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SoMa residents back measure to restrict chain stores

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SoMa residents are joining other city neighborhoods in giving chain stores the cold shoulder by supporting legislation that would make it much more difficult for any new Starbucks, McDonald’s and other national franchise to open their doors.

Under legislation proposed by Supervisor Chris Daly on Tuesday, chains — both large and small — will have to get approval from the Planning Commission before they could locate in an area between Fourth and Division streets and Mission and Townsend streets.
The supervisor has also proposed a 45-day moratorium on all new chains while a local planning board creates a development plan for the neighborhood and makes recommendations on rezoning the neighborhood.

Some local residents have complained that gentrification, which accelerated in the dot-com boom days, is pushing longtime residents out and hurting the cultural and economic diversity of the neighborhood. The neighborhood is largely composed of light-industrial businesses, clubs and residential buildings.

Residents also believe chains will undercut local businesses and ruin its character. Chains are defined as businesses that have 11 or more stores and use common design, signs and logos.

“The displacement and disruptions caused by the dot-com boom and bust have been an important lesson for the community,” said Jim Meko, chairman of the Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force, in a statement. “We are undertaking a comprehensive planning process to protect SoMa’s social, cultural and economic diversity.”
The task force passed a resolution on Friday urging the Board of Supervisors to establish the controls on chains in the neighborhood. The Board of Supervisors has passed chain bans in Hayes Valley and North Beach and instituted controls on chains in Cole Valley and the Divisadero neighborhood.

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