Planning Commission opposes Polk Street chain store ban

J.K. Dineen : sfgate – excerpt

The San Francisco Planning Commission narrowly rejected a proposed ban on chain stores on Polk Street on Thursday, with the majority arguing that the legislation was too broad and could have unintended consequences.

Instead, the majority of planning commissioners said that, rather than an outright ban, the current zoning should be amended to let in some desirable formula retail establishments while raising the bar for those opposed by the majority of residents.

“This is a solution looking for a problem,” said Commissioner Michael Antonini, who voted against the ban with three other commissioners in the 4-3 vote. “We’ve only had three applications (for formula retail businesses) since 2011. We approved two of them and rejected one. There has not been a glut of formula retail applications despite a glut of vacancies in the neighborhood.”

Fear of more empty stores

Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced the formula retail legislation in February as a way to block a proposed Whole Foods 365 grocery store, which has filed an application to occupy the former Lombardi Sports store at Polk and Jackson streets. Peskin says he wants to preserve the mom-and-pop character of Polk Street’s business corridor and that he would rather see housing built there, which the property owner had originally intended to do. Last month, however, Peskin agreed to exempt the Whole Foods store, allowing the store instead to have a separate conditional-use hearing.

After the commission’s recommendation, the formula retail ban will go before the Board of Supervisors next… (more)

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