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Zoning Variance to Allow Sale of Both Gas, Alcohol Is Denied

November 20, 1986|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Glendale's zoning administrator has denied a gasoline station's request to continue selling both gasoline and alcoholic beverages when a city ordinance banning such dual sales goes into effect next year.

The ban on combined sales was adopted by the Glendale City Council in April. Seven businesses will be forced to shut down their gasoline pumps or quit selling alcohol as of May 28.

Charlie Mussalli, who has operated a gasoline station and market at 466 W. Broadway for two years, had asked for a variance permitting him to continue selling beer and wine along with gasoline. Mussalli maintained that his business will be sharply curtailed if he cannot continue combined sales.

But Zoning Administrator John McKenna last week denied Mussalli's request, saying that granting an exception "would be contrary to the objectives of the ordinance."

Appeals Planned

Mussalli said he will appeal the ruling to the Board of Zoning Appeals and, if necessary, to the City Council. He has until Nov. 26 to file for a new hearing.

A statewide coalition of convenience store owners filed suit in August against Glendale and several other California cities, seeking to overturn bans on alcohol sales at gasoline stations. Court action on the suits is pending.

About 40 other cities in the state have ordinances prohibiting combined sales, according to attorneys for the statewide Food and Fuel Retailers for Economic Equality, which represents about 3,000 convenience store operators. However, most cities have permitted businesses that sold both gasoline and liquor before laws changed to continue doing so, the retailers' attorneys said.

When Glendale adopted its ordinance, City Council members said they wanted the city clearly on record as opposed to mixing drinking and driving.

Mussalli, who is acting independent of the coalition's suit, said the ordinance unfairly discriminates against his business. He said he entered into a 10-year lease two years ago and converted the station's garage into a market. He is in competition with three other stores at the corner of Broadway and Pacific Avenue that sell liquor.

Big Increase in Sales

Mussalli said his market sales increased dramatically after he began selling beer and wine in July, 1985. Although beer and wine sales account for about 17% of his profit, Mussalli said, his total sales have increased because customers who stop for alcoholic beverages also buy other items. He argues that his customers will do their marketing elsewhere if they cannot buy beer and wine at the station.

City officials counter that Mussalli has the option of not selling gasoline. Mussalli, however, said gasoline sales are the basis of his business. He declined to say what percentage of his profit comes from gasoline sales.

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