SAN MATEO -- A hotly disputed 7-Eleven market in San Mateo Heights will close next week under the terms of a legal settlement between the city and the international convenience store chain, officials announced Friday.
The agreement closes a convoluted saga that began in 2012 when city planners mistakenly approved the store. The City Council reversed that decision in 2013, after the market had opened. The property owner and 7-Eleven sued to overturn that decision and lost. However, they had planned to appeal.
The settlement, under which the city will pay $150,000 to 7-Eleven and the owner, Portfolio Development Partners, represents an underdog victory for a group of neighbors who fought the store from the beginning.
They argued the market, which 7-Eleven said it will shut down Tuesday, was a bad fit for their mostly residential neighborhood and attracted noise, traffic and crime.
Two neighbors, including Annie Coull, compared their win to David's takedown of Goliath.
"To overcome so many obstacles is a testament to the power of community, citizenship and ethical government officials," said Coull, who lives next to the store and says customers of the 24-hour store kept her up at night and left cigarette butts and other trash in her yard. "Mistakes were made and when the process was called into question, the city stepped up to rectify them."
Planners in early 2012 decided the 7-Eleven was a legal nonconforming use of the property on North San Mateo Drive, which was zoned for multifamily homes. But neighbors protested, ultimately convincing the council that planners had misread the city's zoning laws.
Councilman David Lim said Friday he was satisfied by the settlement, which also provides that the city will waive 7-Eleven's permit fees if the corporation finds an appropriate location for a new store. It also sends an important message to citizens, he said.
"We're not going to cave to large corporations," Lim said. "We're going to protect our homeowners because it's the right thing to do."
7-Eleven officials issued a statement saying it was disappointed not to prevail in court. The corporation noted it took several steps to appease San Mateo Heights neighbors from reducing the noise of delivery trucks to performing extra litter patrols.
"In good faith and relying on the permits that were issued by the city, we opened this location and operated our retail business as a legally existing, nonconforming use in the area," the statement read. "We want to thank our loyal customers for their support throughout the legal process and during the time that we were in business at North San Mateo Drive. We know that they will miss our products and services, as we will miss serving them."