A family-owned slaughterhouse business with nine facilities in the United States hopes to open another in San Francisco, but animal rights advocates are asking the Board of Supervisor to kill the project Tuesday.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed an appeal to block the 1526 Wallace Ave. project, which would turn a former 2,100-square-foot automotive towing and storage space into a halal live poultry slaughterhouse with onsite customer sales. They argue The City should have required the project to undergo a more extensive environmental review.
Abdul Mused, 35, owner of Saba Live Poultry, applied for the permit.
“I’m hoping I’ll get approved,” Mused told the San Francisco Examiner Friday. “It’s a small operation. They are wasting people’s time — the animal activists.”
Mused said he came from the mountains of Yemen to the United States at the age of 15 and worked hard to eventually assume ownership in 1998 of a butcher shop in Brooklyn. He and his nine brothers, along with nephews, have grown the company and now raise their own chickens on the East Coast.
Five years ago Mused entered the Bay Area market with Saba Live Poultry in Oakland. After realizing that more than 40 percent of his customers there have zip codes in San Francisco, he decided to open up a store in The City.
The San Francisco location would keep 500 chickens onsite at any given time for slaughtering. New live birds would be trucked in from farms in the outer Bay Area and Central Valley about two to four times weekly, while around three to five trucks weekly would haul off animal waste products.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund argues the Planning Department should not have exempted the project from having to undergo an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.
“The transport of live animals on trucks through residential neighborhoods and a developing business corridor, indoor confinement of 500 animals in a 2100- square-foot facility in close proximity to residences, and the slaughter of approximately 140,000 animals per year will have significant environmental effects,” wrote Cristina Stella, a staff attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, in the appeal.
She also wrote that “these effects are exacerbated by its proposed siting in an environmentally sensitive community that already suffers disproportionately from air pollution and associated health effects.”
The appeal is supported by the Tenderloin-based community group Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, which has focused on environmental health issues in the Bayview since the late 1990s. Greenaction’s executive director Bradley Angel said in a letter in support of the appeal that the facility would “detract from future economic development of Bayview-Hunters Point.”
Angel raises environmental impact concerns over diesel emissions from animal transport and air pollutants from chicken feed and chicken manure.
The Planning Department has stood by its exemption. In a memo responding to the appeal, planning staff said the proposed operations are of such a “small scale” that the truck trips don’t prompt environmental review and the operations of the facility will be regulated by local, state and federal law, which adequately address raised concerns about such things as wastewater and disposal.
Addressing other air quality concerns, the memo said, “air from the facility would be discharged from the fan at a velocity of 3,000 feet per minute, sufficient to send it more than 50 feet above ground level before it dissipates into the atmosphere.”
Mused said the tension with animal rights activists is not something he experienced on the East Coast and he takes issue with their methods. Last year, the group Direct Action Everywhere reportedly organized an animal rights protest inside his Oakland shop.
Mused said he thinks the appeal is more about pushing a belief system on others than environmental impacts. He said the animal rights group is trying to paint “the picture bigger for the supervisors” of what his business will be.
“They are against anybody that eats meat,” Mused said.
Stella said in an email Friday that “the Animal Legal Defense Fund seeks to ensure that the environmental effects of live animal transport, indoor confinement, and slaughterhouses are adequately and meaningfully considered, as CEQA requires.”