Sonoma: Now serving Peet’s Coffee

The subject of Peet’s Coffee was back on the front burner Monday night as the city council unanimously approved a new location at 591 Broadway.

The 5-0 vote overturned an earlier denial by the city’s planning commission. The council ruled that the outlet meets key conditions of the city’s formula store ordinance: it will add to the area’s diversity and variety, and not detract from Sonoma’s historical character.

“There’s nothing about the ordinance that would prohibit this,” said Councilmember Steve Barbose. “This is not a McDonalds or a Taco Bell,”

The store will be located in an existing commercial building, though its final exterior design and signage must be approved by the Design Review Committee.

Mayor Joann Sanders filed the appeal on behalf of the Emeryville-based company despite, she said, her opposition to the ordinance. “I agree, this is a formula store,” she said, but one that will enhance the Broadway retail corridor while providing jobs with notable employee benefits. “That said, it does all these good things.”

Opponents were steamed over potential traffic congestion, pedestrian safety and the economic threat Peet’s might have on nearby coffee shops.

Fans of Peet’s cited the company’s excellent product and it’s record of civic responsibility. Furthermore, agreed Councilmember Tom Rouse, the Broadway location will draw foot traffic from the Plaza. “This will bring people down the street,” he said. “It’s a great anchor.”

Increased business means more tax money to the city, said Councilmember Ken Brown. “The figure is not insignificant.”

Peet’s was founded in Berkeley in 1966 in Berkeley, and maintains its corporate headquarters in Emeryville. The company, now with over 200 stores, was taken private in July by a German conglomerate for about $1 billion.


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