Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nic Nak Liquors--A Community in Disagreement

Our recent blog about Mr. Pannell's efforts to get a Major Conditional Use Permit and Major Variance to sell liquor at 6400 Shattuck seems to have generated quite a few of comments. More than any other We Fight Blight Blog, this post, like Mr. Pannell's proposal, has garnered quite a bite of controversy. There are now 50 comments on the original post.

Mr. Pannell, for unknown reasons, requested the City continue his item until October 7, 2009. As you may recall, the City had placed this matter on the Planning Commission's Consent Calendar. However, the Planning Department has now advised us that based on several requests from the Community, the matter will no longer be placed on the Consent Calendar, but will require a full public hearing. This will allow the public to weigh in on the proposed conditions and findings of approval, both of which are inadequate. Several theories have been advanced as to why Mr. Pannell requested a continuance including the following: (1) Mr. Pannell is unwilling to accept some of the City's conditions for approval and is trying to lobby Planning Commissioners through ex-parte discussion to remove several of the conditions; and/or (2) Mr. Pannell is feeling the heat and wants to get some space between the media attention and his Planning Commission vote. There are two new Commissioners who have not indicated where they stand on this matter and their vote will be crucial as to whether Mr. Pannell is allowed to peddle liquor in North Oakland. What we do know is that Mr. Pannell has already begun to implement several of the conditions that are under consideration for his permit, including modifying the Nic Nak pole sign and installing security lighting. Whether these are being done with the approval of the City and appropriate building and demolition permits is unclear.

Between now and the next Planning Commission Meeting on October 7, We Fight Blight will be posting several follow-up articles that explore the over-saturation of problem liquor stores in North Oakland and deconstructs the unorthodox and highly unusual findings that "historical relevance equates to a unique or extraordinary physical condition" necessitating a Major Variance.

We do have to note that when rereading the comments to date, there seems to be consistent and repeated approach by those who support Mr. Pannell in his effort to sell liquor. These comments appear to be written by the same person or by the same small group of people posting as different members of the community. One of the ideas presented by these posters is that the author of this blog and those that support the denial of Mr. Pannell's liquor license are liars. That we are purposefully and collectively propagating lies about Mr. Pannell and his business--apparently, if you cannot provide a rational argument for your case, then smear the opposition as liars. While We Fight Blight does not support this liquor store because of the inextricable link in North Oakland between liquor stores, blight and crime, we have endeavored to report what is factually correct, what has been stated by Mr. Pannell and his supporters, and to make it clear where we are lending our opinion or our inferences.

Rather than foisting the term liar upon those who argue against Mr. Pannell's ability to peddle liquor, we would appreciate a more civilized dialogue that avoids personalizing this disagreement. We felt it was inappropriate for Mr. Pannell, at the public hearing, to suggest and state that those who opposed his permit were rascist, gentrifiers, and newcomers who were opposed to black-owned businesses. That is simply not true. Those opposed to Mr. Pannell's request to sell liquor are concerned about the over-saturation of liquor stores in North Oakland and South Berkeley, and the fact that, on the whole, liquor stores have been magnets for crime, litter, graffiti, loitering and drug dealing. This linkage has been abundantly and consistently documented in North Oakland and South Berkeley by the Oakland and Berkeley Police, the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council, neighborhood associations, the Berkeley Alcohol Policy Action Network and by those neighbors who suffer daily the consequences of liquor stores. Those opposing the liquor store do not oppose Mr. Pannell. They simply don't want another liquor store because of the quality of life issues associated with liquor stores. It has nothing to do with Mr. Pannell as a person and everything to do with the problems that liquor stores attract.

We had hoped Mr. Pannell and his supporters would argue the merits of his case based on the requirements of Oakland land use regulations and law. The laws apply to all equally. Unfortunately, he and his entourage chose to make this personal by framing this disagreement over a proposed land use in ways that are irrelevant to the legal question at hand which is whether his proposed use of 6400 Shattuck meet the findings and requirements of a Major Conditional Use Permit and Major Variance. Neither Mr. Pannell nor any of his supporters have provided any evidence whatsoever to support that his lot suffers from a unique or extraordinary physical or topographic constraint that merits an exception to existing land use requirements. Hence the City's legal gymnastics to create some justification to approve this use as the City Planning Commission directed. In all of the posts, his supporters continue to use irrelevant and extraneous arguments that frankly have no merit when it comes to judging the validity of his application or they attack the posters and this author as being liars.

Please argue the merits of the case, do not smear each other or personalize this issue. At the end of the day, we all will continue to live in North Oakland--at least most of us.

One of the issues brought up consistently is that somehow the denial of the Major Conditional Use Permit and Major Variance is going to be an economic hardship on Mr. Pannell. The fact is that unless Mr. Pannell has opened his personal and business accounting books to anyone, no one knows the financial repercussions a denial of liquor sales will have on Mr. Pannell. To our knowledge, Mr. Pannell has not provided a business plan or business pro-forma that shows he cannot operate a convenience store without liquor sales profitably. We do not know if Mr. Pannell has the capital to develop the site for another use acceptable to the community. What we do know is that Mr. Pannell owns a home in Clear Lake and a residence in Trestle Glen neighborhood of Oakland. We know that he owns the property at 6400 Shattuck and owns a liquor license. We know that he is a retired Alameda County Sheriff and it is likely that he has a pension from the County. We also know that he owns a recreational vehicle that is parked in front of Nic Nak. We also know that he claims his family once controlled 30% of all black-owned businesses in North Oakland. We have no idea what his current liabilities are and what his balance sheet shows. Frankly, the discussion about his financial situation is totally irrelevant.

According to the City of Oakland, 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.

Note: Economic hardship is not a criteria for approval or denial. It is irrelevant to the decision at hand. So all of the conjecture about his financial situation is irrelevant. Moreover, it is irrelevant as to whether Mr. Pannell can make some other viable use of his property. It is not the Community's responsibility to plan his site and ensure that he makes a profit. A financial investment does not guarantee a profit. Mr. Pannell has a fundamental responsibility to show why his project meets the requirements for a Major Condition Use Permit and Variance for liquor sales. We believe that he and his supporters have not met this burden. They have talked and talked about everything under the sun to create a distraction from the fundamental legal question. That is a good strategy when you have no legal foundation for your proposed land use. But it is not a basis to approve the project as the Planning Commission suggests. Their flawed reasoning will only invite legal scrutiny.

Speaking about distractions, Dr. Rockwell has posted that we are baring the facts based on fiction and that we are making judgements based on stereotypes and too much TV. Perhaps Mr. Rockwell is interested in speaking directly with the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council or the Berkeley Alcohol Policy Action Network or the Berkeley and Oakland Police as to the effect liquor stores have on public health and blight and crime. This is not TV or fiction. This is the reality of North Oakland and liquor stores.

Both the City of Oakland and the City of Berkeley have taken rather drastic action to declare some liquor stores a public nuisance and shut them down. We agree that not all liquor stores are nuisances. However, we are not interested in additional liquor stores in our Community because North Oakland and South Berkeley already have an abundance of liquor stores selling hard liquor and a good number of these are problem outlets. The cost of liquor stores goes well beyond the immediate impact to the nearest neighbors. The whole community suffers. There is a cost to taxpayers in increased police (if you can get it in Oakland) and emergency medical responses for alcohol related crimes and the devastating effects of alcoholism on families. Who should know this more than Mr. Pannell? We find it surprising that a former Alameda County Sheriff and a self-proclaimed pillar of the African-American community would not know or at least not seem to understand or care about the concerns neighborhs have about the nuisance activities caused by liquor stores and the public health damage to the African-American Community in Oakland caused, in part, by abundantly available liquor. Clearly, this is a situation where an individual is expecting that the economic return on his investment is more important than any cost he imposes on the Community.

So Mr. Pannell, who pays the cost and who reaps the profit?

We invite you, Mr. Pannell, to submit a guest post on We Fight Blight. We want to hear your story. We will give you an unedited platform to address our readers and the community. Just send your post to and we will post it for you.


Living in the Hood said...

Thank you We Fight Blight for providing information and commentary on this proposal for a liquor store. My partner and I have lived in North Oakland since the mid 1990's. We consider ourselves to be relatively aware of what is going on in our "hood". While we have lived here for almost 15 years we have never set foot into the Nick Nac store. We have never heard of Mr. Pannell. In fact, we always thought the site was simply used as a parking lot for RVs and other vehicles. We would never be enticed into his store since it appears so drab and fortified. Much has been said about the need to maintain the corner convenience store in Oakland because it provides food security for the disadvantaged. Howeve, while living in North Oakland we have come to realize that most covenience/liquors stores prey on the poor, disabled, elderly and those without transportation. Go into just about any covenience/liquor store and you can see that the focus and the money are in sales of alcohol, lotto tickets and cigarettes. The food they sell not only is overpriced compared to Berkeley Bowl, but tends to be primarily overprocessed junk food. It is often argued that we need to let these convenience stores sell alcohol in order to survive and provide food security for some Oakland residents. While that argument could have merit in some locations, this argument is baloney in North Oakland. There is an abundance of public transportation along MLK/Adeline, San Pablo, Shattuck, Telegraph, Claremont, Ashby, and Alcatraz. Not to mention multiple BART stations. We are blessed with an abundance of nearby grocery stores (some affordable others not so affordable)--Berkeley Bowl, Safeway, Whole Foods, Andronico's, Market Hall and Trader Joe's as well as farmer's markets in downtown Berkeley, South Berkeley, and Temescal. There are also multiple convenience stores in North Oakland that exist quite profitably without selling alcohol. In this case, there is a convenience store across the street from Nic Nak. We continue to wonder why there is such an effort to site another liquor store with a convenience component given all the existing food sources. The only thing we can think of is that Mr. Pannell's liquor license is not as valuable unless there is a city approved location to sell liquor. The liquor license coupled with the land use entitlement are far more valuable as a package than a liquor license with no approved location and the property with just a covenience store. We don't begrude Mr. Pannell's efforts to maximize the value of his property and liquor license as that is the good old American Way. We just wonder though who is going to shop at this store and whether his intention is really to maximize the value with the land use entitlements and then sell. Maybe Mr. Pannell or one of his supporters can clarify this for the North Oakland community? Thank you.

claudia said...

To the “ANONYMOUS” writer,
Well as far as I can remember at the hearing many neighbors went up to speak and said they lived next door, two houses down, directly in front of the store, one or two blocks away for many years even back when it was open and NEVER I repeat NEVER had any problems… Not once did I hear someone that was opposing the store say that wasn’t true.. So why now on this blog all of the sudden people are saying that’s a lie??... Why didn’t anyone stand up at the hearing and address that?? I know crime happens around any neighborhood but don’t blame that crime on Mr. Pannell store… Did you ever think that crime that happened two blocks away is because of the drug dealers not the liquor stores. Maybe you just aren’t seeing this store as a positive thing to the community but many other people do… The 300+ signatures that were in favor not count for anything? Do all the supporters they had at the hearing not count?... This store is something positive to a lot of people in your community you just don’t want to realize that. They have affordable prices, it’s a safe environment, they provide work for college students. Maybe you don’t have to worry about the affordable prices or don’t care that a college student has a job to pay for his books and tuition but with this economy I’m sure many people in your neighborhood do care and are grateful for that!

To the “Concerned Neighbor”
Yes, I stay with family in that area half of the time… They have lived there for many years back when Nic Nak was open. I’m going by the facts that were said at the hearing from people that had been living there for 20-35+ years…

Fight Blight said...


Much has been stated about the 300 plus signatures that Mr. Pannell allegedly obtained in support of his liquor store. We are not aware that anyone, including the City of Oakland, has verified the authenticity of the signatures as being valid and that they are actually 300 people from the neighborhood or even North Oakland who would be most affected by his proposal to operate a liquor store within 1000 feet of an existing liquor store.

We did note that at the public hearing, Mr. Pannell brought a large entourage that does not live in North Oakland, although some of his contigent does. Nevertheless, the approval of a Major Conditional Use Permit and a Major Variance is not a beauty contest based on the number of signatures one obtains from the community. Land use law, which applies to all regardless of race, color, creed, national origin or any other protected class, requires Mr. Pannell to meet certain legal findings and requirements before he is granted a Major Conditional Use Permit and Major Variance.

There is nothing in the administrative record that supports the position that Mr. Pannell's lot has a unique or extraordinary physical or topgraphic constraint that makes the strict application of the general plan and zoning requirements burdensome. For the first time in its history, the City of Oakland proposes to approve this application for a Major Variance on the basis that historical relevance constitutes a unique or extraordinary physical constraint and, therefore, warrants approval of a Major Variance. This is unchartered legal territory that is not supported by the administrative record, has no basis in existing City land use law and regulation, and has never been validated by the Courts. In other words, the City of Oakland is making a new precedent and essentially creating new law through an overly broad misinterpretation and misapplication of the administrative record and the existing land use regulations governing Major Variances.

Claudia, perhaps you could discuss why you believe Mr. Pannell's proposal to peddle liquor in North Oakland is consistent with the law and policies of the City of Oakland?

Michael said...

Living in the Hood,

"While we have lived here for almost 15 years we have never set foot into the Nick Nac store."

Ok, no one is forcing you and your partner to go there. Thats what competition is all about, apparently you rather pay 5 dollars to get laundry detergent somewhere else than step foot inside his store and buy it for 2 dollars.

Parking lot for RV's?
You seen more than one RV on his lot now? Why are people so bothered by his RV. Its his property and vehicle why do you care?At the hearing they said it is used as a office and is fully functional.So again, Why do you care?
Like that person said he had a ferrari and bentley, Tell Mr. Pannell to put his new Bentley there in place of the RV. Would you feel better then?
If extra space was on my property I would put a RV vehicle as well.

"Howeve, while living in North Oakland we have come to realize that most convenience/liquors stores prey on the poor, disabled, elderly and those without transportation. Go into just about any covenience/liquor store and you can see that the focus and the money are in sales of alcohol, lotto tickets and cigarettes."

So if I go inside of the store I have to be poor, disabled, elderly and without transportation?

What do grocery stores prey on the HUNGRY?

Doe this store preys on the poor, disabled and elderly?
Again, how do you know if this stores does such things. Another Assumption. YOU NEVER BEEN INSIDE
One thing that is different about this store in comparison to other stores is, it has a ice cream parlor in the front area, fruits and some vegetables why go to Berkeley bowl to get potatoes for dinner? If you know they have what you want at better prices why go all the way to Safeway for it. the keyword is "convenience".Plus, You never been inside.

"The food they sell not only is overpriced compared to Berkeley Bowl, but tends to be primarily over processed junk food. It is often argued that we need to let these convenience stores sell alcohol in order to survive and provide food security for some Oakland residents."

If you never been there how do you know what they have. (Another speculation)
Have you ever been inside the store to know food is overpriced? The answer is NO. Again assuming because most liquor stores are over priced this one is too, right?

Michael said...


"It is often argued that we need to let these convenience stores sell alcohol in order to survive and provide food security for some Oakland residents. "

You cant make money off grocery sales alone. You have Overhead (bills) pay employees etc. Think about it, if they are selling a can of 7up for 80cents how much do you think they will make per soda can 15-20cents. When you have groceries especially affordable groceries, the profit margin is minimal.
The reason why safeway and other large stores like this can have a cheap products because they buy in bulk(100 cases +) So the more cases you buy the cheaper it would be. Manufactures rather pay for the shipping or deliver cost for one large shipment than sending out one case per month.(operations management). If he is making around an average of 40 dollars a day, that is a lot considering only groceries and ice cream sales. and the store is open 5 DAYS A WEEK, Average 40 dollars net per day (not gross ) that is averaging 200 dollars a week. Four weeks in a month = 800 dollars average per month. Then, the contraints or overhead are not even calculated yet. Electric Bill which he has commercial refrigerator systems that have to stay on thru out the night 24/7.
Lets say = $375 a for gas and electric bill
Phone bill = $25
Ok, thats = 400$ already
Now you have to pay your employees, which I know he had only one.
I dont know, lets say he pays him 150 a week.

That means after all the monthly deductions(-$500) he is only making 250 per month wow!!!! that's a lot of money there.

Any one who studied business finance can account to that. Nic Nak would not make money enough money with just groceries. But your case you are the consumers where consumer are ill advised about how much things really cost.

GoodNeighbor said...


Your post just answered why so many of us are against this - his business is not economically viable, so the only reason for this pursuit of a license is to sell it.

If he sells it, the safety of the neighborhood is in jeopardy and all the positive things he offers (Black ownership and employment for young Black men, for instance) will disappear.

Mike said...

He said in the hearing that he wouldn't sell and if he was to sell he wouldn't have no more alcohol sales remember? Plus the property will remain with the family

Anonymous said...

I don't care what he said at the previous hearing. You said it yourself: there's no point in keeping the store unless he's got the liquor license and the location to go with it.

All your other BS is also totally irrelevant. If you start going off like this at the public hearing, you will be told to sit down and STFU if you have nothing to contribute that is pertinent to the issue at hand. Say it with me now, I know it's hard to grasp:



If y'all love liquor stores so much, find him someplace to move to, in YOUR neighborhood. We're all full up here.

Jennifer said...

I am now borderline against it and for it.Jonathan asked any ideas for what he can do with the store.
Are there any ?Another thing I am asking myself is If I was in Mr. Pannell shoes would do the same thing ?
No one has said anything about that.

I have came to conclusion that if it was me I would Fight. I think we are all acting like we would not defend our selves if it was us getting attacked by neighbors. Lately, I went in on a Thursday, and I can honestly say It wasn't all that bad. He greeted me with a smile and asked how can he help me. I must say his store is very clean. I can now understand why now people rather go to Nic Nak than T&K's now. One thing I see at the store that is really wanting me to change my mind is he has no alcohol signs in the front.I dont like all the signs in the front of stores. Lately, I see that he put up some nice plants in the front and a juniper trees on the side which I think is very cool.There is even a money tree inside(I like money because of how they twist and they are for good luck). Many other stores have advertisement in the front window however this store doesn't. If it wasn't for that one liquor store sign above the building I wouldn't even know they sell alcohol. I think we the opposed is taking this out of hand. My neighbor next door was telling me about how bad it was, and how there is litter everywhere however when I went on his lot I did not see anything. I suggest some people should go and take a look for yourself, It might change you mind. I decided to investigated my self to see what was really going on.The store hours aren't that bad and he is only open 5 days a week. From my Alcohol knowledge sale liquor until 2am of he want to how ever he opens and closes at 10 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Friday and Saturdays(you know the im off work and school lets party days lol) are from 10 to 12 midnight, that is not bad. My Neighbor told me different telling me they close at 2am. I looked at his alcohol and he doesnt have much on the shelf in comparison to uptown, alcatel and definitely white horse

The anonymous write was saying how its the law and its illegal however I don't think he is doing something illegal. City told him to stop selling so he stop selling. In addition the store has been here for a long time. My neighbor said it was a new store but its not. I admit, I drink with friends from time to time and there is nothing wrong with that I think TK's and Nic Nak should be seen as to different types of licensees. One day I wanted to get some Jack Daniels Whiskey so i went to T&K's thinking they sell liquor. T&K only sell beer and wine and that's it. I didn't know that. My neighbor told me they sold Stuff like Whiskey. I know its not some high classy place but, I feel where they are coming from. I think we should meet him half way on this.

Its really not that bad of a store you should go check it out.

Concerned Neighbor said...


We understand the instinct to fight. But when what you are fighting for is potentially so destructive to the community, you have to question why you are fighting for it. As We Fight Blight asked, who profits and who pays the cost? In this case, Mr. Pannell profits at the expense of the community. All of the neighbors I know support Mr. Pannell's right to operate a convenience store. None of them support his proposal to operate a liquor store. Whether his store is clean and well run is not relevant to the primary legal issue. We all have preferences as to where we shop and why. I, however, do not support another liquor store since there are already so many in our community, both in Oakland and Berkeley. By the way, just for context, how close to Nic Nak do you live and how long have you lived in the neighborhood? I don't recognize your name. Thanks.

Fight Blight said...


We understand that using an RV as an office in the parking lot of a retail/commercial outlet is not legal under City regulations. Hence, the City has proposed a condition requiring Mr. Pannell to remove the RV. Furthermore, with the RV parked in the parking lot, it effectively eliminates one of the parking spaces from use by potential patrons and may inhibit handicap access/parking. City laws and regulations apply to all equally. We hope Mr. Pannell would agree to this condition and comply with the law.

Michael said...

Flight Blight,
My mistake, I didn't know there was a law for having an RV on his property. I guess there is a law for pretty much everything. Has the RV always been there or is this something new in the past 5 years?
Last time I drove by the place, I saw a 5 to 6 parking spots including one right in front of the store.

Fight Blight said...


Land use laws govern pretty much everything we can do with a property, including the number and manner of parking spaces and handicap spaces. Anyone who opens a business is obligated to know, understand and comply with the laws governing their use and development. Mr. Pannell is a retired Alameda County Sheriff, a college graduate, an astute businessman that has controlled 30% of all black-owned businesses in North Oakland. I find it hard to believe that he does not understand the laws and policies of the City of Oakland. If he doesn't know, all he has to do is consult with the City Planning Staff and find out what the requirements are. Failing to do so indicates that he is not the responsible owner some are painting him to be.

Ryan said...

Flight Blight, you said he controls 30% of black owned businesses in North Oakland? Flight Blight what are other those businesses? Does that 30% count for one liquor store, therefore he owns 1 out of 3 black businesses in North Oakland. What are the other businesses? I would like to know.

Fight Blight said...


If you were at the public hearing, reviewed the meeting minutes, or the DVD of the meeting you will find that Mr. Pannell and his supporters claimed that he and his family controlled 30% of all black-owned businesses in North Oakland. We are only repeating what Mr. Pannell and his supporters have stated. We have no specific knowledge of his other business enterprises. Frankly, they are irrelevant to the specific legal question at hand--does his project site have a unique or extraordinary physical and topographic constraint that precludes him from meeting the requirements of the zoning code that a liquor shall not be sited closer than 1000 feet from another liquor store?

Mr. Pannell and his entourage provided the statement about his ownership of black-owned businesses as a way to present an image of a responsible businessman. However, what it also revealed is that Mr. Pannell is not the victim he and his entourage claims that he is. As I previously stated, he is an astute businessman.

Knowing that he had no legal basis for a Major Variance, he proceeded with the assistance of his family, friends, Minister, the Black Chamber of Commerce and the controversial Uhuru Group to present to the Planning Commission that the opposition were rascists, gentrifiers, and newcomers who were opoosed to black-owned businesses. He and his supporters provided not a shred of evidence how his proposed sales of alcohol met the findings for a Major Variance. He and his supporters even went so far as to personally attack Mr. David Valeska, the City Planner assigned to this project, and was admonished by the Planning Commission not to personalize the matter. Clearly, he had no case to argue so he went on the attack against his opponents and the City Planner who was proposing denial of his application--much the same as his supporters have recently in the comments of this blog by broadly painting anyone who opposes the liquor store as liars.

We have invited Mr. Pannell an unedited platform to present his case to the community any misconceptions. So far he has not accepted the invitation, but he has allowed and encouraged his supporters to continue to paint the opposition as liars by his own silence. That is unfortunate.

Fight Blight said...


By the way--To provide our readers context, how far from the Nic Nak site do you live and how long have you lived in the neighborhood?


Ryan said...

Why cant you go to him? You know where he is? He is not hiding. He probably doesn't even know about his blog or even has a computer. Go to 6400 shattuck and see him. Opposing Neighbors Stop being scared to approach him and go to his business and talk to him. Its so easy to do. Have anyone went to go talk to the man?You expect an elderly man to go type about it? Go

Ryan said...

8 years and two blocks away how about yourself?

Ryan said...

Nobody knows your name concerned neighbor and good neighbor

Fight Blight said...


As we have noted before, when a property owner or business proposes to develop a property or create a new use or continue a use that requires a permit, it is traditionally the property or business that comes to the neighbors and the community to present their project and address the concerns of neighbors. In this way, the property owner can work directly with the neighbors to creat a project that garners the support of the neighbors before they go before the City in public hearings. It is in the best interest of an applicant to work with the neighbors, particularly when you propose a controversial land use.

In this case, Mr. Pannell said nothing to the neighbors or Community, applied for an over the counter permit under the name of Jo Jo's rather than Nic Nak, even though he got a letter from the City saying he needed to apply for a Major Conditional Use Permit and Major Variance (both of which require public hearings), and began selling liquor. When the neighbors noticed that he began selling liquor and realized that the City had erroneously issued a permit, they contacted the City and complained. The City correctly rescinded his Deemed Approved Status.

If Mr. Pannell had done some outreach to the Community, the outcome might be different. At least, the Community would have felt that Mr. Pannell was being upfront about his intentions. While we don't know for certain, it feels as if Mr. Pannell attempted to get his approvals under the radar screen of the City and the Community.

As we have stated before, we have offered Mr. Pannell an unedited platform to clear up any misconceptions the Community might have about his proposed land use and to address the Community directly about why he wants to open a liquor store at 6400 Shattuck.

Mr. Pannell has an entourage that includes his immediate family, his Minister, members of the Black Chamber of Commerce and the Uhuru
Group that could assist him in preparing a written statement for the We Fight Blight Blog. Mr. Pannell has a college degree and is an astute businessman. We certainly don't underestimate his ability to prepare a written statement as you do.

Our offer stil stands Mr. Pannell. Please send your post to

Thank you.

Shanda said...

let's see
it's his responsibility to do outreach to the community, not the other way around. I was really offended by him going on and on at the hearing about "racist, gentrifying neighbors opposing black businesses" he did not make himself any new friends by talking crap like that. personally I would never patronize the store because it doesn't sell anything I want, I want fresh fruit i go to berkeley bowl. and since he made it very clear how he feels about his neighbors I would not feel welcome at his place anyway.

and regardless, it doesn't matter. The question is not whether he is a good person, runs a clean store or how long he has been here. The question is whether or not he can legally sell alcohol at that particular location. I guess we will just have to keep ramming that point home for those who still seem to have such a tough time understanding.

I don't want any more liquor stores in my hood. I took a little stroll around for maybe an hour or hour and a half and I counted six mini markets within walking distance of my house but I probaly missed a few. Not to mention all the cigarette butts, potato chip bags, used napkins and other trash tossed around, which increased in volume the closer I got to one of the markets. If anyone within a square mile of Alcatraz and Shattuck suddenly get a craving for a Mickey's bigmouth or a sixpack of Michelob then there are plenty of options, we don't need more. I don't care if your Mother Teresa I don't want another place selling booze six blocks away from my house.

Ryan said...

So I guess the option to go see him is no, He has to get to a computer to write something up.Its Sad you that refuse to go see him

GoodNeighbor said...

LOL, no one knows your real name either - "Ryan", "Jonathan", and "Mike"

GoodNeighbor (me) and Concerned Neighbor are different people, btw.

I HAVE gone to see Mr. P and got the same spiel he gives to everyone. Then I went to the Planning meeting, because I have a house a block away and am concerned about what will happen in our neighborhood.

I've yet to hear ONE reason I should support Mr. P's liquor license plans. Since you seem to know him personally, why should I, in your opinion support the sales of liquor in MY neighborhood?

Shanda said...

hey Ryan
You seem to have internet. You seem to know everything about him and his buisness. Why cant he just write something, give it to you and you put it up for him?

Supportive Neighbor said...

The problem this blog has isn't with the liquor store itself, but with the impression that it will draw an undesirable population. If this was not a run-down old store but a new Trader Joe's opening up (which sells a full assortment of beer, wine and liquor), it might face opposition, but it is unimaginable that it would be facing this kind of fear. The salient difference here is that a Trader Joe's is a middle class establishment. Thus, the class of the store's owner and expected customers is an integral part of the judgment linking it to the possibility of crime. But class alone would not do it. The image of crime pictured here -- now be honest with yourself -- is of groups of young black men gathering in front of the store. While there may be in fact a statistical association between liquor stores, young blacks, and crime in North Oakland, using this association to make a preemptive judgment against a business is the very definition of racism and class prejudice. Of course you can frame it in the language of blight, crime, and quality-of-life ordinances -- but that is the very stuff by which prejudice turns into gentrification.

Fight Blight said...

Supportive Neighbor,

You are right; the store in and of itself is not the problem. That's why many in the community, including We Fight Blight, supported approval of a covenience store. However, you are wrong in believing We Fight Blight is opposed to "an undesirable population" whatever that means. What we oppose are antisocial behaviors expressed in public venues and on private property resulting directly from highly irresponsible people and an over-concentration of liquor outlets--littering, vandalism, loitering, drug dealing, public drunkeness, fighting, crime and DUIs. These behaviors can be expressed by anyone, regardless of race or class.

Nic Nak is not a "run down old store" as you claim. Rather, it is tidy and clean, if a bit outdated in its architectural appearance.

It is interesting that your own assumptions and biases are that Trader Joe's is middle class with the unspoken implication being that Nic Nak is lower class. That is certainly not our assumption. Moreover, your conclusion that "the class of the store's owner and expected customers is an integral part of the judgment linking it to the possibility of crime" is simply misguided. In fact, some of the studies we have referenced, and invite you to read, show the strong relationship between the number of [alcohol] outlets and assaults was found to be independent of such factors as unemployment rates, poverty, education, ethnic/racial makeup, and income.

As we consistently note, the issue is not about race, but about criminal behaviors and public health problems caused directly by the density or over-concentration of alcohol outlets.

The "preemptive judgment against a business" you speak of is actually a well-reasoned, well-researched argument against the density of alcohol outlets coupled with a strong desire to avoid adding to the already significant burden of crime and public health issues in North Oakland. This is further substantiated by the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council, the Berkeley Alcohol Policy Action Committee, neighborhood associations and residents who have witnessed the nuisances inflicted on our community by the irresponsible patrons of liquor stores.

Your post is largely meant to be inflammatory and is a really feeble attempt at broadly painting this blog and all of the committed members of our community as racist gentrifiers. This was the same tactic that Mr. Pannell used.

There are members of this community who are white, black, Asian, Latino, straight and gay, old and young, who oppose this liquor store--not because they are racist as you would claim, but because they care about the safety and well-being of their neighborhood and don't want the negative fall-out from yet another liquor store.

Your notion that prejudice fuels gentrification in North Oakland is misguided. Gentrification is an economic phenomena that happens to all people regardless of race or class. It is not something perpetuated by whites against African Americans. Rather it is the cumulative effects of many independent decisions among consumers to locate in certain areas of the community, which pushes prices up. Just because residents want a clean, safe, and crime-free neighborhood does not mean they are racist and does not mean they are intentionally foisting gentrification on the community when they oppose a liquor store. These are basic human desires for safety and security.

Your judgments of this blog are based on the same ingorant assumptions and prejudices that you attempt to criticize us for.

Why don't you try this on for size:

Not all is as it seems in your little world. As a person of color, I resent your cry of racism and gentrification as an attempt to sour the political discourse over a land use decision. Doing so devalues the meaning of the word racism. Perhaps the rules should apply to Mr. Pannell just as they do everyone else or would that be reverse discrimination?

Anonymous said...

Let's see, you are a person of color, what color I wonder; maybe Blue, Purple, Pink or Green. If you know your American History you might remember at one time the majority of Americans, considered all Black People Colored Folks, which actually preceded the use of the N-Word. Thank God, for James Brown who was a positive voice in the African-American community and gave us "say it loud I'm Black and I'm proud". Then we were identified by the majority as Black. When we demanded that our true heritage be the identifier, African-American, and now who decided to call us people of color, which is a continuation of racist identifiers that are in step with Institutional Racism. What will the majority call African-American's next. If you are a person who has a African-American ancestry then it's time for you to understand what color you are. Understand there are different colors of people obviously, some Brown, White, Black and others be specific and stop using code words to identify a special group of people use their color. By the way have you decided what color you are yet? Whatever you do, do not call African American people, colored people or people of color. Remember white and colored restrooms and drinking faucets, I do.

We Fight Blight said...


Clearly since your claims of racism regarding Nic Nak Liquors ring hollow and are indefensible, you need to create yet another red herring--our use of the term "people of color". Like your assumption that gentrification in North Oakland is fueled by racism, your assumption that we are "African-American" and that we need to understand what color we are is sorely misguided. Perhaps you should take the energy you exerted in your patronizing scolding about "people of color" and use it to read and digest the following since people of color extends well beyond African-Americans:

"Person of color (plural: people of color) is a term used, primarily in the United States, to describe all people who are not white. The term is meant to be inclusive, emphasizing common experiences of racism. People of color is preferred to both non-white and minority, which are also inclusive, because it frames the subject positively; non-white defines people in terms of what they are not (white), and minority, by its very definition, places the subject in a subordinate position. 'Person of color' has a positive connotation and has often been preferred by people of color in the US.

Although the term citizens of color was used by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, and other uses date to as early as 1818, people of color did not gain prominence for many years. Influenced by radical theorists like Frantz Fanon, racial justice activists in the U.S. began to use the term 'people of color' in the late 1970s. By the early 1990s, it was in wide circulation. Both anti-racist activists and academics sought to move understandings of race beyond the black-white binary then prevalent.

According to Stephen Saris, in the United States there are two big racial divides. 'First, there is the black-white kind, which is basically anti-black'. The second racial divide is the one 'between whites and everyone else' with whites being 'narrowly construed' and everyone else being called "people of color". Because the term people of color includes vastly different people with only the common distinction of not being white, it draws attention to the fundamental role of racialization in the US. It acts as 'a recognition that certain people are racialized' and serves to emphasize 'the importance of coalition' by 'making connections between the ways different 'people of color' are racialized.' As Joseph Truman explains, the term people of color is attractive because it unites disparate racial and ethnic groups into a larger collective in solidarity with one another.

Linguistically, the term person of color 'stands nonwhite on its head, substituting a positive for a negative.' Whereas nonwhite defines people by what they lack (whiteness), people of color positively defines people by their connected experiences.

[P]eople of color is a phrase often used by nonwhites to put nonwhite positively. (Why should anybody want to define himself by what he is not?) Politically, it expresses solidarity with other nonwhites, and subtly reminds whites that they are a minority. When used by whites, people of color usually carries a friendly and respectful connotation, but should not be used as a synonym for black; it refers to all racial groups that are not white.

Furthermore, the term people of color has been embraced and used to replace the term minority because the term minority implies inferiority and disfranchisement. In addition, people of color constitute the majority population in certain US cities".

While you choose to emphasize the racial divide and engage in divisiveness, we are trying to make our community safer for everyone, regardless of race. What are you doing for your community?