After a rash of supermarket closings, The City is responding by trying to make it more difficult for nonsupermarkets to occupy the vacant buildings.
Earlier this month Albertsons closed 37 Northern California stores, including two in The City, one on Alemany Boulevard and another on Clement Street. The closures came just a year after Cala Foods shut down two stores in The City, one on Stanyan Street and another on Mission Street, and the sale of nine others.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd asked The City to address the problem of communities losing their supermarkets by drafting an ordinance that would require a business trying to open a storeother than a supermarket in a building vacated by a grocery store to obtain a conditional use permit. The process would require a public hearing before the Planning Commission. Elsbernd said theordinance would help new supermarkets reopen in the abandoned neighborhoods.
“It increases community involvement … and I think incentivizes the same use,” he said.
The ordinance is based on a similar measure recently approved by the Board of Supervisors to protect single-screen theaters in The City. Under the proposed law, which would be drafted by a Sept. 12 board meeting and need approval from both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, no conditional use permit would be required if the business owner wanted to bring a supermarket back to the site.
Elsbernd said the ordinance would also ease restrictions on large supermarket chains such as Safeway or Trader Joe’s from reopening in these neighborhoods. But a November ballot measure, called the Small Business Protection Act, if passed would require chain stores, those with 11 or more locations, to have a public hearing in front of the Planning Commission before being allowed to open in a neighborhood. Elsbernd said he would campaign for residents to vote against the measure partly because it would trump the proposed ordinance.
Meanwhile, residents living near the abandoned sites are forced to travel up to seven miles to buy food. On Alemany Boulevard some residents are driving to Daly City, according to Giselle Quezada, who lives near the store. Elsbernd said there are about 10 bids, mostly from supermarkets, to reopen at the vacant Albertsons building on Alemany Boulevard.
Residents living near the old Cala Foods site on Stanyan Street are depending on neighborhood corner stores until a proposed Whole Foods is reopened there. Mark Brennan, the owner of the site, said initial plans to redevelop the old building are not scheduled to be heard by the Planning Commission for nine months.