Land Park Starbucks: Security concerns lead to closure

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A man walks past a Starbucks coffee shop on his way back to his car after reading a sign on the door of the recently closed Jamba Juice store at 1429B Broadway in Sacramento in July. Starbucks announced that the store was closing.

nlevine@sacbee.com

A Starbucks at 15th and Broadway in Sacramento’s Land Park area was closed by the coffee chain due to neighborhood safety concerns, a first for the company in the northern half of California.

Company management last month empowered local officials to take steps to make stores safer, including closing problematic locations as a last resort, company spokesman Sam Jefferies.

The store at 1429 Broadway closed at 6 p.m. Thursday night, just a day after staff at an emergency meeting were told the location was “going dark”.

The store is next to a homeless encampment and what neighbors say is an open-air drug market, and is in a mall where there are numerous calls for the police.

Starbucks says it closes stores for safety reasons when there is no other alternative, making the Sacramento location one of fewer than 20 in the US, out of about 9,000 locations businesses, deemed too dangerous to remain open.

“Our stores are windows to America and every day our partners witness the challenges facing our communities – challenges to personal safety and security, racism, a growing mental health crisis and issues amplified by COVID,” Jefferies said in a statement to The Bee. “These challenges play out in our stores – affecting our partners, our communities and our customers.”

The store was already considered a high-incident store by Starbucks and was operating using heightened security measures. Starbucks had removed store seating and closed its bathrooms to the public even as it reopened other Sacramento-area stores in the spring of 2021. The location had no walk-through windows.

Other nationwide closures

In mid-July, Starbucks announced it was closing 16 stores at the end of the month due to security concerns, including six in greater Los Angeles; six in greater Seattle; two in Portland, Oregon; one in Philadelphia and one in Washington, D.C.

The Sacramento store was not included in the total. A store in Kansas City, Mo., was also closed Aug. 24 due to what Starbucks officials say are security concerns. Baristas on site say the store was closed because workers were trying to organize a union.

In July, Starbucks’ top workers said in a letter to employees that changes to store layouts, hours, bathroom occupancy sensors and other changes would be made if necessary to ensure safety. .

The letter said “permanently closing a store” could also happen, when security “is no longer possible”.

Jefferies did not provide any details about the incidents at the store.

A hot spot for the police

Police records show 40 incidents between October 20, 2020 and July 25, 2022 in the Starbucks area, including aggravated assault, shoplifting, assault and battery, and vandalism.

The reports don’t say whether the incidents happened at Starbucks or the mall that houses it.

A Starbucks barista at the Broadway store, who was not named. because he is not authorized by the company to speak to the media, said there were no recent security incidents. He said the concern was the large number of homeless people near the store.

“The idea was to close the store before an incident happened,” he said. “The problem is not getting better.”

A Jamba Juice next to Starbucks had closed last month.

Did Caltrans exacerbate the problem?

Returning on July 24, Caltrans, with the California Highway Patrol as backup, pulled the people out of the camp, just a block from the Starbucks at the 15th Street ramp off the eastbound 50 freeway.

Caltrans media chief Will Arnold said at the time that people living there would have “safer options” than living under the freeway.

The next day, dozens of homeless people moved across the street from the freeway and into local side streets near the Starbucks to new encampments.

Arnold did not respond to email and phone requests for comment.

“Caltrans is the entity that decided to move campers off 15th Street, causing them to circle the blocks where these companies were trying to operate,” said Sacramento Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela, who represents the area. of Land Park.

Homeless people had been living under the freeway for several years before Caltrans stepped in.

Venezuela also accused Sacramento County, which is the city’s official social services agency, of failing to provide needed services such as housing for the homeless.

County officials did not return requests for comment.

Sacramento City Spokesman Gregg Fishman said the city cannot move homeless people from public property in accordance with court orders unless there are viable housing alternatives.

“Our current resources are generally full,” he said.

Say a sad goodbye

A local group, The Land Park Civic Association, said it was upset with Starbuck’s closure.

“We are very sad and completely outraged that the drug trade right next to our neighborhood is shutting down local businesses,” said Kristina Rogers, vice president of the Land Park Civic Association. “First Jamba Juice, and now Starbucks in the same complex.”

Rogers said the association knows the police can only do what the law allows.

“We hope the mayor and our city council representatives are pushing upstream in our state to bring back common sense legislation that allows the police to do their jobs,” she said.

Back at Starbucks on Broadway in its final hours on Thursday. it was hugs and smiles between the baristas and their customers.

Joshua Atkins was one of the last clients. He’s been coming to the Starbucks on Broadway almost every day for the past 5 years, sometimes 2-3 times a day.

The boxing studio owner carried the card that Starbucks employees had given him in the morning, thanking him for his business.

“They remembered my name and my order every day,” he said. “Sometimes they have my order waiting for me. It was just outstanding customer service.

While sometimes homeless people asked him for money outside Starbucks, Atkins said he never had any security issues.

Atkins grabbed his iced one-shot espresso for his two-block walk back.

“I’m very sad, honestly,” he said before walking through the door.

The baristas, who said they got jobs at other Sacramento locations, told their customers they hoped to see them again from time to time.

This story was originally published August 26, 2022 2:56 p.m.

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Randy Diamond is a business reporter for The Sacramento Bee.

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