Monday, October 19, 2009

Nic Nak Liquors Appealed to City Council

On October 7, 2009, the Oakland Planning Commission approved a major conditional use permit and a major variance for the Nic Nak Liquor Store to sell alcoholic beverages. This approval occured in the face of heavy public opposition by members of the East Lorin Neighborhood Association, the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council and North Oakland business owners.

North Oakland and South Berkeley already have an overconcentration of liquor outlets with a total of 18. Many of these existing liquor outlets have been problematic with reports of increased crime, loitering, graffitti, and public drunkeness. Contrary to the Oakland Planning Code that governs Alcohol Beverage Sales and is geared towards preventing an over-concentration of such outlets, Nic Nak Liquors would be located within 1,000 feet of another liquor store. Despite having its Deemed Approved Status as a legal nonconforming use lapse for five years, the Planning Commission approved Nic Nak's request to reopen. In doing so, the Planning Commissioner's, led by Doug Boxer, Senator Barbara Boxer's son, failed to carry out the stated purpose of the Oakland Planning Code, which is to eliminate and/or ameliorate nonconforming uses such as Nic Nak Liquors. Boxer, like other Commissioners who voted to approve the Nic Nak's application, could not seem to rationalize his support other than to indicate it was very emotional.

Word on the street is that the North Oakland Community is fed up with the Planning Commission's legally suspect decision to approve Nic Nak Liquors and has appealed it to the City Council. Members of the community have banded together raise the almost $1,200 filing fee. Nic Nak Liquors will not be able to sell liquor until the matter is resolved by the City Council. Should the City Council uphold the appeal, the Pannell's only recourse would be to sue the City.


Anonymous said...

~50 members of the N. Oakland area donated to the funding of this appeal, which is not an insignificant group of angry / frustrated neighbors.

It is shocking that the Pannells have made no effort to meet with the community during this entire conflict. Had they shown the least bit of interest in being concerned about our worries this fiasco could have been different.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, have try to contact him about your issue with the store?

Tevon Mitchell said...

If Pannell was to do a meeting about the situation. You would still be the same feelings about the store and family. All that talking about if they had shown the least bit of interest it would be different is bull and you know it. While you are hiding behind anonymous. You know where he is. The Manager lives around the corner. How is she suppose to talk to anyone if everyone is hiding. No need for playing hide and seek. Shes a deputy probation officer for the North Oakland area look her up.Someone earlier said she was a DPO for over 25 years. My thing is you have someone who's a DPO that knows the California Penal code, helps the youth and knows the area and people around the neighborhood. whats the issue? See other stores you talk about don't have a person that does that. Other stores I go into have families that immigrated to this country to only start business. Is what her job not helping the community already think about that? Did make a career in for helping people and enforcing law. This is most likely a hobby or side thing for you all, however this has person has currently dedicated a quarter of her life fixing Oakland. She most likely knows both middle and low income neighbors instead of just the middle income as some of you do. This store is different from other stores understand that. You have people in the family who have been and currently in law enforcement and military running the store and you still tripping about the matter. I think you should ask the lady for advice on making the neighborhood better instead of acting like a angry mob towards the store. She most likely know more than any of you do when it comes to crime. Keep it honest yourself.

enough already said...

@Tevon Mitchell

Not one single word of your post, not one, was relevant. Your off on such a big tangent you may as well have been talking about underwater basket weaving or the price of tea in Bangladesh. I don't care what a probation officer has to say! Who cares about that! If I'm buying a house, do I ask the car salesman for help? No! If she knows the law then she has to know selling alcohol at the Nic Nak is illegal. That ends the discussion right then and there.

It is NOT UP TO THE COMMUNITY to come crawling over to that store to smooth his ruffled feathers. That is not how it works. He is the one that is pushing to put a negative impact on all of us for his own personal gain. Therefore it is up to HIM to demonstrate to US how it will be so much to our advantage to give him a special exception that will allow him make money selling booze and trashing our neighborhood. What outreach has he done... oh yeah, big fat zero. So far as I know, I have not heard one word from him or his crew other than at that first planning comm. meeting where he basically said he should be able to do whatever he wants, and anyone who said boo to him was just a racist. WTF? After he chose to go down that path, I did not want to hear anything else from him. My mind is made up.

I donated to the appeal fund. I would gladly donate again. It will be a great day when that eyesore is shutdown for good.

Claudia said...

When were they selling alcohol illegally?? I would like to know.

Anonymous said...

Im neutral towards the store but what i think Tevon was trying to say was the person who runs the liquor store is a about the community. I even understood that. Most store owners of that nature probably never stepped foot in that line of work like I said I am neutral, it but you are dead wrong when you say how being a peace officer is irrelevant. Its relevant because the daughter runs the store and lives and works with youth in community where the youth is a big factor for crime and violence. She might as well be the owner. She is tapped in the community more than you think. Some kid might of change his/her mind about stealing your car because of her. look up the job description. In addition since she runs the store all the youth and parents of the youth knows her so they are not going to F around there. having her running store influence the community already. They respect the manager which means they will respect the store surroundings. Really is that not outreach? That analogy is way off. In addition i think his contribution to the commmunity is not having gang bangers,loitering or any of that stuff hang out in front of his place ever. I must say that i never seen now one hang out there. I drove by the store and he was out on the street curb picking up trash.Yes the liquor store been there for 35 years, However I think that store is definitely no eyesore. I mean its not high class, lavish place we might all want it to be however its not an eyesore especially when you compare it to other stores. I do go there for slushes and sometimes cooking oil. Now if he is selling alcohol illegally, I am against it.If the store was really out of hand i would be against it as well.

david vartanoff said...

let's get something straight. The legal situation is 1. the license expired due to store closure, 2. Oakland explicitly prohibits close proximity new licenses.
So what is so hard to understand, especially for college educated law enforcement employees? As to who or whom I am acquainted with in my 38+ years within a couple blocks of this store, exactly what does that matter? I have helped raise a couple kids who went to the nearest local elementary school, and more recently have been and am a tutor to a couple more in middle/high school.
As to immigrants, my father came to this country because they were going to execute him where he was born. So what!

Claudia said...

I would like to know what he did that was illegal?

skater dude said...

I am an outsider. I live in San Fran. This blog has some interesting reading material.Last time I check that area is filled with black people. The demographic being mainly black and white. Where there any black people that stood up or spoke being against the store in the commission meetings? I'm
Just curious everyone.

Anonymous said...

Most likely you still trippin'. The law is quite clear. The planning commision allowing the plain as day law to be broken because some fool threatens to scream "racist" is pretty damned chickenshit. Everybody should have to follow the same zoning laws.

I would like to see Okalnd shut down these pesky likker stoes by attrition, I thought that was the plan w/ these ordinances.

Anonymous said...

Skater Dude,

There is a tremendous amount of cultural pressure within the Black community to not criticize other Blacks, especially when it appears that the 'opposition' is White. If you lived in this, or this type of community, you'd no doubt have experienced the pressure to conform.

I have spoken to many of my Black neighbors who vehemently don't want the Liquor License because they recognize what liquor has done to their community previously. However, when asked to make a statement publicly, I've been told "No, I don't want to get involved." or "I can't, and I hope you understand."

Don't forget, this is *just about a Liquor License. It isn't that the community is against the Pannells having a business. I think we, as a community, all support the Pannells business goals and desire to turn a profit. What we don't support are their tactics of dumping low priced hard liquor into a neighborhood that is already more than saturated with liquor.

Fight Blight said...

While Mr. Pannell is an ex-Sheriff and his daughter may be a Probation Officer, this is not central to the legal question related to approval of the Nic Nak. The central question is whether the project meets the legal findings for a variance. Variances are limited to unique or extraordinary physical circumstances that prevent an applicant from meeting the intended purpose of the Oakland Planning Code. In this case there is only Commissioners Anne E. Mudge and Doug Boxer's fabricated notion that "historical relevance" is equal to a unique physical constraint. This idea is novel and has never before been used to approve a variance in the history of Oakland.

What is sad about this whole thing is that Mr. Pannell would have garnered much support from the community to redevelop his site to a higher and better use and at a higher density. However, he failed to work with the community and failed to consider what the community might be willing to support. Instead, when he faced opposition to his liquor sales, Mr. Pannell fabricated the idea that this was about race and gentrification, when in fact it is about a community fed up with too many liquor stores.

Perhaps Commissioner Doug Boxer would like to explain to members of the Community how he believes the proposed project meets the legal findings for a variance?

Anonymous said...

I would not mind the store however there all about profit. Most of the time when I pass by there I see mercedez Benz's , Escalades with gold and large rims. Some said they have a bentley. Vacation houses and such. All for profit.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in the neighborhood, but I will say that that property has been an unproductive eyesore for the entire time I've known of it (over 10 years). your intersection there is already bad enough with the pizza hut and that OTHER liquor store with that ugly sign.

I say best of luck getting rid of this liquor store. then start on the other one.

Claudia said...

Anonymous(HI HATER),

I'm sorry but your comment is so stupid! Don't hate on people just because they have nice things. I'm sure they worked really hard to have all the nice cars and vacation houses that you say they have. If they were really all about profit they would have higher prices in the store. Maybe you should go in there and compare it to the other 18 liquor outlets in that area. STOP HATING!

Anonymous said...

I was at the first commission meeting but I was there for another item on the agenda. I watch the whole thing. Im white and I didnt think it was racism. Ok yes some guy walked up and spoke about how it was white against black and gentrification(you call it racism). The man who owned the store did not call out racism. Pannell did not get on the microphone and yell out "you racist all of you!!!". I'm reading this entire blog and people are saying he called everyone who's against it a racist. He DID NOT threaten he would call out racism if it didn't go his way, you are just EXPECTING he would call racism because mostly everyone there were white.
When the planning commission asked you raise your hand if you support or oppose the store. The people who raise their hand in opposition were all white. In contrast there were black white and hispanic who raised there hand in support and two white people who spoke in support of the store. Why the two white people wasn't scared to speak supporting the store when there was a mainly white opposition. Are you going to say next, well white neighbors are more brave enough to say something than black neighbors. I have many friends who are black, and trust me black people would stand up and say something no matter what the color of skin there are.

Fight Blight said...

Sorry, but some of you do not get it. Race and gentrification are irrelevant to the legal question at hand. Whether people are white, black or Asian is irrelevant. By the way, Hispanic/Latino etc. is not a race but an ethnicity. You can be Latino and be any of three races. But this is all entirely irrelevant to the question at hand. It only became part of the equation because Mr. Pannell and his supporters injected race and gentrification into the issue. Go back and watch the KTOP coverage carefully.

Anonymous said...

What is the reason for a planning commission?

Anonymous said...

To the person that doesn't live in the neighborhood and who ever else that feels this way. Seems to me that you intersection just needs to go. Talking about we need to close nic nak then pizza hut then T&K market, whats next the wash house. Then your going to try to close the body shop, window shop, chinese food place. Who doesn't like pizza?

pleaseGetOverYourself said...


Please stop cluttering up this board with your really clueless and dumb comments. You are either deliberately missing the point here, or simply aren't intellectually capable of grasping it. Either way, it's quite embarrassing for you, and annoying for the rest of us, to have your mindless drivel interspersed with others who are trying to have a rational discussion of the merits. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

whats wrong her comments? she only ask if what Mr. Pannell did was illegal? No one has answered that yet. Since everyone is talking about the legal question at hand. What about some of the opposing who are missing the point here. An anonymous person said:
I would not mind the store however there all about profit. Most of the time when I pass by there I see mercedez Benz's , Escalades with gold and large rims. Some said they have a bentley. Vacation houses and such. All for profit."

Whats up with that?
Is this person grasping it? Or is this person correct and on point.

If people on here want to get rid of the liquor store , pizza hut and every other business on that corner you think is so called blight what do you call it. If its not urban gentrification then what is it? I feel its control, if neighbors don't have absolute control over what businesses do. Then its a problem.

Claudia said...

@ please get over yourself

We must be on two different blogs because half of the stuff that has been said on here for the past two months has nothing to do with the merits! So YOU need to get over yourself!!!! Go back to the beginning and read ALL the comments. If people would stop posting lies on here I wouldn't have to say anything. You are barking up the wrong tree if you really think I’m just going to sit back and let people make things up about the family!

low profile neighbor said...

the fact that none of the "family" has had the spine to say anything themselves on this issue but instead have you as their pitbull so to speak, tells me all I need to know. not only that, they bring the uhuru whackjobs to the meeting? they keep company with that kind of people, then I will stay far far far away.

"When the character of a man is not clear to you, look to his friends." Japanese proverb

Fight Blight said...


There are two aspects to the legality of Mr. Pannell's actions. First, when Mr. Pannell ceased selling liquor at 6400 Shattuck for more than 90 continuous days and voluntarily gave up his liquor license to the State Alcohol Beverage Control, the City notified him that his Deemed Approved Status as a legal nonconforming use had lapsed. Mr. Pannell failed to appeal that decision. The City informed him that he was required to submit a Major Conditional Use Permit and a Major Variance should he wish to continue alcohol sales. Instead of applying for the appropriate permits, Mr. Pannell changed the name of his business and attempted to get an over the counter zoning clearance. He then began to sell alcohol. This could be considered an illegal action since he knowingly and under false pretenses mislead the City to give him a zoning clearance, rather than applying for the appropriate permits. In addition, Mr. Pannell removed and replaced his chain link fence with a wrought iron fence without a fence permit. The fence was placed on the public right of way and is taller than the maximum height limit of 42 inches. This was an illegal action. Mr. Pannell also installed a new electrical line and new lighting without an appropriate building permit. Again, this is illegal. Finally, Mr. Pannell has modified and continues to modify his pole sign without the appropriate building permit.

Regarding the Mercedes, Escalades, etc. that is complete BS fabricated by one of the posters to generate discussion. Anyone who lives in the neighborhood knows that the only vehicle parked at Nic Nak is the oversized recreational vehicle that Mr. Pannell is illegally using as an office. Which by the way, the City Planning Commission has required him to remove. Whether Mr. Pannell is wealthy or not and whether he owns a Bentley or any other personal belonging is irrelevant to the legal questions at hand.

Claudia is right--much of what has been discussed in the comments of the We Fight Blight Blog has nothing to do with the legal merits of the case. Mr. Pannell's wealth, his status as a self proclaimed pillar of the community, his race, gentrification in the community, the race of those opposing the liquor sales, etc. have nothing to do with the legal merits of the case. You can thank Mr. Pannell for confusing the issues. Since his proposed liquor sales are contrary to the Oakland Planning Code, he had to use blue smoke and mirrors and fabricate irrelevant issues that would distract decision makers.

From an urban design standpoint, the intersection of Alcatraz and Shattuck is a defining intersection for the East Lorin Neighborhood. Encouraging denser, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development that takes advantage of the intersection and the transportation corridors, rather than fast food and liquor outlets that are patterned after a 1960's suburban development model is more appropriate and would better serve the neighborhood. The Nomad Cafe is one example

Mr. Pannell is living in the past. The community and the neighborhood deserve development that has vision and speaks to the future.

Anonymous said...

First off, is East Lorin Neighborhood really the new name of this part of North Oakland? Wow didn't know that. I know its always great for new things and new development. That building that Nomad Cafe is in very nice and brand new however, I know for a fact that the majority of people cant afford what is in there. Before the cafe was there it was a Antique Thrift store. this place is a perfect example of
gentrification. Food at Nomad is over priced. Too expensive for low income neighbors. How would that better serve the neighborhood? A cafe where all rich can eat free range vegan meatless food that middle to low income neighbor can not afford. How is that cafe for the neighbors and community in North Oakland (Not East Lorin) if most of the community cant even afford it? ITS ONLY FOR A SPECIFIC TYPE OF NEIGHBORS. When I use to walk to and from work there where times that I seen people smoke weed and drink coffee in the chairs while I pass by. Is that legal? Chairs blocking the sidewalk on the muffler shop side. What about people with wheelchairs? Since everyone are planners and law abiding citizens. Next question is it against the law to smoke right next to a muffler shop that has flammable equipment within. The smoke 10 feet from the muffler shop garage door. I know that's not legal. They sell beer and wine, why nobody didn't complain about that?Why nobody complained about over saturation? No planning commission or blog for that, right?
Hmmm, man it makes me think......

Fight Blight said...

The name for the East Lorin Neighborhood actually comes from the Historic Lorin District and the Lorin Station which was one stop on the trolley car system that ran throughout the East Bay at the turn of the century. So while this may be a new name to you, it is not a new name in the history of this community.


You mention that you know for a fact that the majority of people cannot afford what is sold at the Nomad Cafe. When you refer to the "majority of people" exactly who are you referring to and from what geographic area. It seems from our observation that there is a wide range of patrons at the Nomad Cafe and that for the most part it is quite busy. When you say that the Nomad is for a specific type of person in the community what does that mean?

We certainly do not disagree that certain businesses attract some people and not others. The Long-Haul, Starry Plough, La Pena, Nomad, the White Horse and Dorsey's Locker all cater to widely divergent segments of our North Oakland community of which the East Lorin Neighborhood is one part. We may not be able to afford to eat at Chez Panise, but we don't begrudge those who can afford to do so. Having a variety of businesses that cater to a variety of income levels is important. Not every business will be affordable to everyone nor should they be.

The term gentrification can be used in a negative way or a positive way. We see it more as an economic phenomena that is generated by the individual decisions of a large number of consumers in the marketplace. So to ascribe negative intentions behind this phenomena is somewhat disingenuous since it isn't any one person intentionally directing ill will towards any one segment of the community.

We have never seen anyone smoke weed and block the sidewalk at the Nomad Cafe or the near the muffler shop. Whether we like it or not, medical marijuana is the law in California and public consumption of marijuana is becoming more prevalent in Oakland and Berkeley. In fact, a cannabis buyers club is opening up on the Berkeley side of Shattuck, much to the disappointment of many residents including We Fight Blight.

Should you feel that people are inappropriately blocking the sidewalk you can report the matter to the City Code Enforcement and if you feel the smokers are creating a dangerous situation near the muffler shop you can report it to the Oakland Fire Department.

Nobody is complaining about the Nomad's sale of alcohol because it is on-site consumption that occurs with the sale of food. It is not for off-site consumption wherein people are able to purchase fortified wines like Night Train and Thunderbird, or high octane 40 ounce beers like Steel Reserve and Schlitz Malt Liquor, or the small airline bottles of hard liquor for the sole purpose of getting drunk on the streets. Many residents in the neighborhood are happy to see the Nomad, appreciate the way it does business and believes it has been a good responsible neighbor that brings more eyes on the streets in a way that deters crime. Many in the community are not interested in another liquor store since we already have 18. It's as simple as that.

This is evidenced by the large number of people who wrote in opposition of the Nic Nak and the large number of people who have donated money for the fee to appeal the Planning Commission decision to the City Council.

Anonymous said...

This is so crazy. There are so many haters on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:39pm

Care to elaborate?

Fight Blight said...


It is interesting that you choose to the use the term "hater" in reference to this blog. A good majority of people posting and responding to this blog are able to rationally articulate their opinions. Calling people "haters" simply reflects on your inability to understand and respond to the salient issues presented in the blog. Using the term only serves to reinforce an us against them mentality and to personalize this neighborhood disagreement. Because you disagree with someone's view does not make them a "hater". Perhaps you would be so kind as to point out exactly what you mean by the term "hater" and what specific sections of specific posts create a "hater" mentality? Or maybe it is easier to just call everyone a "hater". Thank you.