ALHAMBRA ( — While a number of residents say they believe a store owner’s family ties are allowing him the advantage of selling alcohol near a school, against the wishes of police, school district officials are working to deny him an alcohol permit.

Trent Yamauchi says when he spent $500,000 to open up the Big T Mini Mart in May, he was making an investment in his future, as well as in the community.

“I wanted my store to be a part of the rejuvenation of Alhambra,” Yamauchi said. “They just don’t want to see my store succeed.”

However, when Yamauchi initially applied for a conditional-use permit to be able to sell beer and wine, the city planning staff recommended that the application be denied, since the store is so close to Alhambra High School.

After several public hearings, the Planning Commission then voted to approve it.

The Alhambra Unified School Board is now appealing that decision, and wants to stop Yamauchi from obtaining the permit.

Believing he is being discriminated against, Yamauchi says that, within just a couple of blocks of his store, there are over a dozen other places that sell alcohol.

School district representatives, meanwhile, say their concern is the proximity to the students.

“This has nothing to do with the proprietor. He’s a good citizen of Alhambra,” AUSD Superintended Dr. Laura Tellez-Gagliano said. “We are just concerned about the closeness of the establishment to our school.”

Dr. Tellez-Gagliano met with the chief of police and others Monday night to ask the city council to deny Yamauchi the permit, because of students’ possible access to alcohol.

While some residents spoke out in support of Yamauchi, other say they believe he was receiving preferential treatment by the planning commission because his father is a city councilman.

“To be honest, I think it’s been actually harder,” Yamauchi said of his family position. “I’ve been treated worse than a normal person doing business in the city.”

Yamauchi has stated that he intends to take legal action against the city and school board if the permit is denied.


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