GREENWOOD (CBS13) – Residents of a rural El Dorado County town are rallying behind the owners of its only grocery store, who are fighting to keep it open.
The renters of a 160-year-old building wanted to make it a store, so they put in new shelves, coolers and painted the walls and floors, but the county says they should’ve checked the zoning laws first.
When Vincent Cal retired from his contracting business of 50 years, he wanted to bring life to this quiet, yet scenic town in the foothills.
“I came up here for a drive, it was in foreclosure, weeds neck high and I thought, ‘I have to have something to do,’ so I overdid it,” said Vincent.
Cal’s market has been running for about nine months, and every day they’re open, he and co-owner Jamisa Fletcher are breaking the law. See, they don’t exactly have a business license.
“We don’t like being outlaws. We don’t like breaking the law. That’s not the point. The point is we can’t afford $20,000-$30,000 to re-zone it,” said Jamisa.
El Dorado County says Cal’s is zoned for residential even though old pictures of the building show it used to be a store. Rezoning would cost thousands, according to the county.
“Anyone who signs a contract like that outta be really rich or really stupid or one or the other,” said Vincent.
So after a year of leasing the place and getting nowhere with the county, Cal says he felt the right thing to do for Greenwood would be to open up anyway.
“I have to drive five miles that way, five miles that way to get to anything, so it’s very convenient,” said Rebecca, a customer.
Families hang out on their newly-built porch eating Cal’s now-famous $.99 hot dogs.
“We’re all backing it up. We all want to keep it here,” said Rebecca.
When the sheriff ordered Cal and Jamisa to court, the community followed.
“The whole whole half [of] the courtroom’s us; DA’s going, ‘Wow’,” said Jamisa.
It was a show of overwhelming support for outlaws who say they simply want to run a business.
“We just want a store. How simple is that? A store is already up and operating,” said Jamisa.
County supervisors are considering waiving some of the re-zoning fees. Cal’s owners have a trial set for the end of the month for staying open without a license.