Chain-store bills move to new areas

Chain stores came under fire anew by members of the Board of Supervisors who introduced two separate resolutions this week: one that would ban formula retail stores in Chinatown and another that would expand the neighborhoods where chain stores would have a tough time setting up shop.

In recent years, San Francisco has increasingly rolled up the welcome mat for chain stores. In 2004, The City’s first ban on chain stores — described as businesses with more than 10 locations nationwide — was enacted in Hayes Valley by the Board of Supervisors. The board subsequently adopted a chain-store ban in North Beach in 2005.

The next year, San Francisco voters approved a measure requiring chain stores looking to open up for business in neighborhood commercial areas to go through special permitting that includes an appeals process that allows the Board of Supervisors to vote on whether to grant a permit.

Additionally, legislation prohibiting formula retail uses in the Mission and Bernal Heights was introduced in November and is currently under consideration.

The latest proposed chain-store restriction would be an outright ban in Chinatown, introduced Tuesday by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin.

“The concern in the community is that the unique character of Chinatown not be turned into cookie-cutter Anywhere, USA,” Peskin said.

Peskin said Chinatown residents have expressed concern about chain stores, including a proposal from 7-Eleven to open a franchise at Kearny and Clay streets.

Margaret Chabris, a 7-Eleven spokeswoman, told The Examiner such a ban would mean The City would lose a business that would “offer jobs and hire from within Chinatown.”

Peskin conceded that he’s not absolutely certain that a complete ban is the best way to go, “but I think it’s the right place to start the conversation.”

Critics of the efforts to ban chain stores have said such restrictions will result in empty storefronts and undermine the economic vibrancy of The City’s neighborhoods.

“North Beach has less vacancies than it has had in 20 years,” Peskin countered.

In a separate piece of legislation introduced Tuesday, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick proposed extending the special permitting process approved by voters to other parts of The City not zoned as neighborhood commercial areas: Van Ness Avenue; about 40 square blocks east of Van Ness Avenue loosely bounded by Golden Gate Avenue and Pine Street; an area between Piers 1 and 3; and a few blocks at the base of Rincon Hill.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Keeping out chain stores

New chain stores are prohibited in some neighborhoods, while bans have been proposed for others.

San Francisco neighborhoods with chain-store bans

  • North Beach
  • Hayes Valley

Neighborhoods that may ban chain stores under legislation introduced to the Board of Supervisors

  • Mission
  • Bernal Heights
  • Chinatown

Source: San Francisco City Clerk

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