San Francisco May Notify Neighbors When Chains Try to Move in

Date: 1 Jul 2003 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Under a measure introduced by San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez, the city would notify neighbors whenever a pharmacy or coffee shop wants to open nearby.

Residents would have 30 days to request that the proposed store be subject to a public hearing and formal review by the Planning Commission. Such reviews are normally required only for major demolition or construction, or when there is a change of use, such as from residential to commercial. Notices would be mailed to residents within 150 feet of the site, as well as all relevant neighborhood organizations and people who had requested notification.

The measure was unanimously endorsed by the Planning Commission and has been approved by the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee.

Grassroots fights against Starbucks and Walgreens in his district led Supervisor Gonzalez to propose the measure. Residents successfully pressured Starbucks to back out of plans to open in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, but failed to stop Walgreens from taking over the site of a former local grocery store on the corner of Cole Street and Parnassus Avenue. In both cases, there was no notification or review process.

In order to meet legal standards for equal treatment, the measure applies to independent as well as chain pharmacies and coffee shops. Some people have raised concerns that it could harm local entrepreneurs by holding up their projects for 30 days. But supporters say the delay is fairly modest and note that neighbors are unlikely to impose the more lengthy hearing and review process on independents.

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Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.