Placerville Considers Extending Thrift Store Moratorium

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, December 14, 2009
Thrift shops have been multiplying in the small El Dorado County town over the past year.
“Certainly, going from one in the community to now six is a concern.”
Steve Calfee is Placerville’s Community Development Director.
“It’s a rapid growth industry and in all likelihood it has direct relationship with the economy that we’re not enjoying right now.”
But Calfee says selling used merchandise doesn’t generate enough of the city’s total sales tax revenue.
“We live and die on sales tax. And if we enter a situation where we have under-utilized commercial properties it will take a long time to recover. And those are funds that can fund police officers and fire prevention.”
That’s why Calfee is asking city council members to extend a 45-day moratorium so that staff can keep researching the issue and review zoning codes. Ravel Buckley is sympathetic to the city’s concerns over sales tax revenue. She’s retail operations manager for Snowline Hospice thrift stores in Placerville. 
“They’re right – we probably don’t generate what a car dealership would generate. So we respect that.”
But Snowline wants to expand and move from its Placerville Drive store to a vacant Ford dealership off of Highway 50. The thrift store moratorium has blocked that. And that’s enraged many of Snowline’s customers…especially because the thrift store is part of a charity that provides free care for the terminally ill.
“So they shop our stores, they donate to our stores. And so it is extremely emotional when they don’t understand why we couldn’t move to a vacant building.”
Buckley says if the moratorium is extended, she’s hopeful the city will come up with a compromise plan for the growth of thrift stores. But she says customers are losing patience. 
“People aren’t tolerant about that. They’re more compassionate about ‘just let this happen at this time in our economy.’”
The public hearing on Placerville’s thrift store moratorium will take place at Monday's city council meeting set to start at 7 PM.