The South Pasadena Planning Commission has approved Domino’s Pizza LLC’s application for a Conditional Use Permit to operate a takeout and delivery service store at 1017 Fair Oaks Ave.

From left, Planning Commission Chair Steven Dahl, Commissioner Kris Morrish, Secretary Janet Braun, and Council Liaison, Councilwoman Dr. Marina Khubesrian at Monday evening’s public hearing. Photo by Harry Yadav

Dozens of residents turned out for the Planning Commission’s Monday night meeting to hear the commissioners weigh in on the application, with three citizens speaking publicly to discourage the group from granting the permit. They cited the various pizza businesses and many “mom and pop shops” already in operation along Fair Oaks and Mission Street as potential victims of yet another pizza chain, and spoke to the city’s developing and long-time aesthetic.

The Domino’s Pizza location will occupy a vacant storefront directly north of the historic Rialto Theatre, which was also approved as the location of Mosaic Church – slated to accommodate up to 700 people – during the meeting. With the approval of the CUP for Domino’s Pizza, the building housing the chain will now devote 20 percent of its space to restaurant use.

Edwar Sissi
Photo by Harry Yadav

As a staff report provided by Assistant Planner Edwar Sissi detailed, Domino’s Pizza will have extended operating hours of 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Six employees will be working at the business during peak hours, identified as 6 to 7 p.m., and will be the main users of the parking located in the back of the building. The store will not have a dine-in option for customers, operating only as a takeout and delivery service. Employees will be making a couple of deliveries or seven to 12 depending on their defined shifts.

Sissi said the corporation hired a consultant to conduct a parking study, which found the store to be in compliance with the number of spaces needed for the size and use of the space. During the meeting, Commission members questioned the relevance of the study, seeing as the spaces will likely not be occupied by customers given the nature of the business. Planning Commission Secretary Janet Braun also found issue with the business being labeled as a restaurant, based on its business model.

“I have many, many, many questions,” Braun said. “I fundamentally don’t understand how you can call it a restaurant when there are going to be no tables…we really should be concerned about the drivers who are going to be coming in and out behind that proposed use.

“We’re going to have 700 people next door and this is running until one in the morning on Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight Sundays through Thursdays,” Braun continued, referring to Mosaic Church.

Long-time community member and business owner Ellen Daigle, who began the meeting with a reflection on family and business over the years in South Pasadena, took a moment to voice her concerns for future city growth.

“I’m a 54-year resident and a business owner for 30 years, it’s always been a wonderful opportunity here in South Pasadena,” Daigle said. “I’ve enjoyed watching the community grow into a very diverse community…but I’m concerned as to how things are going. I’d like to see that we’re a community that serves everybody well, everybody gets a fair shake and opportunity to grow.”

A Domino’s Pizza representative who attended the meeting said this location would replace an Eagle Rock location “to better serve our customers.” The representative also said takeout accounts for about 30 percent of their business, with the rest dependent on delivery requests.

“We’re delivering a lot of pizzas in South Pasadena already, so we’re hoping you’ll give us a chance,” he said.

South Pasadena resident Bianca Richards vehemently opposed the Domino’s manager’s prosposal. “I think we do need to take a step back,” Richards told the commission. “We’re spending a lot of money on this General plan and I think we want to make Fair Oaks something more interesting.”

Vice-Chair Kelly Koldus said the block “needs help” with regard to lighting and said it may “activate the street.” She also pointed out that the building is owned not by the city, but by the owners of Ai Japanese Restaurant and Bar, who identified Domino’s as being amenable prospective tenants.

The commission eventually approved the permit after discussion in a 4-to-1 vote, with Braun casting the lone vote of dissent.

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