Welcome to the coast, Peet’s

Months after residents were up in arms over a Peet’s Coffee and Tea taking over a spot left by a longtime coffee shop, the city officially welcomed the java giant into its borders Wednesday.

Peet’s takes over space left by Coastside Gourmet Coffee and Chai, which vacated the spot at 142 San Mateo Road because of costly rent. The coffee and tea purveyor also took over a Laundromat store next door, which further riled residents because it left only one such business in all of Half Moon Bay, city Planning Director Steve Flint said.

While some cities, including Half Moon Bay, had flirted with the idea of a moratorium on coffee shops or “big box” stores such as Costco, the city decided not to employ such rules in the coastal economy, Flint said.

“We don’t control the market,” Flint said. “We looked seriously at some of what other cities had done with their ordinances, but we just didn’t go that route.”

Some local residents, including KevinLansing, have been vocal about their anti-Peet’s stances at city meetings and online forums. Many of them say the Peet’s opening is an open invitation for chain stores to burst into the coastal community, which has continually prided itself on its dedication to small, locally-owned businesses.

A balance in the local economy is key in keeping the city quaint, chamber President and CEO Charise Hale McHugh said. The chamber would probably be inclined to speak out against big box stores that would not be appropriate for the coastside, but Peet’s has already integrated itself into the community, McHugh said.

A Starbucks opened approximately four years ago in Half Moon Bay, and, based on a positive experience with the ubiquitous coffee chain and discussions with officials at Peet’s, McHugh said she has a good feeling about the company making inroads in Half Moon Bay.

“I think of Peet’s as the right fit,” McHugh said. “I don’t want to see Half Moon Bay lose its uniqueness. We don’t want to have the same stores you find in every other city in America, but it’s all about balance.”

tramroop@examiner.com

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