AG city council takes up Foods 4 Less debate

November 5, 2010

The Arroyo Grande City Council meets Tuesday night to decide whether to allow a giant Food 4 Less grocery store to be built on Grand Avenue–across the street from Spencer’s and just down the block from Von’s.

The store, being proposed for the corner of Grand and Courtland, has the official blessing of city staff, even though the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission vote 5-0 to deny the project last month.

“When you see a rendering of this huge store, proposed to be located 10 feet from the property line, next to the family residences that will be its neighbor,  you’ll agree this ‘mixed use development’ is not “compatible in size and scale to ensure preservation of the rural setting and small town character of  Arroyo Grande,” wrote grocer John Spencer in an email distributed to supporters.

Critics are suggesting that developer Nick Tompkins is pushing the Food 4 Less project in an attempt to drive the Cookie Crock grocery store, currently a tenant in his shopping center at Elm and Grand, out of business.

Cookie Crock has a long term lease in the center and has refused offers from Tompkins to buy the store out. There is speculation that the property is the possible target for redevelopment by the City and therefore more valuable.

Opponents to the Food 4 Less store, which would be about half the size of the local Wal Mart,  fear increased traffic congestion and say that Arroyo Grande doesn’t need another grocery store. Supporters argue for increased tax revenue and more jobs.

The city council meets at 7 p.m. in council chambers at 215 E. Branch Street.


I am for it.

More jobs, more tax revenue, sounds like a win win.


I say deny them any permit-FFL gave money to slim whitman for gov, a very poor choice.


As a five cities resident I would like to see a Food4Less here. I shop at Spencer’s every 2 weeks for a few items I like to buy there. I like to shop in SLO at Food4Less & Costco. I also shop at Albertson’s, Von’s and Trader Joe’s in the five cities on a equal basis. There are items I like to buy at the different grocery stores, each store has items that I only buy from that specific store.

Spencer’s has the best value deli, cold cuts, and I like their fresh baked rolls. The quality of their meat counter and produce is usually better.

Von’s is expensive, but they usually have the best deals when on sale.

Albertson’s is my favorite big brand grocery store. Their jalapeno bagels and chocolate/peanut butter ice cream are my favorites, Prices are usually fair when not on sale and they always have something I like on sale.

Costco is best for bulk items & meats.

Trader Joe’s is best for frozen fish & vegetables, cereals, breads, dairy products, and goodies.

Food4Less has, better priced produce, dry goods & frozen food items. They often have good meat sales. Their fresh made bear claws are the best!

Competition is good, let them build…..


Thanks for that Bob, but you didn’t tell us where you buy your toilet paper after all the food you have eaten!


Von’s is in Grover Beach and I assume is one of the city’s biggest generator of tax revenue for the city. Even with Von’s, Grover Beach can’t seem to keep up with street maintenance. Just drive on Oak Park from Von’s to 101 and you’ll see the holes that are starting and we haven’t had much rain yet..There may be some that would like to see the tax dollars go to AG instead of GB but not sure if that will benefit the area.

Kevin Rice

A.G.’s new councilman, TIM BROWN, has talked about sales tax revenue and “work on the Grand Avenue corridor”.

If tax dollars go to A.G., then Tim Brown might do something more positive with the streets.


He and John Wallace, that is.


I have to admit that a Food 4 Less in that area would be strange but at the same time, look at the one in Santa Maria. It is built a block from housing and there is an Albertson’s right across the street.. Von’s isn’t going to have any problems surviving. That place has business coming out of it’s ears.. As per the Strip Mall across the street, Spencer’s was not the first market in that location. The stores in that strip mall have turned over many times As for the strip mall where Cookie Crock is, that could use a going over. Now that place is an eye sore. If you really want to make the argument about too many things, why is there two Ride Aid’s and a Longs Drug all within a few blocks of each other. Now that one doesn’t make any sense.


What do the zoning requirements dictate? Or, are there zoning requirements in AG?


Food 4 less is called that for a reason, and its not just cause the food is cheaper. In the same fashion Wallmart is king of cheap imported goods, Food 4 less is the king of its equavelant in food products. Spencers, Vons and the rest will survive just fine.


Atascadero has a Food4Less and a Spencer’s Market within 3 blocks of each other and coexist quite well. One doesn’t have to cause the demise of the other.


True enough but this situation is different for two reasons. One, Spencer’s was specifically sought after and invited into the city by the council. Secondly, there is a Von’s market within a few hundred feet – and across the street in Grover – from Spencer’s Market and the Cookie Crock Market is just three blocks away to the east. That would make four supermarkets within blocks of each other.


I’ve had this debate with a friend of mine. She thinks that it’s the owners right to put whatever they want on their property and that the city needs to approve it. I feel the city needs to approve what is good not just for that landowner but for the other residents and business owners as well. What’s the city going to do with that big empty building when they approve this project, that big empty building that is the current Spencers. This might even take out Vons. City planning is their job and having a big vacant commercial building is an eyesore and would be bad for the other businesses in that strip mall. With a F4L there, what will go into Spencers space, not a market. No doubt Spencers will have to close that store if this is approved.


It’s not government’s job to interfere with trade. Does the proposed structure meet code? If it does then approve it. If it does not then make them change it. It’s not up to the gov’t to safeguard any business by denying another.


I get that argument but I feel that it’s not that simple. It’s the city govs job to not allow their city to get run down. It’s a terrible thing for a neighborhood to have an empty anchor store. I’ve seen it happen in other areas and I’ve seen it cause decreases in home values. Also, those little stores in the shopping centers depend on those anchor stores for their businesses. This most definitely will have a negative impact on three strip malls in that area. IMO the city council should be there to approve or disapprove issues like this that can negatively effect property values, cause unemployment and cause blight. Plus, a few weeks ago I was involved in an accident on that corner (Courtland and Grand). I don’t believe that intersections in that area can support the impact on the traffic in that area and I’ve learned that you can’t always trust the cities traffic studies. They need to come up with and ordinance/zoning regarding distance between like businesses that are over a certain square footage. All of these issues need and hopefully will be studied and hopefully you’ll be wrong.