“There’s a place for everything,” [Marsha Garland, founder and executive director of the North Beach Chamber of Commerce] said. “For example, I like Pottery Barn. I’m glad there’s one in the Marina. But I wouldn’t want one in North Beach. We don’t want chains in North Beach.” (‘Survivor’ champ may not make it in S.F.)

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Jimmy (Bitter Renter)

    Gawd, what an awful manipulation of the permit process in favor of a “family-owned” (by white/Irish/Italians no doubt) yogurt store that just happens to be opening up nearby. Yeah, right. Everyone knows that North Beach business owners are trying to stem the tide of Chinese businesses moving in from Chinatown — NIMBYism, racism, call it what you want, here it is in action.

  2. Posted by vox

    This is just an immunity challenge. He’ll deal.

  3. Posted by annnnnono

    Yep — yet another example of “liberal” San Francisco values of exclusion and simmering racism beneath the tranquil surface. Hypocrites.
    I bet Marsha Garland goes around telling everyone “some of my best friends are Chinese.”

  4. Posted by David

    Except he’s Korean:).
    But yeah, it was either a deliberate delay, or incompetence on the permit people that delayed it so long a few more places opened up elsewhere.
    Incompetent? Cronyism? Or racism?
    Hmmm. Or all of the above?

  5. Posted by zzzzzzz

    This obsession with chain stores is so precious, so fey, so elitist. All this in a city that makes a fetish of egalitarianism and social justice. The fact is that chain store bans limits consumer choice and raise prices. The jihad against chain stores is very much a preoccupation of the priveleged.

  6. Posted by CruiseSavvy

    My office is in North Beach and this silly ban on chains negatively affects my quality of life every day.
    Because of the ban there is no Peet’s and not even a Starbucks within a half mile. You’d think those family owned Italian places would have good espresso drinks, but their lattes are inconsistent at best. And you never, ever get velvety foam.
    Basically, the lattes around here are comparable to an airport Starbucks. Which makes sense, since that’s another market with restricted competition.
    Argh!!! There’s a place in h*ll for makers of bad lattes, and the evil regulators who allow them to survive.
    Okay, okay, I’m just cranky because I need some caffeine and don’t want dishwater, or a walk to the FiDi…. =)

  7. Posted by anonrockridgelover

    What exactly is their definition of a “chain” store? What about the Banks?, or PASTA POMODORO!!! THAT is a chain! People love to pick on the Marina, but Chestnut still is a much more usable street of shops for people who actually live in San Francisco vs. a street like Columbus which long ago was given up to the tourists.

  8. Posted by S&S

    What a load of horse manure. Kwon was given a permit, and he proceeded to lease and renovate his space with the understanding that he is PERMITTED to open his yogurt store. They can’t just pull the permit from him now and leave him stuck with a lease. Kwon should sue the North Beach Chamber of Commerce. And I hope he wins.

  9. Posted by rg

    The problem is that those NB snobs have so much money that they don’t even understand when they are ruining someone else’s life. I hope he sues Peskin, NBCC and Garland for every penny that they have!
    Personally, I’m just about to pick up the phone and call the NBCC to tell them how disgusting they are. I encourage everyone to call as well: (415)989-2220

  10. Posted by kaya

    Marsha needs to start popping her estrogen pills again and realize what an niiice asset Kwon is to North Beach.
    Actually, the 11 store limit is really ridiculously low, but I personally think not having a Starbuck’s (usually I replace the ‘b’ with another consonant) is one of NB’s saving graces. It’s amazing that north beach has such mediocre coffee, yes, but replacing overburnt coffee with more overburnt coffee is not the solution.
    OK, this is a yogurt store, but my point is, they should raise the limit on chain stores to 100,000, or whatever the number of Starbuck’s or Home Depots (whichever is lower) is.

  11. Posted by zig

    the 11 store limit was passed by the voters and is the law so there is no issue there (agree or not)
    The issue with issuing the permit and then pulling it is interesting. Is there legal standing to sue and damages? Anyone really know the answer to this?

  12. Posted by Jamie

    Well, if North Beach is full of empty store fronts like some parts of the Mission, they’ll know who to blame (themselves).

  13. Posted by zzzzzzz

    What’s so magical about the number 11? Why not 12, or 10? It’s obviously completely arbitrary, but the underlying premise is that any business that reaches a certain measure of success is to be considered suspect and undesirable.

  14. Posted by jim

    Wanting a unique community is an understandable desire. So is the fostering of local entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, the bigger issue is basic constitutional freedom. You know the famous liberal first amendment quote, “I don’t agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”? Why is there no equivalent when it comes to the freedom to make a buck? Or rather, 10 bucks, but not 11? If there is a business in your town you don’t like, don’t spend your money there! Rally your friends and neighbors to do the same. That is freedom. Laws like this are really no different than the Muslim bakery members who smashed up the liquor store in Oakland in the name of protecting the community. Liberals–and I count myself one–must walk a mile in a business owner’s shoes, or a landlord’s shoes, once in a while, and not just the workers’ or the tenants’ shoes.

  15. Posted by dub dub

    jim — There is no law allowing smashing up a liquor store, while the “formula retail ordinace” is an existing law which probably resulted from “rallying your friends and neighbors”, etc.

    The ordinance might in fact suck, but the poor analogy weakens your argument ;)

    But revoking the permit sounds fishy. Anyone want to bet a crema-less northbeach espresso that there are political motives?:

    “Just last week Kwon was mentioned as a possible candidate for Tom Lantos’ seat in the 12th Congressional District. Kwon, a registered Democrat, would be running against former state Sen. Jackie Speier, a formidable opponent.

    Wheee! :)

  16. Posted by kaya

    To all who hammer on about the San Franciscans who see fit to limit the god given right of chain retailers to develop wherever they like:
    Either
    A) You have never lived in an area where the free market truly reigns, where every strip mall is inhabited by some subset permutation of 20 chain retailers, where huge swathes of land are occupied with houses whose floorplans are duplicated and reversed every other home, where 3 car garages dominate and walking is only to be done by housewives with itty bitty dumbells… or
    B) You already live there and like it. So just stay there and stop preaching already!
    The OP is a very nice quote from Marsha and completely indefensible. You’ll get me to agree that SF with all our myriad neighborhood groups is overzealous about the chainstore issue. But you’re naive to think we can support many without cheapening the city. Every place in San Francisco that has a large chain retail presence is one that lacks a neighborhood feel and is not a nice place to be for very long. The Marina is definitely not a good example because they have carefully managed chain stores’ presence.
    While a complete chainstore ban is silly, so is the idea of letting them develop amok.
    I think you all need to form a support group for disenfranchised chain store shoppers and meet at Applebees.

  17. Posted by chainy

    Marina is full of chains and still very nice. In fact, the just opened an Apple store (CHAIN!) there, and the neighborhood loves it.
    How has the Marina been carefully managing chain stores? I mean, come on, they have a Johnny Rockets. In fact, I’d say 60-70% of Chestnut is chains.

  18. Posted by Jimmy (Bitter Renter)

    I think many people are rebelling against “big box” retail chains (which are faceless and boring. But the retail space that’s available in a neighborhood like North Beach only supports small shops / cafes / restaurants — small square footage. No worries about Wal-Mart ever moving in there, they would have to spend about $1B to buy up enough land to build their store!
    So they passed a law– who cares what the number is? The crime here is issuing a permit, allowing the biz owner to sink his money into a lease and site renovations and then pulling the permit for some arbitrary (likely political) motive.
    The people responsible should be sued (very likely outcome since he is a lawyer) and forced to pay damages, costs and interest, and perhaps a sound thrashing is also in order to prevent this kind of abuse from happening again.

  19. Posted by Usually Named

    The use of lobbying government to put up barriers to competition is a tried-and-true business tactic.
    It’s ironic that this approach is implemented so well under a self-described “progressive” anti-business establishment in power in San Francisco.
    Either they’re a bunch of hypocrites or complete idiots. (I think it’s probably both).

  20. Posted by Jamie

    I think the political motiviation is part of the issue too. Not that he has a chance in the world of successfully beating Jackie so-and-so, but I have not doubt that selective enforcement of rules can happen based on such things as challenging the political machines in California.
    It is so silly to me that an entrepreneur who wants to start their small business with the benefits of franchising is smashed out of the neighborhood based on the number of franchises across the nation. If there were already 1 or 2 of said franchises in the neighborhood, then fine … they don’t need a 2nd or 3rd ….
    This City is wonderful in regard to personal freedoms … but it is becoming more and more draconian in regards to folks trying to make a living without working for Gap, Levi, Wells Fargo, or some other big corporation.

  21. Posted by fred

    Hey,
    You all voted this rule in. It was Proposition G in 2006, Limitations on Formula Retail Stores
    City of San Francisco
    See http://www.smartvoter.org/2006/11/07/ca/sf/meas/G/
    I think the application of the rule in granting a permit and then pulling it raises questions, but the supervisors are doing what you asked. So, be careful what you wish for. I think a lot of the propositions in California are feel good measures that have had unintended consequences (prop. 13, 3 strikes law, etc.)

  22. Posted by Usually Named

    “I think a lot of the propositions in California are feel good measures that have had unintended consequences (prop. 13, 3 strikes law, etc.)”
    Yep. Propositions are cheap short-circuit of the legislative branch, which should be doing the job of vetting these ideas.
    Now they can just punt on the “hard issues” (i.e. ones that can impact their re-electability) and look sparkling clean to their constituents.
    So, why should we pay for a Board of Supervisors if we have these this proposition system?
    Got me. Let’s cut their pay back to $30K.

  23. Posted by Jamie

    “Got me. Let’s cut their pay back to $30K.”
    Now there’s a proposition I wholeheartedly would support

  24. Posted by Jimmy (Bitter Renter)

    Let’s all band together and get that put on the ballot, shall we??
    “Proposition A: All city supervisors have their pay cut to $30k/yr. The money saved will be used to host a city-wide kegger in GG Park.”

  25. Posted by ChinaNobDweller

    According to the Ballot Argument, the 2006 SF Proposition G only requires a Conditional Use Permit for formula retail. Any additional restrictions are imposed by the Board of Supervisors. So, the best method for change is to make calls to Board President Peskin and other Supervisors about the need to expand the chain store limit.

    I still think we should keep Propositions – remember, they were started in California because of rampant corruption of legislative bodies. Even today the system, while sometimes abused does act as a check on our elected officials.

    BTW, can we stay on topic and cut out the snarkiness on the Board of Supervisors – Realistically, how would a pay cut to $30k/yr help SF politics? Do we really want a Board that is only populated by wealthy, self-financed individuals who don’t represent the majority of SF?

  26. Posted by ChinaNobDweller

    According to the Ballot Argument, the 2006 SF Proposition G only requires a Conditional Use Permit for formula retail. Any additional restrictions are imposed by the Board of Supervisors. So, the best method for change is to make calls to Board President Peskin and other Supervisors about the need to expand the chain store limit.

    I still think we should keep Propositions – remember, they were started in California because of rampant corruption of legislative bodies. Even today the system, while sometimes abused does act as a check on our elected officials.

    BTW, can we stay on topic and cut out the snarkiness on the Board of Supervisors – Realistically, how would a pay cut to $30k/yr help SF politics? Do we really want a Board that is only populated by wealthy, self-financed individuals who don’t represent the majority of SF?

  27. Posted by ComPropertyOwner

    Peskin and his gang would rather see vacant spaces in the hood. His new legislation would change the
    zoning in North Beach to a Restricted Alcohol Use
    district. This includes on sale and off sale BEER
    and WINE. Prohibition in North Beach and more vacant spaces;how does this service our community. Peskin also is changing the boundaries of the North Beach Zoning Map extending out a quarter mile. We didn’t vote on this….its Peskin’s Law.
    This is going on while he is stopping a yogurt shop from going in and filling a empty space.We
    all like yogurt and a glass of wine with our meal.
    Maybe a on line petition should be started so
    the Planning Commission knows Peskin does not
    represent the people that live and work here….and pay taxes.

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