Apparently Nipomo is about to get another card room, i.e., a poker parlour if you will. The Adobe Press reports:
Poker is coming to Nipomo.
With a 3-2 vote last Thursday, the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission approved a four-table, nonalcoholic card room for the CVS shopping center on West Tefft Street.
The new establishment will be located in the space formerly inhabited by California Fresh, between a salon and Art of Flowers.
The room will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.
The approval wasn’t backed by 4th District Planning Commissioner Eugene Mehlschau, who represents Nipomo and had concerns with bringing a card room back to the community.
Valid concerns I would say. The last time Nipomo had a gambling card room, things didn’t always go too well:
A card room existed on Thompson Road in Nipomo that was the site of a shooting in 1991 and also attracted an “unsavory class of people that spilled out onto the street,” Mehlschau said.
“My concern is that (this establishment) will end up like that one,” Mehlschau said. “To add a card room there isn’t appropriate, and granting a variance to do it, I have problems with.”
So, not only did the planning commission approve this poker room for Nipomo, they actually had to grant a variance in order to do so:
To open the proposed card room in the shopping center, the commissioners needed to waive the county’s distance-standard that requires a card room be located at least 300 feet from any parcel where a religious facility is located.
Lighthouse Christian Center is located on Tefft Street, 285 feet from the proposed card room.
Because the card room is located in an existing commercial plaza not facing the church, with the post office between the two parcels, county planning staff recommended approving the waiver.
There’s a church just two buildings away. Clearly the planners did not have to grant this variance. There did not appear to be any good reason for the variance. The proposed location for this card room is right in the middle of Nipomo’s prime commericial district. It is next door to an Italian Restaurant on one side and a floral shop on the other. The next building on one side is a CVS Pharmacy, and on the other is a United States Post Office, with a church next to that.
What on earth were these planners thinking when approving a card room? Where does it fit in with any of these businesses?
The Tribune also reported on this story:
A divided county Planning Commission gave the go-ahead Thursday for a card room in Nipomo after an hour-long hearing in which some community residents said it would bring the wrong type of people to town and sully Nipomo’s image.
Commissioners Anne Wyatt, Sarah Christie and Penny Rappa voted for the facility in a shopping center at 622 West Tefft St. Bob Roos and Gene Mehlschau opposed it.
“It’s a gambling establishment,” one Nipomo resident said. “I just don’t see that this type of business is going to enhance our community.”
“This is the shining light of our commercial district,” Mehlschau said.
“These places are predatory businesses and prey on the weak and gullible,” Mike Winn of Nipomo said last week. “It’s a sleazy type of business.”
Mike Winn is right. This is a sleazy business. Gene is also right: It is going right in the middle of our commercial district, which is completely out of character for the business district. The old Nipomo card room was clear on the east side of Nipomo, next to a bar and nowhere near the now downtown commercial district. The planners who voted for this fiasco include: Commissioners Anne Wyatt, Sarah Christie and Penny Rappa.
Sarah Christie’s rationalization for her vote was priceless:
Christie said she might be naïve, but “I just don’t see the dangerous, nefarious criminal potential.” She noted that “people of all classes pursue cards” and that the Chamber of Commerce supports the Nipomo card room.
Other gambling, such as the Lottery and horse racing, are legal, Christie said.
Christie added that when she hears opponents making their case based on phrases like “these people” and “that element” and other “emotionally charged testimony” it makes her nervous because the decision is supposed to be about land use.
She doesn’t see the dangerous criminal potential? Has she been to any gambling establishment recently? The fact they are requiring a security guard until the place closes at 2:00 a.m. speaks volumes. What is Christie thinking here?
The Chamber supports the card room? That’s news to me. When did the Nipomo Chamber take a stand and support this card room? Was this an official vote by the board? Very interesting. I’ll be following up with the Chamber to see what their official response is.
Sure horse racing and the lottery are legal, but not anything like a card room here in the commericial district of Nipomo. This was an extremely poor decision by the planning commission. It emphasizes the need for Nipomo’s incorporation. Here, three individuals who have no ties at all to Nipomo have decided to plop a card room right in the middle of town. They don’t care. They don’t live here, work here, or do anything here. When did they even last visit Nipomo?
It is telling indeed that two individuals quoted by the Tribune who do have ties to Nipomo were absolutley against this card room: Mike Winn, currently an NCSD Board Member and Gene Mehlschau planning commissioner from Nipomo. The people who know the community best, were and are against this ridiculous idea. If San Luis Obispo County wants another card room in the community, have them put it in downtown San Luis Obispo–not Nipomo.
Update 12/23/98: I liked this letter from Pat Sullivan printed in a past edition of the Adobe Press:
Greater needs than a cardroom
To the Editor:
Nipomo needs a card room like it needs another gang-related incident or pawn shop.
What Nipomo really needs is a multipurpose community center, a Spencer’s Market, a Food 4 Less or New Frontiers to compete with Vons, where one has the opportunity to buy a jar of mustard for $4.57, and Nipomo needs a second freeway access.