Changes for a familiar location?

The Fairmont Shopping Center considers some new uses. Adam Pardee / Tribune

Gun stores and cannabis shops were two of the new uses that would have been conditionally allowed in Fairmont Shopping Center’s new development plan discussed at a recent Pacifica Planning Commission meeting, but the commissioners decided not to allow them.

A new updated development plan for Fairmont Shopping Center passed Planning Commission Sept. 7. It still requires City Council approval. The shopping center was last reviewed for a development plan in 1982.

“The proposed development plan and master use list would support successful operation of the existing Fairmont Shopping Center,” said Jacob Garcia, contract planner. “Minor additional uses would be allowed at the shopping center based on current market conditions and evolving commercial uses since the last comprehensive update to the city’s C-2 (community commercial) zoning regulations in 1982.”

The Fairmont Shopping Center is a 7.5-acre commercial development located at Hickey Boulevard and Gateway Drive. There are 29 commercial spaces for retail, restaurants and personal services, said Garcia. Safeway and Rite-Aid are the anchor tenants. It provides a total of 346 parking spaces.

Several speakers asked expressly that gun sales and cannabis shops not be allowed. The Planning Commission agreed, stating the proximity to Sunset Ridge Elementary School made the shopping center inappropriate for either use. In addition, Pacifica City Council decided no more than six cannabis shops should be in Pacifica, and there are already six approved in other locations.

Commissioner Samantha Hauser said the permitted use of a child care center in Fairmont Shopping Center should preclude cannabis and gun sales as well.

Fairmont Shopping Center was developed in the mid-1960s to serve adjacent neighborhoods. A prior property owner did extensive renovations in 2015 that included facade renovations to accommodate Safeway, Garcia said. Rite Aid was renovated in 2019. The current owner purchased the property in 2019.

The new owner seeks a development plan to ensure its operation is compliant with the Pacifica municipal code, Garcia said.

Since 1982, the types of uses at Fairmont Shopping Center changed. The use list contains contemporary and anticipated uses, Garcia said. The owner provided a traffic study and parking space study to support the new uses.

Some permitted uses are by right and require no more hearings, Garcia said. Others are conditional and would review discretionary review, Garcia said.

Permitted uses are retail uses, personal services, massage establishments, banks, family entertainment, art galleries, pet care, child care, educational centers, professional offices, administrative offices, restaurants, vet hospitals, auto repair, e-commerce pickup within an enclosed building, renewable energy structures, outdoor seating, Garcia said.

Conditional uses could be dog and cat boarding, fitness clubs, family entertainment, cannabis retail or cannabis testing operation, car washes, theater, firearms sales, drive-through operations, a residential unit above the commercial tenants and an outdoor seating area, Garcia said.

Commissioner David Leal asked if all the shops meet the permitted uses. All do, except for Advance America, a payday loan company.

Vehicle and boat sales would be allowed indoors, Garcia said. A cap would be set on how many restaurants and food-related uses will be permitted and establish standards for outdoor dining areas, Garcia said. The restaurants occupy 20,000 square feet. If established, outdoor dining would be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Garcia said.

The master use list will allow solar panels, energy storage devices, electrical vehicle charging stations and other alternative energy structures, said Garcia. E-commerce pickup areas will be allowed, such as for Amazon Lockers. Short 15-minute parking spaces will be established for rideshare pickup and other uses, Garcia said.

The traffic study showed 3 percent increase on the weekdays and 9 percent increase on the weekend given the new permitted uses, Garcia said. Of 346 parking spaces, only 287 spaces were used on a peak weekend, Garcia said.

One speaker criticized the traffic study saying the area is already seeing issues with exiting the center and the queue backup from so many cars. The traffic analyst said all the worst-case scenarios were all studied before COVID-19. Commissioners agreed they never had a problem parking at Fairmont Shopping Center but did experience a backup when exiting.

The center has a 93 percent occupancy rate and provides 200 jobs, according to an owner from First Washington Realty. The owner said he seeks the planned development so young professionals can move into a vibrant Fairmont Shopping Center. 

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