Prop. G: Chain stores to be restricted

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McDonald’s and other chain stores will have a harder time opening their doors in The City after residents passed a proposition that proponents say will protect the character of The City’s neighborhood.

Proposition G requires formula retail stores, chain outlets with 11 or more locations throughout the United States, to get a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission before being allowed to open its doors. The process allows for a public hearing, which is not required, where residents could seek limits on chain stores based on issues such as traffic impacts and parking conditions.

The City restricts formula retail stores from opening in the Hayes Valley and limits it in other areas that have a community shopping district or an intersection with commercial activity. Chain stores can open in North Beach, Cole Valley, the Castro and the Inner Sunset only after going through additional permit reviews.

Proponents argued that the measure would protect the charm of neighborhoods from being ruined by large chain stores and it would give residents a chance to voice their concerns, which they say is not currently the case.

“It is designed to give neighborhoods control over their own destiny and character, and stop San Francisco from becoming Anywhere, USA,” Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said.

Opponents called the proposition a “wolf in sheep’s disguise” because it “stifles” small business and makes it more difficult for a neighborhood to get the stores they need. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said in his district the proposition would force residents of Oceanview and Anza Vista to continue to the practice of patience. Residents have been waiting for the replacement of two Albertsons that shut down in August. He said protecting neighborhoods from formula retail should have been a legislative battle at the Board of Supervisors, not dealt with through the ballot process.

“I made the point over and over again that the two Albertsons sites [would attract] formula retail and people in my district don’t really care, they just want a grocery store,” he said. “I am going to have to go out there and tell them ‘sorry you are going to have to wait another three to six months for a grocery store.’”

sfarooq@examiner.com

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