Hot issue of Starbucks kiosk put on ice

Safeway has abandoned a plan to sell hot Starbucks coffee in a newly remodeled store in the Richmond district, less than five months after the protests of local residents prevented the opening of a Starbucks coffee shop five blocks away.

A Starbucks kiosk opened in a Safeway store at Seventh Avenue and Cabrillo Street in December, but it stopped selling beverages shortly thereafter following complaints to The City from shoppers and neighborhood residents.

Safeway acknowledged in a letter to its customers Tuesday that it had not applied for a permit to open the kiosk, which the grocery store would have owned and operated under a licensing agreement with the coffee chain.

“Plans to include the Starbucks kiosk were reviewed by the building and planning departments in fall 2007,” wrote Karl Schroeder, president of Safeway’s Northern California division. “It wasn’t until recently that a consensus was reached that a conditional-use permit was required.”

But City Planner Mary Woods told The Examiner that Schroeder was “stretching the truth a bit” in his letter. “It’s their interpretation,” she said. “They’re lumping a Starbucks in there, but we didn’t approve a Starbucks — we just approved the Safeway.”

The store’s layout was approved by planning commissioners in 2003, according to Woods, and there have been five revisions to the plans since 2005.

Starbucks spokeswoman Bridget Baker confirmed the company would not reopen in the Richmond district Safeway.

“The proposed kiosk in the Safeway located at Seventh and Cabrillo will not open,” Baker told The Examiner in an e-mail. “Starbucks is a welcomed presence in many other neighborhoods in San Francisco, where we’ve proved that we’re good neighbors.”

Starbucks has 86 stores in San Francisco, according to an analysis of a map at its Web site. The first store opened on Union Street in 1992, according to Baker.

The only Starbucks in the Richmond is inside a bank at Masonic Avenue and Fulton Street, according to the company’s online map.

Proposition G, which passed in 2006, directs chains with more than 11 stores to obtain permits based on their “desirability, compatibility and benefit.” Because of Proposition G, the Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 in September to prevent a Starbucks store from opening in Richmond on Fifth Avenue and Geary Boulevard, around the corner from the Safeway building, after residents and businesses collected more than 4,000 signatures from opponents.

The same chain-store opponents recently began collecting signatures from opponents of the new kiosk.

The store will still sell packaged Starbucks products and it’s considering selling some other brand of hot coffee from its in-store deli, according to the letter.

jupton@examiner.com

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