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Proposed Safeway Gas Station Fuels Controversy

Grocery chain wants to open a 16-pump station at Washington Square Shopping Center store.

Petaluma Safeway. Patch file photo
Petaluma Safeway. Patch file photo

Petaluma shoppers may soon be able to add fuel to fuel to their "ingredients for life" shopping list.

Safeway wants to open a fueling station at its Washington Square Shopping Center store, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.

The supermarket chain last month submitted an application to the city for what would be one of Petaluma's most expansive fueling stations, the report said. 

The plans call for an expansive 6,000-square-foot covered 16-pump fuel station and an adjacent 1,000-square-foot convenience store, the report said.

The proposal faces opposition from local gas stations and regulatory hurdles, the report said. Concerns about added traffic in the already congested area are cited, too.

Safeway's entry into the gas business follows a move competitors such as Costco, Albertsons, and Nob Hill Foods have already made.

But not everybody's happy about the idea.

Dan Lutz, who owns a Petaluma Chevron Station, told the Press Democrat that Safeway doesn't play fair.

“As long as they were going to be competitive, go ahead and do it,” Lutz said. “But they’re not trying to sell gas; they’re trying to sell groceries by giving away a lollipop to get people in the store. There not trying to be competitive with anyone else in town, they’re trying to undercut people.”

Safeway spokeswoman Wendy Gutshall told the Press Democrat in an email that her company operates more than 400 fuel stations in the United States.

"And where there’s an opportunity and space to offer our customers a fuel center, we explore the option,” Gutshall said.

City officials will analyze the potential impact on traffic patterns before granting Safeway a permit to operate a fuel station, City Manager John Brown told the Press Democrat.

“Staff has been looking at this pretty hard,” he said. “The traffic analysis would have to show a good result for this to move forward.”


Would you like to see Safeway open a fuel station at its Washington Square Shopping Center store? Share your thoughts in our comments section.

mara donovan August 30, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Petaluma gas station owners have long conspired to charge upwards of 30 cents a gallon more for gas than neighboring communities. Contrary to the opponent's argument, the Shell station across the street from the Safeway gas is thriving. It's time to end the price fixing that occurs every day in Petaluma! I support this free enterprise.
Kelly Mace August 30, 2013 at 04:09 PM
What the article fails to mention is that the Safeway gas station will cause other businesses to close. The building that houses Peppers, Curves, Washington Square Vet, the eye doctor and travel agency will need to be knocked down in order for the gas station to be built. Some of the businesses may be able to relocate to empty storefronts in the same shopping center, but others may be forced to close. Hardly free enterprise.
Paula Moors August 31, 2013 at 09:20 AM
It's too bad city officials didn't consider traffic congestion before they put in the Target shopping center and the Deer Creek shopping center! I now avoid East Washington at all costs and soon McDowell, because of traffic and I for one is all for cheaper gas. Go Safeway!!
Petaluma Seer September 05, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Traffic congestion drives me away from traveling along East Washington unless a dire emergency. I discovered I just burn fuel while sitting in gridlock on the overpass, while trying to go to the eastside. So whichever side you live on, you find yourself in gridlock. I visited Sprouts when it first opened and have not gone back to that center to see the other openings or to shop. The traffic makes it inconvenient.
Nancy Bosch September 07, 2013 at 10:50 PM
We noticed coming across East Washington from the West side tonight that we had to stop at every single stoplight. Perhaps the gridlock could be alleviated if the stoplights were reconfigured to let the traffic flow better. Just a thought.

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