Target gets OK to extend hours, sell beer, liquor

The Target Store on Main Street in Watsonville has changed its color scheme from red and white to brown and white. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE   The Watsonville Planning Commission on Tuesday voted 4-2 to approve changes to Target’s liquor license and hours of operation.

In the near future Target will be able to sell wine, beer and liquor and stay open into 11 p.m.

The decision won’t go into effect until about a month after the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control receives the approval, a representative from Target said.

Commissioners Jenna Rodriguez and Anna Kammer both voted no. The extended hours and over-concentration of alcohol-related businesses in the area were a problem for both commissioners.

“I have to advocate from my district, the 5th district, and I do have great concerns about the extended hours,” Kammer said.

According to the Watsonville Police Department, Target is in a high-crime area and the neighborhood is over-concentrated with off-sale alcohol businesses. There are nine alcohol-related businesses within a quarter-mile radius. Five are “bonafide restaurants” that serve beer and wine, three are stores that can sell beer and wine and one carries a general license that allows the sell of all types of alcohol.

WPD Capt. David Rodriguez said the over-concentration and high crime designations were a bit misleading in Target’s case. 

Since January 2018 there have been roughly 300 calls for service in the area, but only a very small percentage were related to Target, Rodriguez said. Sixty-eight of those calls were attributed to Target, and only one — an incident of an intoxicated man loitering after hours — was alcohol related. 

Additionally, Target has twice passed a Minor Decoy Test administered by the WPD.

“The complete package for us is that they’re responsible operators,” Rodriguez said. “They work very well with us…We’re in full support of [the changes].”

Target has sold wine since 2009, but in a letter written to the planning commission the corporation said it would like to become a one-stop-shop for its consumers — something it has already started to push with the recent upgrades to its grocery section. 

“Adding beer and distilled spirits will offer customers a more complete shopping experience and will provide a convenience to Target’s customers by eliminating the need for an additional shopping trip,” the letter read.

Kammer, however, disagreed with the decision to extend the store’s hours, saying she was afraid a later closing time would further compound the area’s troubles with a “loud” street racing community that uses the parking lot of the shopping center as a meet-up location. 

“[The shopping center] tends to be a magnet for this activity,” she said.

Rodriguez said WPD has heard those concerns in the past, and has stepped up enforcement in the area. Recently, officers conducted an operation in the shopping center’s parking lot and towed away a few cars that were illegally modified, Rodriguez said. 

“We will continue to be vigilant in that area,” he said.

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