Saturday, October 3, 2009

Nic Nak Liquor Store--Nothing different. It's all exploitative.

Nic Nak Liquor Store at 6400 Shattuck Avenue is attempting to reopen after being closed for more than 5 years. Because their Deemed Approved Status as a legal nonconforming use has expired, they must get a Major Conditional Use and Major Variance from the City of Oakland Planning Commission. The Shattuck Crime Prevention Council, the East Lorin Neighborhood Association, business owners and hundreds of residents in the North Oakland Community do not want another liquor store--we already have 18 within one mile of Nic Nak.

The community is opposed to Nic Nak because of the demonstrated link between liquor stores, crime and public health problems. The City Planning Staff originally recommended denial of the Nic Nak liquor store indicating the City could not make the legal findings to approve it--meaning it was contrary to the existing planning laws and regulations in the City of Oakland, not to mention the adopted public policy of the City Council. Nevertheless, the City Planning Commission wants to approve the liquor store. Why? That's a good question that only several Planning Commissioners including Sandra Galvez, C. Blake Huntsman, and Douglas Boxer can answer.

The video below by Mikkey Halstead explores the relationship of liquor stores in African-American communities to its residents. While his video focuses specifically on the exploitative nature of non-black owned liquor stores and their negative effect on African-Americans, we see absolutely no difference in North Oakland between a black-owned liquor store and a non black-owned liquor store and its adverse effect on all residents of our community. From our perspective, which differs from Mikkey Halstead's, the race, ethnicity or national origin of the owner and the patrons is irrelevant. Fundamentally, liquor stores in North Oakland sell the same things: liquor, high octane beer, fortified wines, junk food, processed food, cigarettes, and lotto tickets.

People may argue about food security and the importance of the corner liquor store to low-income communities and the relevance of convenience to those with limited transportation, but the fact remains the same; liquor stores are exploitative by the very products they peddle and the price they extract from their customers. In the case of Nic Nak, it doesn't matter whether Mr. Pannell is African-American or not, he proposes to sell the same products as any of the other 18 liquor stores within a mile, none of which are healthy for the community. North Oakland and South Berkeley are replete with healthy alternatives to the corner liquor store and have an abundance of easily accessible public transportation. The corner liquor store is a legacy of times past when North Oakland and South Berkeley were disadvantaged.

Watch and listen very carefully to Mikkey Halstead. Going beyond the stereotypical characterization of Middle Eastern shop owners (which we resoundly reject), the fundamental storyline here is the damage the corner liquor store inflicts on communities. This video says it all.

Do we really want Nic Nak in North Oakland? Planning Commissioners, do you want Nic Nak in your neighborhood?  Do you really think that it is somehow better that it is an African-American who profits from the corner liquor store at the expense of the community, rather than anyone else?

We have to wonder what really motivates the Planning Commissioners who elected to support the Nic Nak application for a Major Variance. Does the approval of the Nic Nak, despite fundamental conflicts with adopted public policy in the City of Oakland, somehow assuage their liberal guilt? Do they think the approval of a black-owned liquor store is somehow righteous payback for past transgressions? Or are these Planning Commissioners simply positioning themselves for their next political office and think it politically astute to approve a black-owned liquor store using a unique and unprecedented legal theory so they can secure potential future votes in a community where playing racial politics and building coalitions is critical to being elected?

The support of these three Planning Commissioners is only folly as this matter will most certainly be appealed to the City Council and could be litigated in the courts. Commissioners: make sure your findings are well-reasoned and rooted in a strong legal foundation as they will certainly not pass judicial scrutiny as written.

You Planning Commissioners are proposing to sacrifice our community for your own political gain--selfish to say the least. Not unlike Mr. Pannell's proposal to sacrifice our community for his own profit.  Listen carefully. Mikkey Halstead has it right when he shines a light on the unhealthy aspects of the corner liquor store.

CAUTION: The following video may be considered controversial. It uses adult themes and adult language. It is not suitable for children or those who do not wish to hear adult language.


Anonymous said...

So, I'm getting a feeling that either way, this situation is going to end up in court.

Fight Blight said...

Mr. Pannell indicated at the last public hearing that if he did not get his permit he would sue the City. It is hard to understand on what grounds he would sue. If the City were to deny his permit, they would have a strong legal rationale to do so--his Deemed Approved Status as a legal noncorming use expired, he has been out of operation for at least 5 years, and he does not meet the current planing and zoning regulations since he would be located within 1,000 feet of an existing liquor store. Moreover, their are other liquor outlets within a short walking distance that provide the products Mr. Pannell proposes to sell.

The hundreds of people who actually live in the neighborhood and oppose the liquor store have indicated this matter will not end with the Planning Commission. The first step would be an appeal to the City Council. There have been many projects the Planning Commission has approved only to be rejected by the City Council. If the Council were to approve this matter the City's use of an unprecedented legal theory and misapplication of the existing zoning laws that require there to be a unique or extraordinary physical constraint makes the City an easy target for a lawsuit. The City then is placed in the unenviable position of trying to defend a liquor store in court despite strong community opposition and existing adopted public policy to limit liquor stores.

We know that Mr. Pannell has obtained legal counsel and has been working to have the staff report water down the permit conditions. Several conditions including those related to the fence, landscaping and the billboard have been modified significantly. These, in and of themselves, will create additional grounds to appeal the matter to City Council and/or the courts.

Mr. Pannell, in trying to re-open his liquor store, has alienated hundreds of potential customers. The community is changing. It is unfortunate he doesn't understand this and seems to think the community wants 40 ouncers, high octane beer, fortified wines, airline style liquor servings, swishers and junk food. We know his only desire is to get the City permits to maximize the economic value of his property so he can sell it along with the liquor license. Mr. Pannell is no pillar of our community.

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to say that this video represents his store? On the outside and inside it looks nothing like that. I'm White, my friends who are White and Asian go to his store. When he opened up I pass up all the other stores in the area and go to Nic Nak. Mr. Pannell is a cool dude. To let people know, not everyone in the neighborhood is against the store.

Claudia said...

I understand that some people are going to be against this store selling liquor, but please don’t post a blog with a video like this and try to say that kind of violence will happen at Nic Nak!!... All you are doing is lying to people to try and get them on your side. You are trying to make it look like everyone in this community doesn’t want this store, but if you attended the meeting back in August you would know how much support this store has. Nic Nak had over 300 signatures of supporters who live within walking distance from the store. The Commissioners approved this store because of its history Nic Nak has been serving its community for years without any problems!

Fight Blight said...

Anonymous, please read the entirety of the post and listen to the video. Liquor stores, such as Mr. Pannell's, are unhealthy for the community. Try to argue that hard liquor, fortified wines, high octane beer, swishers, and fast food are good for anyone. No matter how you portray this store--it is fundamentally the same as the stores Mikkey Halstead raps about.

Claudia, can you please point out any specific statement that we make on this post, or on this blog for that matter, that is a lie. This post speaks not to the issue of crime associated with liquor stores, although there is a wide body of evidence linking concentrations of alcohol outlets to an increase in crime, but to the adverse health effects of the corner liquor store to a community.

It is a fallacy to state that Nic Nak had over 300 supporters within walking distance to the Nic Nak. Mr. Pannell brought a number of supporters to the meeting including his family, his friends, his minister, a representative of the Black Chamber of Commerce, and the controversial Uhuru group. With only a few exceptions, all of these people including Mr. Pannell do not live in North Oakland or within walking distance to the Nic Nak. The 300 people to which you refer is a self created list of supporters that Mr. Pannell developed. There is no independent verification of the addresses and the individuals on that list. We understand that Mr. Pannell gave away free watermelon to some customers to sign the list. Howeve, no one has verified whether the names represent real people and whether the people live within walking distance of the Nic Nak.

On the other hand, the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council and the East Lorin Neighborhood Association, both of which are very active in the community and know a large number of residents within walking distance of Nic Nak and within Beat 11X in North Oakland, gathered approximately 200signatures in opposition. These are real live residents from the immediate neighborhood. In addition, over 100 residents of the immediate neighborhood have sent in emails and letters to the City of Oakland opposing the sale of liquor.

Claudia, perhaps Mr. Pannell would be willing to provide We Fight Blight with a scanned copy of his petition with 300 plus people so that we can independently verify the names and addresses? Probably not since Mr. Pannell has not been honest with the community or the City.

MJ said...

you gathered 200 signatures for the opposition? Are your signatures and addresses authentic? "These are real live residents from the immediate neighborhood". Who in the the hell verified your opposing signatures. His petition signatures has to be falsified right because he had over 300 signatures and nobody would support his store right? You cant believe it.. I put my name and address on the petition so are you going to call my name and address false too?We Fight Blight go to his store and ask for the copies, stop being so scared to go inside nothing will happen to you. Your saying, we understand this we know he does this, we understand he spends this, we understand Pannell gives away that... who is we??

"We know his only desire is to get the City permits to maximize the economic value of his property so he can sell it along with the liquor license."


Assumptions, Assumptions, and more Assumptions. Again how do you know? Again its from he say, she, and they say. Is your intel valid? Are you sitting in a unmarked van across the street watching and listening with a directional microphone..

Fight Blight said...

MJ, thanks for your comments. They seem to echo Claudias and Anonymous. We wonder whether you are the same poster as you continue to implore us to go his store and ask Mr. Pannell directly. Mr. Pannell has been invited multiple times to post, undedited, on this blog to clear up any and all misperceptions you and others seem to have regarding his store and his intentions.

Let's discuss one of his intentions; his desire to sell the liquor license and store. Mr. Pannell has attempted to sell his liquor license in the recent past two times. This is according to the State Alcohol Beverage Control where there were two applications to transfer the license. In both cases, the applicants withdrew and decided not to purchase the license. We believe that was because Mr. Pannell did not have a permit from the City of Oakland to sell at an approved location. Without an approved location, the purchaser of the liquor license would have to identify a location and obtain a permit from the City to sell at that location using their newly acquired ABC liquor license. Mr. Pannell then attempted, under a new name and under false pretenses, to obtain a zoning clearance rather than a Major Conditional Use permit and a Major Variance as he was requested to do so by the City. Now Mr. Pannell promises to keep the liquor store in his family forever and ever. Why would the community believe this when in the past he has actively attempted to sell the store and has attempted to obtain a permit under false pretenses.

Another case in point is the billboard. Mr. Pannell promised at the public hearing that he would remove the billboard. This was said to the Planning Commission as a way to convince them to give him an approval. Now that the Planning Commission has indicated they may approve the project and the City Staff incorporated a condition requiring removal of the billboard, Mr. Pannell and his attorney have gone to City Staff and requested the condition be removed and/or rewritten in vague language that makes it unenforceable. Mr. Pannell has no intention of removing the billboard. Just as he has no intention on keeping his liquor license and his store.

We have gone into the store several times and have heard the tale of woe that his supporters have been telling. In their world view Mr. Pannell is a victim. In ours, he is an astute businessman that does not have any ties to our community and has mislead both the community and the City.

We have provided him plenty of opportunities to give his unedited side of the story. He has refused. If he is such a pillar of the community, then why is he hiding from the community. Also, if there are 300 supporters, where are they. The only supporters that seem to post on this blog are you under various psuedonyms. Those against the project have spoken loudly and clearly with over 100 emails to the City.

We Fight Blight has personally reviewed the list of signatures obtained by the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council and the East Lorin Neighborhood Association. Perhaps Mr. Pannell would like to make his list available? Or is he afraid someone might actually scrutinize the signatures and addresses too closely?

claudia said...

Fight Blight



What makes you even think that Mr. Pannell is wasting his time reading this BS???

Anonymous said...

That video is pretty funny. There are plenty of Arab grocers in plenty of other types of neighborhoods, just to address one of that lamebrain's points. They might sell less Hennessy & Swisher Sweets, but I guess the customers want different things in different neighborhoods. If the City Of Oakland shut NikNak down, they must have been REALLY out of hand, because it takes just about forever to get nuisance store closed. I think Parnell & that Yemeni guy are the only two in the city to have been shut down. Corner stores suck, & Oakland needs to pare down the amount of them, & the only way is through attrition. Once a store is closed, it cannot open again.

Anonymous said...

We just don't want a store there anymore. To me Nic Nak has never been a nuisance however we just dont want a store there and if he was to put else up, I still wouldn't go there because of the type family they are. The family is all about profit. To the Anonymous person, No the store was not out of hand we do not want a store there anymore. Nic Nak may have a excellent record we still dont want it there anymore.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Fail? HA! Just wait for the appeal before you start counting your money, Pannell.

Anonymous said...

Ok that last comment??? Envy, Jealousy and just straight up Haters.