Chipotle denied move into Castro

The application to open a Chipotle Mexican Grill in the Upper Market-Castro neighborhood was denied amid a fight about formula retail in the area.

The restaurant, which has roughly 900 stores nationwide and nine in San Francisco, was hoping take over the 9,490-square-foot lot at the corners of 14th, Church and Market streets, which has been vacant for more than two years.

The Planning Commission voted 5-1 on Thursday to deny the permit.

The application was denied per the Planning Department's staff recommendation. Staff is required to deny any chain retail store in the area because of a recently adopted policy that charges them to do so if formula retail concentration within 300 feet of the applicant would be more than 20 percent. With Chipotle, the concentration would have jumped to 36 percent.

Nearby residents worked with city government and planning to adopt such a policy to prevent landlords from renting to only chain stores and not giving locally owned business more of a chance to set up shop. Many in area hope to see more of a mix of formula retail and local, small business to keep the vibrancy of the community.

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