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Starbucks to Shut Down Store Near Pier Due to Safety Concerns

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By Jorge Casuso

July 12, 2022 -- Starbucks will shut down its store near the foot of the Santa Monica Pier by month's end because it is no longer safe to operate, company officials announced Tuesday.

The store is one of 16 Starbucks will shut down nationwide, 12 of them in California and Washington, due to drug use, thefts and assaults by customers and members of the public, according to company officials.

"After careful consideration, we are closing some stores in locations that have experienced a high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate," a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

The chain plans to "open new locations with safer conditions," the spokesperson said.

The Santa Monica store will close two years after it opened on the 1600 block of Oceanfront Walk, an area bustling with visitors and a hangout for the homeless.

Earlier this year, the City removed nearby Chess Park after residents complained it had long been overrun by the homeless, some of whom engaged in criminal and anti-social behavior ("Santa Monica to Take Down Chess Park," February 18, 2022).

Councilmember Phil Brock was alarmed by news of the Starbucks closure, noting that the City had recently enhanced public safety efforts by adding a pier and beach unit.

"I think that's tragic," Brock said of the news. "Our priority in Santa Monica is public safety and that shows we still have a ways to go.

"It saddens me that Starbucks doesn't have confidence in our city," he added. "I have absolute confidence that the business that replaces them will succeed."

The announcement comes one month after Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said the company was considering ending its policy allowing non-customers to use store bathrooms.

Schultz cited a nationwide “mental health” problem that had given rise to mounting public safety concerns.

“There is an issue of, just, safety in our stores, in terms of people coming in who use our stores as a public bathroom,” he said during a New York Times DealBook event.

“We have to provide a safe environment for our people and our customers," Schultz said. "The mental health crisis in the country is severe, acute and getting worse.”

In addition to the Santa Monica store near the Pier, the company will close three locations in Los Angeles and one each in Hollywood and West Hollywood by the end of the month.

It also will shut down five stores in Seattle and one in Everett, Washington; two in Portland; one in Philadelphia, and one at the Union Station Train Concourse in Washington, DC.

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