last 5 years.

But, as his business stands, it will fail because he has failed to move with the times. It is basic Darwinian theory, evolve or die. The problem is that Mr. Pannell refuses to evolve.

If he were willing to bend a bit, there would be developers lining up to help him make a fortune. The location should be a mixed use property with retail on the bottom, housing on the top. Based on my knowledge of rents in the area, it would be bringing in, minimally $10K/mo in income and having equity in excess of $1.5M.

But don't feel sorry for Mr. Pannell as he is far from broke being a long time real estate owner (having multiple properties), a great pension, and an obviously educated and successful family.

As I stated before:
This situation is clearly a case where the physical safety of many is being sacrificed for the financial success of one (family).

Mike said...

How do you know if he has a Great Pension(retired in the 70's) and he makes good money Good Neighbor. Your acting like you his banker and his family has PHD's.You don't know what the mans funds are. You don't know what the hell is situation. Maybe he had to reopen so he can pay for a dying Family member hospital bill.You dont know this family personal life. you don't know why Stop playing a guessings game about whats he has, what he is going to do,and why is he doing this?

"If he were willing to bend a bit, there would be developers lining up to help him make a fortune. The location should be a mixed use property with retail on the bottom, housing on the top. Based on my knowledge of rents in the area, it would be bringing in, minimally $10K/mo in income and having equity in excess of $1.5M."

One way or another developers still need money. Where would he get the money to build something like that and if he had the money he would probably put affordable housing there for people who need a home. Instead of some high rise lavish condo where only a few can afford to live in. In addition once it was built he would probably have to deal with the same neighbors complaining; oh its too big, i don't like the windows, I don't like the colors of the wall when I pass buy and so on. They put a el pollo loco there and i like Chipotle. To many people are hanging out in the restaurant, Complaints complaints and complaints Like I said, I dont think he is a sell out if you say his family is so educated. If it was me I would want to keep it.

Consuelo said...

I was opposing this place for a while, however after reading this blog I changed my mind. I also watched the hearing on channel 10 KTOP and I know whats going on. I am bothered by the lies the opposing side is generating. At first I was on the liquor store hating band wagon. I am ok that it its there now. You keep saying it was closed for 5 years however, they have 35 years of running this business under there belt, the opposing side didn't tell me that. They also didn't tell me about the 0 violation of the license and the excellent police record. Really I am so upset with these false accusations and lies. Why you must do that just to get people on your side? I am sorry but I cant participate in the opposition side no longer.

Jonathan said...

I have some ideas.
1. Bookstore = positive except No money there. His Family would be broke in that idea. "Sorry kids I cant afford to send you to Howard University in Washington D.C. which cost 30k a year to attend but I own a bookstore and its positive for the community so you can sit here and get your university education by reading books at the store. Im sorry I make hardly ends meat selling books."
2. Restaurant with a bar = wait.. no alcohol right, gosh darnit.
3. Coffee Shop = over saturation of coffee shops people are going to complain about that too lol 40oz coffees cups.

4.Day care = come on lets be realistic. who is going to want to drop there kids off at that intersection.
5. Marijuana = People are going to complain again about the over saturation (I guess there is a over saturation of everything since it is on a very busy street)
6. fast food = people are going to complain about how its not healthy
7.Aquarium shop = Going for broke
8. Smoke shop = People complain about that bringing in the wrong element.
9.Pet shop = there is a huge pet shop up the street scratch that idea
10. BBQ shop = Oh wait its going to bring in the wrong people too right...
Nothing that will maintain his revenue basically.
I feel even if he was to put something different up you still wont go and patronize him.... why????? you tell me..

Any more Ideas? where he doesn't have to a big renovation on the property and spend a lot of money doing it?

Anonymous said...

I guess nobody has an explanation for Dr S Rockell's comment. So it must be TRUE....

Anonymous said...

Dr. S. Rockwell's comment was apparently such utter nonsense it didn't warrant a response.

So very sad to see so many people here so far off topic, not getting it, or just plain "out there." It's as if they are going out of their way to be obtuse.

You typically see "justice" embodied as a blindfolded woman with the scales in one hand and a sword in the other. The bottom line is just as FightBlight said: There is no legal justification to give this person a liquor license. It doesn't matter who he is, what he is, or what history he has. Things have changed in the five years since he was last open for business and unfortunately he didn't keep up. Now he expects a free pass? Nuh-uh. Moving on.

Anonymous said...

He is not asking for a free pass. When he first reopened in April the gave him authorization to sell liquor. He was selling it for 2 months with no problem. Then people started to complain to the city. Then the city told him that they made a mistake by giving him permission to sell. It's not his fault the city are the ones that made the mistake to begin with. So mr. Pannell stocked his store cause city said it was ok 2 months passed. Oh wait we the city of Oakland made a mistake oops. That's a big mistake to make. The city is saying it was a mistake instead people complained about the place re opening.

Anonymous said...

It's like you won a 5 million jackpot. You have it For 2 months you buy a fancy cars, and large luxurious house on the hill. Then California lottery people say oh we made an error, we need your 5 million dollars back. So what are you going to do fight for your 5 million you rightfully won or give it back? are you going to give back the house, car and the money?I wouldn't

Anonymous said...

If you were in mr Pannell shoes would you do the same thing?Be honest.

Fight Blight said...

When Mr. Pannell submitted his request to the City to open his liquor store after he was notified about the lapse in his Deemed
Approved Status, he submitted it under the name of Jo Jo's rather than Nic Nak.

Now why would he do that?

To this day, the sign at the front of the property notes Nic Nak. The only reason he did this is that he wanted the City Planning Department to think this was a totally different business, one that had not had its Deemed Approved Status revoked. Subterfuge.

I invite Mr. Pannell to clear this up and to tell the community why he submitted a permit under a different name and why he operates under the name of Nic Nak rather than Jo Jo's when he applied for a permit under Jo Jo's. Can he please come forward and tell us whether he is doing business as Nic Nak or Jo Jo's? If he is doing business as Jo Jo's has he filed a fictitious business name and is he paying local, state and federal taxes under the name of Jo Jo's? Please step forward and speak to the community.

The fact that the City made a mistake does not mean that Mr. Pannell reaps the reward. That is like saying that if the Bank mistakenly deposited a million dollars in your account you are entitled to the million dollars. If you take the million dollars and spend it you are guilty of theft. The money is not yours. Mr. Pannell is in effect stealing from the community since he misrepresented his business name.

Not only did Mr. Pannell misrepresent his project to the City, he expected to profit from it. What does that say about his intentions?

So Mr. Pannell, do you wish to step and tell the Community what your are your intentions?

Mike said...

The city of Oakland knew what it was previously according to the hearing.Its on file. The previous planner knew the original name and why he changed it. A person cant change the name of his business without others thinking he is up to something.
Why wont you go to nic nak park on the lot and talk to him. He will be happy to talk to and explain why he simply wanted to change the name to his grandsons nick name "jojo's" .
You invite him to talk to the community??? Why wont the community come to him, instead of being scared to approach the man.

Ryan said...

Good Neighbor you said.
"The problem is that Black folks living in the area are afraid to speak up against this family." You cant be serious. Wait I remember,he is drug lord kingpin right? No no no, his family is in the black mafia and everyone who talks bad about him he takes them out? No wait, maybe he just pumps fear into every black person hearts in the everywhere. Or maybe Black folks know bullshit when they see it.Your acting like he is Frank Lucas. They know its been there for a long time they go to the store to buy items from him, they patronize him.

To the person who said that they own a Bentley and Ferrari do us a favor and throw your computer out the window. You are an idiot. He shouldn't make money? Sad how far people are willing to go to make the family look bad. Whats next they own a private G4 jet and they have a private island in the Caribbean, and if he did so what!
You think he is evil cause he is making money. Stop hating on the damn family and be about yours. Anyone stopping you from making your money to feed your family, and if they did would you just run away or fight? What now, your going to be satisfied when his family moves into a cardboard box and all ride bicycles. Maybe he should turn in whatever he has and buy a ugly Toyota Prius, that a positive investment right. Will you then shut up about his lifestyle, YOU DONT KNOW THE MAN PERSONALLY, so shut up about his bank account, pension, how many cars and property he owns. Mr. Pannell is not worried about your personal lifestyle so stop worrying about his!

Since we all want to pretend we are business professionals or work for the city planning department
Like the anonymous person said

"If you were in Mr.Pannell shoes would you do the same thing?Be honest."
What would you do if it was you?

Fight Blight said...

Mike when referring to the fact that Mr. Pannell applied for a permit under the name of Jo Jo's rather than Nic Nak we are talking about this past Spring when the City erroneously issued him an over the counter permit. The Planner at that time was mislead. It was only after residents brought this error to the attention of the City did they realize Jo Jo's was Nic Nak. You are right that a business owner has every right to change their business name. We are just wondering why Mr. Pannell changed the business name for purposes of his initial pplication, then never changed his sign or provided any other indicators that he is now operating as Jo Jo's.

Normally, it is an applicant with a development or land use proposal that does outreach to the community not the other way around. The applicant, such as Mr. Pannell, is asking for permission to do something that could affect the community. It becomes his obligation, and frankly it is in his own best interest, to reach out to the community. We invite him to do so.

Ryan, please do not personalize your comments by calling people idiots. If you disagree with their position then argue against their position, but do not call them names or your posts will be summarily deleted. That goes for anyone else. We are not trying to suppress opposition, we are just asking you to be civil and dignified. If you believe someone is misrepresenting the facts, please by all means correct the record and support your position, but do not personalize this disagreement.

According to the Oakland land use law governing Major Variances, Mr. Pannell's financial status and/or economic hardship resulting from the denial of a Major Variance is irrelevant. Please stop posting about Mr. Pannell and his financial situation. Unless you are his accountant, you have little factual basis to support your claims as to the financial effect on Mr. Pannell.

Again, rather than having your suppporter post a lot of irrelevant information that is intended to cloud the issue at hand, Mr. Pannell we invite you to set the record straight and post on We Fight Blight. Thank you.

Claudia said...

I am pretty sure Mr. Pannell is not wasting his time reading this BS that is being said about his store!!.... If any of you really want to know why he did some things the way he did THEN GO ASK HIM!!! I know everyone on here that has being talking about his store knows where it’s at… If not, just look for the “Ferrari and the new Bentley” in the parking lot!...

Daniel said...

I just clicked on the link from the sfgate website. I live in East Oakland where its a lot worse. After reading the introduction and comments posted by others. Someone said that we was in business for 35 years without one incident. Compared to other parts of Oakland you guys in the North have it easy. I know I know, he has closed for 5 years, so are you going to forget about the 35? seems like you are forgetting that fact. Seems like everyone who are opposed to this store has selective hearing and reading. I live in East Oakland, however if I knew I had a guy like this in my neighborhood. I would not be mad. Someone also said he was selling alcohol in the beginning for 2 months. During those 2 months of him selling liquor did you see a spike in crime. No but, you forecast that its going to happen. It also seem like Black people respects him and respects his business does anybody realize that?. If they respect his business which they do, people are not going to hang out there. Trust me on that From my understanding this place not a New business, just a change in name, however same owners and same building. 35 years not including the 5 years he was closed. I think that's pretty damn good. I think other liquor stores in the entire county should look at the way he does business. You can get all technical with the planning terms and use technical words about the matter however . We need to emphasize on this point, 35 years with no violation or problem with police, I trust that fact alone.Doesn't that mean something? Instead of bashing him at least thank Mr. Pannell for having a Excellent business without problems and hopes he keeps up the good work in the future

Anonymous said...

If Mr. Pannell were in good health, I'd support this. But he himself told me he is so sick that the hospital refuses to perform necessary surgery.

No disrespect to the family, but I do not want a young kid with no experience, or respect, running the liquor store.

Mike said...

Here we go with the lies again. I know Mr. Pannell personally and he is NOT TERMINALLY ILL and if something were to happen, his daughter who is a Alameda County Deputy Probation Officer for 26 years will. I know his grandson he is a very nice, well mannered, young man (not a kid) with a smile always on his face when you see him. This kid you say, is the son of Mr. Pannell's daughter(Peace Officer). He wont be running the store because he is pursuing his own career. The young man, told me how we wasnt able to accept his internship at Yahoo inc. because of this store situation . for the family. Maybe you think he has no respect because you approach him with some BS. If you know this young man then you know how respectful he is. If you had a name instead of being anonymous I can tell if your worth receiving respect or not.

I ask again, please stop with the lies.

Mike said...

I forgot to ask, How do you know if he is inexperienced or not. Do you have his resume on file. Do you know his age, education, lifestyle and what he likes to do in his spare time?You apparently don't have the slightest idea therefore I don't think you know if he is experienced or not.
Whats the requirements for him that will make him experienced. Doctorate Degree, Navy Seal Training, and Chief of the Oakland Police.

Fight Blight said...


As noted in the blog, Mr. Pannell has owned the property for forty years and has at times operated a convenience and liquor store. If you read the blog and the Planning Staff report carefully you would picked that up. No one is trying to mislead you--just read the information. It is all there.

The statement that Mr. Pannell has operated the liquor store for 35 to 40 years without incident is not correct.

According to the City of Oakland "Neighbors advise that this operation prior to 2004 had a reputation for attracting loitering and other concerns. However, recent police statistics and reports have not singled out Jo Jo's (former Nic Nak) as a high crime generator. As a former Alameda County Deputy Sheriff, the owner has attempted to control on-site crime with a security fence, protective glass wall inside the store, security cameras, and other methods. Despite these precautions, neighbors have complained about crime concerns; this owner has owned the property for several decades. However, for much of the past five years, the market has been closed, and only reopened with limited hours since December 2008. Liquor sales stopped in April 2009, though a Convenience Market continued. There may not have been sufficient operational time for safety issues to become manifest in statistics with the most recent activity. The applicant's site does not appear to contribute to alcohol, robbery or narcotics cases at a level much higher than Rockridge or Montclair shopping districts. However, neighbors of 6400 Shattuck Avenue give anecdotal evidence of past loitering and drinking near the site."

The City is saying two things: (1) the property does not have a recently demonstrated crime problem any worse than Rockridge or Claremont; and (2) according to neighbors, there is a history of loitering and drinking and during the past five years when the liquor store was closed and/or liquor was only being sold for approximately 2 months there was not enough time for problems to show up in the crime statistics.

Both statements have merit.

If neighbors are reporting problems, and who better to understand whether there are problems, there were likely significant enough problems that were affecting their quality of life. Our experience is that most people are reluctant to get involved in community improvement issues unless there is something that really bothers them.

The Oakland Planning Department only evaluated recent crime statistics. They did not go back 35-40 years. We would not be surprised if police response records only go back 4-5 years which is the time period Nic Nak has been out of business.

Activities such as public drunkenness, loitering, drug dealing, graffiti, and littering are often under-reported to the police by the community--they are nuisances that may be ignored because many neighbors do not want to get involved or think the police won't respond. Even if a concerned neighbor reports these nuisance activities, they are likely to go without a police response. In Oakland, due to the shortage of police and some of the highest violent crime rates in the country, police priorities have historically not included nuisance activities. Even if a patrol car is sent out to investigate, there is not likely to be any write-up of the incident. Furthermore, the store owner has a strong disincentive not to call the police when there are nuisance problems at their store for fear their liquor store will be tagged as a nuisance property. It is a common tactic by liquor stores not to call the police unless they are being robbed or there is a serious violent incident. Realistically, it is neighbors that are most likely to witness and report the nuisance activity from a liquor store. In this case, the City Planning Staff report that neighbors have provided them those reports.

Just because nuisance activities go under-reported by the neighborhood or under-investigated by the police, doesn't mean they don't occur and don't affect the quality of life of residents.

Anonymous said...

"Furthermore, the store owner has a strong disincentive not to call the police when there are nuisance problems at their store for fear their liquor store will be tagged as a nuisance property."

You don't have any evidence of that so its just speculation. Still lies no evidence. HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? What is your proof? or is it just he say, she say, they say?

"It is a common tactic by liquor stores not to call the police unless they are being robbed or there is a serious violent incident. "

Again, speculation. How do you know this liquor store does this.The answer is you don't know. Neighbors say they seen loitering, drug dealers prostitution however they never seen any cops at the store. If neighbors are so involved in the community why the never seen one police officer there. How you are going to see all that stuff and see not one cop. I see BPD and OPD go up and down Shattuck and Alcatraz all the time and your trying to tell me they have not stopped once for any of those things you say. I thought the neighbors were looking at this place like if the had surveillance cameras pointed at your place

For the most part people who live more than one block away, the only time you see this place is when you are, walking, riding and driving by. Thats it. Its not like you open the door to your house and its across the street or right next door. I forgot, didn't that lady from the hearing who lived next door for her entire life was fine with it being open and she likes the store being there. Replay the tape. I think out of everybody, she would be the one affected the most. Dont you think
? I think people who are in a 300 radius would be affected the most out instead of someone who lives on 65th, 66th and all those little side streets. If you drive by while the light is green and driving 25 mph your going to see the store for now more than 5 seconds. If the light is red, get a timer out and tell us how much
you spend near the store daily actually seeing stuff or maybe all of you opposing neighbors just have real-time spying satellites looking down at the store 24/7.

"As a former Alameda County Deputy Sheriff, the owner has attempted to control on-site crime with a security fence, protective glass wall inside the store, security cameras, and other methods."

You forgot to add, therefore his methods to control crime works.

"Realistically, it is neighbors that are most likely to witness and report the nuisance activity from a liquor store."

Honestly, would you believe everything a neighbor says. Ok neighbors report a nuisance they witness. Ok where are the police reports for this store? Not other stores, this store! Not one ?

"In this case, the City Planning Staff report that neighbors have provided them those reports."

Again any neighbors can lie about what they seen and make up a story so they can just get their way with the store. There is no evidence of crime people say. You cant believe and trust everyone. If I was to trust everyone including my neighbors I would be out of money, cheated, stolen from everything else. I can write 1000 different letters talking about what I saw there and how there is so much crime and how much of a nuisance it is however are my letters true? or did I just write them so city can change there mind so I can have my way. Anyone can write an email to the city. I'm just simply asking people not to be so naive.

Why cant you go and get a list report for crime in the past three to four decades?

If he is doing a good job the police are not going to be worried about him causing problems.


If neighbors were to tell you your blue colored house had loitering and prostitution on the property while you where inside your house, and personally knew for a fact that no one has ever done that in front of your house? But neighbors say, well statistics show that blue houses attract prostitution and loitering.
Would you believe them? HELL NO

Would you buy that mess?

Don't be naive

Concerned Neighbor said...

So everyone is a liar but Mr. Pannell and his supporters. Everything those who do not want a liquor store say is a lie. Don't believe your neighbors because they are liars. Clearly you do not live in this neighborhood and do not know my neighbors who are honest and have been working hard to improve this community. Why can't you accept that many people find liquor stores problematic. If you cannot argue your case, you just call everyone a liar. Nice tactic. I see that We Fight Blight has been attempting to engage you and others in a honest dialogue, only to be peppered with irrelevant diatribes in which you paint everyone as liars. Perhaps you should come to North Oakland, attend a community event, and get to know all the people you accuse of being liars. Why on earth would so many neighbors spend so much time out of their busy lives to fight the approval of another liquor store if they did not have first hand knowledge of the problems that liquor stores pose. You provide a point by point rebuttal that failed to even comprehend We Fight Blights last response. Perhaps you should go back and re-read it very carefully. I did and I cannot understand your rambling response.

Claudia said...

It is to my understanding that many people find liquor stores to be problematic, but if you attended the hearing and listened, you would know that NEVER happened at Mr. Pannell’s store. The Commissioners said this is a special case that’s why it was a 4-1 vote… Why can’t any of you see what the Commissioners saw?… They said if this was any other situation it would have been denied!...This particular store is not problematic and that is a fact! Mr. Pannell ran his store for 35 years+ with NO PROBLEMS and they saw that was true… Instead of trying to bring Mr. Pannell down why don’t you go after the liquor stores that don’t know how to control what happens on and around their property? Complain about the stores that do have the drug dealers and the thugs hanging out outside… I live in East Oakland where we do have liquor stores on just about every corner and gangsters just hanging out outside and shooting happening just about every week but just like Daniel from East Oakland said I would love to have stores like this in my neighborhood!... Most of the time I don’t even like going into a liquor store where there are people just hanging out because all they do is bother you trying to get your number and just harass you… I have never seen anything like this happen at Nic Nak. You can’t just assume that because crime happened at most liquor stores it’s going to happen at Nic Nak. Nic Nak was selling liquor when it firsts open and there were NEVER any thugs or drug dealers just hanging outside… So everyone really needs to stop saying that most liquor stores brings this and that because Nic Nak isn’t like most liquor stores!

Anonymous said...


The problem is that the Nik Nak's case was an emotional appeal, not a legal or relevant reason for a liquor license. If there weren't 5 other locations to purchase liquor, including 30 feet away from the Nik Nak, there might be a case for a 'need'. But, the truth is that the neighborhood is already saturated with liquor outlets and that adding a new one will only serve to damage the existing businesses.

And as far as your comment about never having any issues, I can tell you that is not true. Talk to anyone within a one block radius and they will tell you the neighborhood *was rampant with crime. Whether that crime was occurring on the Nik Nak's property, is irrelevant because Mr. Pannell can't control what people do when they leave his property.

It is a fact that alcohol sales do not contribute to a positive neighborhood environment. If it did, all those richie-rich people in Elmwood would want one on their corner.

So my question to you is what *positive results would you expect from having this liquor license granted? Maybe I'm not seeing clearly. Explain to me why I, as a neighbor living across the street from Nik Nak should be desperately desiring for Mr. Pannell to get his license.

Concerned Neighbor said...


I am a little confused. You say you live in East Oakland and would like to have a store like Nic Nak with an owner like Mr. Pannell in East Oakland. Then on the other hand you say you have never seen anything like this at Nic Nak, which is located in North Oakland. You also imply that you attended the public hearing. If you live in East Oakland, how on earth do you have enough day to day experience observing the Nic Nak liquors, particularly since it has been closed for the better part of 5 years? Do you work in North Oakland nearby of stay with family here? Just asking because your post seems to raise some questions. How can you speak for neighbors or have more knowledge of the local situation than neighbors who have lived in the neighborhood for ten or more years and have witnessed the problems on a day to day basis?

Fight Blight said...

We appreciate everyone's interest and comments. The comments are getting too long. Please move any new comments to the new post:

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Well from what I can tell there is a lot of confusion with this process. Let'us not forget that protest is the American way. Those of you whom dislike the activities of Merchants who sell Alcohol and have nasty, dirty, stores and parking lots with beer bottles, cans, litter and a few gang members, try this. Contact the police departments notify them of the nusance or better yet why don't you design some of your we fight blight signs and fight the blight head on, up close and personal. No, wait you all are just to afraid to protest at the problem source. For you all that commented that this location was vacant for 4 years or more and was part of the city blight; maybe you should have contacted the property owner to see whether or not they wanted to sell their location so you could put your coffee shop, bike shop or book store....oh but you did not. If this location was such an eyesore why didn't anyone with the blight crew contact the city and again the property owner. The pursuit of happiness, ring a bell anyone. How can local residents stoop so low as to accuse their elected/selected/volunteering officials of not having common sense. It is very clear that the opposition were out of town, affraid or blogging because from what I''ve seen you didn't show up in numbers. Three speakers one outside activist and two strangers to the community. The talk of strategy and intent. Do you really think the store owner sat down and had a strategy meeting to determine how he is now going to survive or did he just knew he had do.