Starbucks has become the first big chain store that the Board of Supervisors blocked from opening up for business under a new city law approved by voters last year to protect small local businesses and preserve neighborhood character.
The Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 Tuesday to prohibit Starbucks from moving into the Richmond district at 4041 Geary Blvd., near Fifth Avenue. The Starbucks would have occupied a 750-square-foot space within a new Toyota service center under construction.
The Planning Commission had approved a permit June 14 to allow Starbucks to open up for business. Jesse Fink, head of the Clement Street Merchants Association, which represents 30 businesses in the Richmond district, appealed the decision under the new law, which says formula retail businesses — defined as having 11 or more locations nationwide — are to be approved based on “desirability, compatibility and benefit.” Fink said he collected more than 4,000 signatures opposing the permit.
San Francisco has increasingly placed restrictions on allowing formula retail businesses to open in The City. An outright ban of such stores was established in North Beach and Hayes Valley. More recently, voters approved Proposition G in November 2006 requiring formula retail businesses to undergo a public hearing at the Planning Commission and obtain a special permit to operate in neighborhood commercial areas throughout San Francisco. An approval by the commission could be appealed for a vote by the Board of Supervisors.
Opponents of the Starbucks move said that Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King are already turning the area into a strip mall, and Starbucks could jeopardize existing nearby mom-and-pop coffee shops.
“I want to preserve the character and the uniqueness of San Francisco,” said Fink, who has owned the Toy Boat Dessert Café on Clement Street at Fifth Avenue for 25 years.
Some merchants in the area, however, supported Starbucks moving in. “We believe the new Starbucks would be appealing to Toyota customers, residents and the surrounding businesses. It will also stimulate commerce in the area,” said David Heller, president of the Geary Boulevard Merchants Association.
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who represents the Richmond district, said he voted against Starbucks moving in because there was overwhelming opposition from residents in his district.
Supervisor Ed Jew was the only supervisor to support the Starbucks location, because, he said, the Toyota service center had done its due diligence in seeking a tenant.
IN OTHER ACTION
BLUE ANGELS: Supervisor Chris Daly’s resolution urging a halt to the flyovers of the Blue Angels during Fleet Week was referred to committee for a second time. Daly said he may now obtain three other signatures from board members to have a public hearing on the resolution by the full board.
POT CLUBS: A vote on amendments to The City’s first-ever law for medical marijuana clubs was continued until next Tuesday. The legislation would extend the deadline from July 1 until March 2008 for clubs to obtain city permits.