The original headline of this article contained information that was unclear and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.
Westwood’s CityTarget will begin selling alcohol in the fall, after a yearlong battle with the Westwood community and neighborhood councils to get a license to sell liquor.
At a hearing on Aug. 2, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to overturn a previous ruling from the Los Angeles Department of City Planning banning alcohol from the store’s racks. The initial April 2012 decision denied Westwood’s CityTarget, a smaller version of a traditional Target store, a license for off-site consumption of alcohol.
The store will carry beer, wine and liquor after obtaining a license from the state, said Anne Christensen, a spokesperson for Target. She said she does not know yet when exactly alcohol will hit CityTarget’s shelves, but it will be in the next few months.
California Alcohol Beverage Control guidelines recommend an allowance of five off-site alcohol licenses for Westwood, all of which are currently in use, according to state records.
CityTarget will be the sixth site in Westwood to receive an off-site alcohol license, joining chain stores Ralphs, Trader Joe’s, Rite Aid, Whole Foods and Bristol Farms.
In order to grant CityTarget’s request, the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission needed to determine the license as a public convenience or necessity. In a 3-1 vote, the commission found the addition of alcoholic beverages to CityTarget’s products would be a convenience to customers, according to city records.
In February , the Westwood neighborhood and community councils adopted a resolution disputing the provision of the license. The document cites public health concerns and Target’s close proximity to three alcohol-licensed stores as explanations for their opposition, among other reasons.
“We are extremely disappointed and discouraged that Target and Councilman Paul Koretz refused to listen to the Westwood community,” said Steven Saan, chair of the Westwood Community Council .
At the hearing, Koretz said the approval of a license for Target would not have much effect on the Westwood community. Koretz’s office did not respond to statement requests from the Daily Bruin.
Westwood leaders were not alone in attendance at the hearing. Other members of the community showed up to voice their concerns about the possible effects of the license on the area.
Thirty-five members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union attended the meeting to protest the decision. The union represents employees at Ralphs and Rite Aid in Westwood.
Michael Straeter, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers chapter, argued against the license because of the financial impact it may have on union employees.
“Every dollar’s worth of spirits sold at the Target department store is a dollar less for our union employees,” Straeter said.
Target representative Beth Aboulafia also testified at the hearing, and said alcohol sales account for about 1 percent of Target’s profit.
Ryan Krebs, a member of the Westwood Neighborhood Council and a UCLA alumnus, said he opposes the decision to allow CityTarget to sell alcoholic drinks. Though he described himself as a regular Target customer, Krebs said Target should carry products not easily found in Westwood rather than alcohol.
“Public necessities are items not readily available, not (alcohol) that you could easily walk over to Ralphs and buy,” he said.
The decision to grant CityTarget an alcohol license has garnered mixed reactions from students.
“I think it’ll bring a lot more business to Target,” said Caroline Wilson, a third-year economics student, who said she felt enthusiastic about the new license.
Sarah Purkrabek, a third-year philosophy student, said she wasn’t sure how she felt about CityTarget selling alcoholic beverages.
“I don’t think that (the license) is necessary, but it could make the lives of students easier if they could get everything they want in one place,” she said.
Clarification: Westwood CityTarget was granted approval to sell alcohol.