Mi Pueblo update: Mayor to ask council to appeal decision

The colors for the Mi Pueblo Food Centers are typically pink,

Mayor Al Pinheiro will motion to place an appeal on the City
Council agenda concerning the Gilroy Planning Commission’s recent
decision to let Mi Pueblo keep its bright facade.
Mayor Al Pinheiro will motion to place an appeal on the City Council agenda concerning the Gilroy Planning Commission’s recent decision to let Mi Pueblo keep its bright facade.

After watching the Planning Commission’s Oct. 7 meeting, Pinheiro said he decided to bring the issue to the Oct. 18 Council meeting because the commission had not properly questioned whether the Hispanic foods store chain was complying with city code.

“I felt that, as I watched the Commission, that there needed to be further discussion about the existing code and whether or not the colors were in harmony and to stay away from things like how many jobs it brings,” Pinheiro said.

Section 51.50 of the Zoning Ordinance allows the City Council to appeal a decision made by the planning commission within 20 days, but it’s not common for the Council to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision, Pinheiro said.

City Clerk Shawna Freels said she hasn’t received more than three appeals in her three-year tenure.

“My predecessor may have had more,” she said. “He was here during height of building. It’s a different time now. The Planning Department doesn’t have as much business as they used to.”

Freels said the public can also appeal a planning commission decision.

It requires at least one written sentence and a $200 fee paid to city staff for processing. She said no support material is required for the appeal. The City Council can appeal by motion and is not required to pay a fee to city staff.

After butting heads repeatedly with Gilroy Planning Department Manager David Bischoff over City Zoning Ordinance Section 50.44, Mi Pueblo decided to appeal to the Gilroy Planning Commission. The ordinance requires any building planned to be harmonious with the adjacent development.

At issue was the Planning Department’s claim that the Hispanic foods store’s bright cranberry, yellow and blue corporate color scheme was out of place with the all-beige stores on the 700 block of First Street in Gilroy.

The result of the Planning Commission meeting was a 5-2 vote to approve Mi Pueblo’s appeal.

The San Jose-based Hispanic foods chain has 17 locations throughout Northern California with $2.8 million invested in the Gilroy store.

Perla Rodriguez, the public relations representative for the grocery store, said the business is currently hiring 150 people from the area and most people are happy to see a new business come to Gilroy.

Despite all of this, the commission added a requirement that Mi Pueblo has to reach out to some of their disgruntled neighbors and come up with an acceptable color scheme.

Pinheiro mirrored the sentiments of Loretta Ventura, from Looking Good Salon, who brought a petition to the Planning Commission with the signatures of six out of 12 mall tenants and 24 others who disagree with the Mi Pueblo colors.

Ventura said the meeting contained little discussion about the ordinance and sidetracked too much on the economic benefits of the store.

“The ordinance is written for a reason,” she said. “We can all come in to town and say we can do good for the community, but that is not a reason to give you what you want. I mean, I need sunglasses to walk past the store.”

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