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Convenience Store Owners Sue to Overturn Ban

September 04, 1986|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

A statewide coalition of convenience store owners has filed suits against Glendale and six other California cities seeking to overturn ordinances banning the sale of gasoline and alcohol at the same outlet.

The Food and Fuel Retailers for Economic Equality, a coalition representing about 3,000 convenience stores in the state, filed suit against Glendale last week in Superior Court in Pasadena.

The Glendale City Council in April adopted an ordinance prohibiting the sale of all liquor, including beer and wine, at any business that also sells gasoline. Seven businesses in Glendale were affected and given until May, 1987, to stop selling either gasoline or liquor. No new businesses selling the combination are permitted. Among those affected is a 7-Eleven store which is a member of the coalition and this year had installed gasoline pumps in front of the convenience store.

Law Is Retroactive

Les Hausrath, an Oakland attorney representing the coalition, said Glendale was among those targeted for the suit because its law is retroactive. About 40 other cities in California have ordinances banning the combined sales, but most of those permit the stores already selling both to continue doing so, he said.

Hausrath said the owner of the 7-Eleven at 843 W. Glenoaks Blvd. in Glendale had spent in excess of $175,000 to install gasoline pumps and would be "unfairly penalized" if it is forced to remove the pumps within such a short period of time.

However, Glendale City Atty. Frank Manzano said Wednesday that the one-year cutoff period is "sufficient enough time to readjust" to provisions of the ordinance. He said the ordinance does not ban the sale of either liquor or gasoline but states that merchants "have a choice--they can sell one or the other."

Over the past few months, suits also were filed against the cities of Berkeley and Lafayette in Northern California and the cities of Santa Paula, Costa Mesa, Garden Grove and Los Alamitos in Southern California.

The coalition alleges in the suits that the ordinances are discriminatory and violate due process because they single out one group of retailers for special restrictions, while not affecting competitors such as grocery stores and liquor stores. The seven suits are the first challenges to the ordinances since cities began adopting them two years ago, Hausrath said. He said no ruling has been made on any of the suits.

Glendale adopted its ordinance at the urging of parents, teachers and community leaders who said the sale of alcohol at gas stations makes liquor easily available to young drivers.

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