Formula Business Restriction – Benicia, CA

Date: 2 Dec 2008 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In June 2007, Benicia, a town of 27,000 people located about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, enacted the following two ordinances, which stipulate that retail stores larger than 20,000 square feet and formula restaurants will not be approved unless they meet certain criteria.

Thecriteria include, for example, that the store be operated in a manner that "preserves the city’s  . . .  distinctive character and ambiance" and "enhances the economic health of the surrounding area."  The proposed store must also "contribute to an appropriate balance of local, regional or national-based businesses" and "avoid an appearance commonly associated with strip retail or shopping centers."

Themeasure was prompted by growing concerns about the potential impact of large chain retailers on the city’s downtown and local businesses. Dozens of residents communicated their support for the measure in testimony at the public hearing or in letters to city council members.

Thecity council discussed, and some members supported, adding a provision to limit the size of stores to about 70,000 square feet.  But that provision did not make it into the final ordinance.

Unlike some of the economic impact review ordinances enacted by other cities, this one does not have strong, detailed economic impact standards, nor does it require an independent economic impact analysis.


CITY OF BENICIA – ORDINANCE NO. 07-15

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BENICIA AMENDING SECTION 17.28.020 (LAND USE REGULATIONS) OF CHAPTER 17.28 (C COMMERCIAL DISTRICTS) AND ADDING SECTION 17.70.360 (Retail Sales Larger Than 20,000 Square Feet) OF CHAPTER 17.70 (SITE REGULATIONS)

Section 1. 

TheRetail Sales portion of the Schedule of Section 17.28.020 (Land Use Regulations) of Chapter 17.28 (C Commercial Districts), of Title 17(Zoning) of the Benicia Municipal Code is amended to add ìRetail Sales Larger Than 20,000 Square Feetì regulations to read as follows:

  CC CO CG CD CW Additional Regulations
Eating and Drinking Establishments P P P P  
Formula Business U U (M)

(M)  See BMC 17.70.360 (Retail Sales Larger Than 20,000 Square Feet).

Section 2.

Chapter17.70 (Site Regulations) of Title 17 (Zoning) of the Benicia Municipal Code is amended by adding a new section 17.70.360 (Retail Sales Larger Than 20,000 Square Feet) to read as follows:

17.70.360 Retail Sales Larger Than 20,000 Square Feet of gross floor area.  Approval of a use permit for a retail sales establishment larger than 20,000 square feet requires that the planning commission find that the proposed establishment will:

  1. Complement existing uses and enhance the economic health of the surrounding area;
  2. Be operated in a non-obtrusive manner that preserves the cityís or areaís distinctive character and ambiance;
  3. Not result in a concentration of formula and/or retail sales establishments larger than 20,000 square feet in the vicinity or citywide;
  4. Promote diversity and variety to assure a balanced mix of commercial uses available to serve both resident and visitor populations;
  5. Contribute to an appropriate balance of local, regional or national-based businesses and small, medium and large-sized businesses in the community; and
  6. Avoid an appearance commonly associated with strip retail or shopping centers.

Section 3. 

Severability. If any section, subsection, phrase or clause of this ordinance is for any reason held to be unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance.

TheCity Council hereby declares that it would have passed this and each section, subsection, phrase or clause thereof irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, phrase or clauses be declared unconstitutional on their face or as applied.

*****

Onmotion of Council Member Whitney, seconded by Council Member Hughes, the foregoing ordinance was introduced at a regular meeting of the City Council on the  15th day of May, 2007, and adopted at a regular meeting of the Council held on the 5th   day of June, 2007, by the following vote:

Ayes:   Council Members Hughes, Patterson, Whitney and Mayor Messina

Noes:   Vice Mayor Schwartzman

Absent: None


Formula Business Ordinance – City of Benicia

CITY OF BENICIA -ORDINANCE NO. 07-12

ANORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BENICIA AMENDING SECTION 17.12.030 (DEFINITIONS) OF CHAPTER 17.12 (DEFINITIONS), AMENDING SECTION 17.28.010 (SPECIFIC PURPOSES), AMENDING SECTION 17.28.020 (LAND USE REGULATIONS) OF CHAPTER 17.28 (C COMMERCIAL DISTRICTS), AND ADDING A NEW SECTION 17.70.350 (FORMULA BUSINESSES) TO CHAPTER 17.70 (SITE REGULATIONS) OF TITLE 17 (ZONING)

Section 1. 

Section17.12.030 (Definitions) of Chapter 17.12 (Definitions) of Title 17(Zoning) of the Benicia Municipal Code is amended by adding this definition to read as follows:

Formula Business means an eating and drinking establishment that maintains any of the following features in common with more than four other establishments in the nine Bay Area counties: standardized array of services and/or merchandise, trademark, logo, service mark, symbol, sign, dÈcor, uniform, menu, or other similar standardized feature. 

Section 2. 

SubsectionA of Section 17.28.010 (Specific Purposes – Commercial Districts) of Chapter 17.28 (C Commercial Districts) of Title 17 (Zoning) of the Benicia Municipal Code is amended to add:

9.  Preserve a balanced mix of locally, regionally, and nationally based businesses and small and medium sized businesses to maintain and promote the long-term economic health of businesses and the community as a whole. 

10. Regulate the location and operation of formula businesses in order to maintain the Cityís unique historic small town character, the diversity and economic vitality of the communityís commercial districts and the quality of life of Benicia residents.

Section 3. 

TheEating and Drinking Establishment portion of the Schedule of  Section 17.28.020 (Land Use Regulations) of Chapter 17.28 (C Commercial Districts), of Title 17 (Zoning) of the Benicia Municipal Code is amended to add formula businesses to read as follows:

  CC CO CG CD CW Additional Regulations
Eating and Drinking Establishments P P P P P  
Formula Business U L18 U (L)

L-18 Formula Businesses are a permitted use in the CG zone except for the Solano/Davies Square areas (bounded by Military, N and West and East Second Streets) where a use permit is required. 

(L)  See BMC 17.70.350 (Formula Businesses).

Section 4. 

Chapter17.70 (Site Regulations) of Title 17 (Zoning) of the Benicia Municipal Code is amended by adding a new section 17.70.350 (Formula Businesses)to read as follows:

17.70.350 Formula Businesses.  In the combined CD district and Solano/Davies Square areas(bounded by Military, N and West and East Second Streets), no more than one establishment of any particular formula business shall be allowed. Approval of a use permit for a formula business requires that the planning commission find that the proposed establishment will:

  1. Complement existing uses and enhance the economic health of the surrounding area;
  2. Be operated in a non-obtrusive manner that preserves the city’s or area’­s distinctive character, ambiance, and small-sized city and historic nature;
  3. Not result in a concentration of formula businesses in the vicinity or citywide;
  4. Promote diversity and variety to assure a balanced mix of commercial uses available to serve both resident and visitor populations;
  5. Contribute to an appropriate balance of local, regional or national-based businesses and small, medium and large-sized businesses in the community; and
  6. Avoid an appearance commonly associated with strip retail or shopping centers.

Section 5. 

Severability. If any section, subsection, phrase or clause of this ordinance is for any reason held to be unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance.

TheCity Council hereby declares that it would have passed this and each section, subsection, phrase or clause thereof irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, phrase or clauses be declared unconstitutional on their face or as applied.

*****

Onmotion of Council Member Patterson, seconded by Council Member Whitney, the foregoing ordinance was introduced at a regular meeting of the City Council on the 3rd  day of April, 2007, and adopted at a regular meeting of the Council held on the 1st day of May, 2007, by the following vote:

Ayes:   Council Members Hughes, Patterson, Whitney and Vice Mayor Schwartzman

Noes:   None

Absent:   None

Abstain:   Mayor Messina

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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which partners with a wide range of allies to implement policies that counter concentrated power and strengthen local economies.