Ferry Street’s first bail bond office was approved Wednesday by Martinez planning manager Terry Blount, acting in his capacity as the Zoning Administrator. The applicant, Ernesto Alvarez, will open the operation at 729 Ferry St. in the next few weeks.
The application had to be approved by the Zoning Administrator because several years ago the City Council, acting on concerns that there were too many bail-bond companies downtown, passed an ordinance requiring that every new bail-bond operation acquire a use permit.
Senior Planner Cory Simon said at the meeting that there are seven bail bonds offices in Martinez, which he said did not constitute an overconcentration.
“The storefront in question has been vacant a long time,” he said. “It makes sense to have it occupied, to have some economic utility there.”
He added that the present bail-bond operations have not had a negative effect on shopping or the downtown environment, and since this is the first such business on Ferry Street, he did not foresee any problems.
Simon said that there was no pre-established number in the ordinance that would define a glut of bail-bond agencies. Therefore, each application has to be decided on a case-by-case basis, he said.
“I believe the findings are correct,” Blount said, “and I approve this application.”