The Fairfax council agreed, ironically on (July 11, get it?), to keep the 7-Eleven at Bolinas and Park Roads open 24 hours, despite a neighbor’s complaint about noise.
However, the council didn’t entirely ignore Misty Moreno, who lives adjacent to the store on Park Road. Moreno said her personal experience is that there’s more noise when the store is open around the clock. “People talking in front of 7-Eleven interfere with our sleep.”
The council will have future say in what else can be done to reduce the sound bothering Moreno, who filed an appeal to have the store return to its past hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The convenience shop, at 150 Bolinas Road, started operating 24 hours a day more than a year ago, after getting the May 2011 blessing of the Fairfax planning commissioners -- who held three public hearings on the impact of the extended hours.
LESS NOISE COMPLAINTS WHEN OPEN 24 HOURS
Fairfax Police Chief Christopher Morin told the Fairfax council there were less noise complaints reported to the police between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the last year when 7-Eleven was open 24-hours compared to the year before. See the complete data of all the 7-Eleven related police incidents in the attached PDF of the staff report.
From the police standpoint, Morin said, keeping the store open 24 hours isn’t an issue. “There were more noise problems when it was closed. I think it’s a benefit to the community for those who need the service. It’s certainly a benefit to staff who are working 24/7.”
Morin also said there are “hundreds” of police incidents that occur in the area, especially near park, that have nothing to do with the 7-Eleven at all.
“I have a hard time ignoring the reports of our police and saying one resident hast the way to make [the law],” said Mayor Pam Hartwell-Herrero.
HUNDREDS ORIGINALLY SUPPORTED THE EXTENDED HOURS
Part of the extended-hours agreement Raj Uppal, owner of the Bolinas Road 7-Eleven franchisee, made with the planning commission was to install security cameras and put up a chain fence preventing parking right next to Moreno’s home during the night.
Store officials also agreed to not sell alcohol after midnight, install native water-conserving landscaping and only have deliveries take place during daytime hours.
“We have done everything in our power to do whatever we can do to accommodate our neighbor,” Uppal told the council on July 11.
Uppal said that the store, which employees five Fairfax residents, decided to extend its hours after several requests from customers.
When the 7-Eleven first began efforts to extend hours in 2011, more than 200 residents signed a petition in support. Also, 12 residents submitted form letters to the council in May asking to have the store remain open 24 hours.
“If we have a business open 24 hours … there isn’t a better spot for it than across from the police station,” said resident Mimi Newton at the council meeting.
SEARCHING FOR A COMPROMISE
Councilman David Weinsoff was in favor of changing the store’s hours back to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., but didn’t find support from his colleagues. (Councilman Larry Bragman wasn’t at the meeting.)
A few, including Weinsoff, made the point that the town already has a 7-Eleven open around the clock on Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Resident Mark Bell suggested the council look at other ways the store can lessen sound that travels next door.
Some council members agreed.
“There’s one person affected by this and more than 100 people, with much less to loose, who use the store,” said Councilman Ryan O’Neil, who served on the planning commission when it approved the 24-hour permit. “The 7-Eleven franchise has done an amazing amount of give in trying to make this work,” O’Neil said. “I think we should continue to try to make it work better, in the theme of working together.”
Vice Mayor John Reed said that the Park Road residents are already living in a loud section of town, “being right outside the park.”
“Perhaps we have not exhausted the mitigating measures available to us,” Reed said. “There are a lot of people this is convenient for. You’ve got to balance things out.”
The council denied Moreno’s appeal and agreed to have staff bring back to the council, in September, possible mitigating measures that can be done to further minimize noise.