An incoming 7-Eleven store on a neglected parcel across the street from Thousand Oaks High School has raised the ire of some residents in the bedroom community.
According to a Thousand Oaks Acorn report, neighbors and parents have flooded City Hall with emails and calls, voicing their concerns regarding the proposed convenience store and gas station, to be built on an empty lot at 2198 N. Moorpark Road. Opponents view the 7-Eleven as a poorly placed invitation to crime, traffic and unhealthy food choices.
Some residents, however, have supported the idea of creating a convenience store on the nearly 20,000-square-foot lot, which has sat vacant for 13 years and is something of an eyesore currently covered with dead grass and surrounded by a chain-link fence.
According to City Planner Matt Chang, the parcel has been a challenge to develop because of the single-family homes surrounding the lot on three sides.
Meanwhile, the idea of a 7-Eleven has become such a bone of contention with “not in my backyard” or NIMBY, advocates that residents have taken to the internet to form an online website with a petition dedicated to halting the project.
Despite the agreement by developer Megdal Thousand Oaks LLC — after a conversation with Thousand Oaks High’s Principal Eric Bergmann — not to sell alcohol, e-cigarettes or vape juice at this particular 7-Eleven, some residents on the website believe it would not be difficult or take long for the convenience store’s owner to reverse the promise and pursue a license to sell alcohol and tobacco.
Locals overall expressed their displeasure regarding the potential for a convenience store, ranging from easy access to alcohol and tobacco products, to becoming a magnet for undesirables just a stone’s throw from a school.
“A 24-hour business will bring noise, traffic, crime and unwanted people to a residential neighborhood. I live less than a block away and absolutely do not want this in my neighborhood,” wrote one resident.
“We could have so many other good options to have on that corner besides 7-11. [Teen] obesity rates are at an all-time high,” wrote another.
As of Monday afternoon, 557 people had signed the online petition, so far falling short of the organizers’ 1,000-signature goal.
However, Chang said the city of Thousand Oaks shares the community’s sentiment about the 7-Eleven.
“The staff is leaning toward not supporting the project,” Chang told the Business Journal, largely because of its round-the-clock hours of operation. Such hours, he said, would not only have an “adverse impact” to the nearby high school, but is incompatible with the hours of operation designated to a commercial plaza to the north and a medical plaza to the south.
“We also have a concern about a gas station,” Chang continued, explaining that the previous fuel stop on the site was approved in 1968 before more stringent regulations and criteria arrived in 1972. “(The 7-Eleven’s gas station) would not fit the criteria,” Chang said.
Before the project can advance, Megdal must acquire a special-use permit after a review by the planning commission. A hearing on the project is scheduled for Oct. 22.