February 18, 2011
Disputing Parking Demand, Trader Joe’s Continues Castro Outreach
A draft traffic study for the City which Trader Joe’s disputes estimates the store would draw up to 2,500 cars a day or 190 an hour while the capacity of the building’s garage is closer to 209 per day, leaving many neighbors (and the city) a bit concerned.
∙ Trader Joe’s Reportedly "Outed" From The Castro Over Traffic [SocketSite]
∙ Tensions flare over Trader Joe's parking [ebar.com]
First Published: February 18, 2011 6:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Hang in there, TJ's!
Screw Nimbys. They don't realize the positive impact this will have. More pedestrian traffic will mean more demands to make this area more pedestrian-friendly which in turn will make this area of Market an better place to live. Heck, I live 2 blocks away. I would be impacted.
Or we could just make do with - gasp - Mollie Stone's.
A fun factoid about Mollie Stone's: I was cycling on Lake last week-end and had to bypass a MS shuttle bus that was double-parked. It was loading up on retirees. Enough said.
Posted by: lol at February 18, 2011 9:03 AM
Trader Joe's has some stores which provide no parking--in Boston and in Manhatten; yet they refuse to even consider that option for this store. An urban store like that makes more sense fo this location.
Posted by: ccc at February 18, 2011 10:45 AM
ccc: the parking already exists (on top of the building). I agree with you that it might be easier if there was no parking at all. There is only parking "demand" where people expect the ability to park.
I've always felt that parking will be a non-issue at this location as soon as TJ shoppers realize how limited the parking is. The store will still do very well with neighborhood based shoppers.
But there could be kinks at the beginning, and those should be anticipated and dealt with.
Posted by: curmudgeon at February 18, 2011 11:28 AM
Other TJs stores have limited parking and it has NOT dampened the enthusiasm of shoppers to drive there and either queue up in a long line, or circle nearby streets searching for space. TJ's merchandise - especially those cases of wine they sell so much of - invites auto use.
The other end of this is the likelihood that nearby small grocers and corner stores wouldn't survive after TJs comes in, especially if they get unrestricted ability to sell beer and wine. Although we have few liquor stores in the neighborhood, most of the corner stores could not survive if their beer and wine business took a big hit. Losing those stores would irrevocably change the character of the neighborhood, and not for the better.
I think a TJs store COULD work here, but it needs to be the kind of urban, pedestrian-focused store that TJs is apparently unwilling to deliver. They could start by offering no parking (the parking lot on the roof could be public PAID parking without validation, or even monthly parking only for area residents, etc.) and choosing not to sell alcohol (it's pretty hard to argue that we NEED more cheap booze in the neighborhood) which would serve to both dramatically reduce the auto traffic and the need for cars, and reduce the impact on small neighborhood stores.
Do I think it will happen? Nah....
Posted by: Dubocian at February 18, 2011 11:47 AM
I would actually prefer to see the paid parking on the roof alternative you are proposing. Making that garage free is a bit of a nightmare.
However, I would not restrict sales of beer and wine. It's a different market than corner stores: corner stores are where you buy a bottle or a six on a whim at 11 PM. Except for the better corner stores, no one seriously expects to get a decent bottle of wine there. TJ's is where you go to buy a case of moderately priced reasonable quality hooch. (equivalent of bev mo...but less selection).
I expect the wine shops in the Castro will take a moderate hit, but they are, by and large, at a price point ABOVE TJ's, so I expect they've already taken most of the hit that they are going to from TJ's, BevMo, Costco, etc. They do well because of personal relationships with their customers and knowledgable service.
This is resurrecting an old comment, but if Harvest Market goes out of business because of TJ's, I don't think a lot of people will care. It's more whole paycheck than Whole Foods. But, regardless, I hope they'll adapt....there's a lot they do that TJ's doesn't in the realm of prepared foods.
Posted by: curmudgeon at February 18, 2011 12:00 PM
Corner stores in the area survived the concurrence of Delano's. They'll do fine with TJ's.
Posted by: lol at February 18, 2011 12:14 PM
Dubocian - TJ's won't compete for customers who want ready-to-chug chilled beer or wine since they don't refrigerate.
I agree that free or no parking would definitely reduce though not entirely eliminate the choice of driving to the store. People will learn that it is not too hard to tote a case of two buck Chuck on the back of a bike or in one of those grandma wheeled folding wire carts.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 18, 2011 12:47 PM
This has less to do with people opposing Trader Joe's (which everyone likes) than it does common sense. The Traffic Study has facts, not wishes (like people will not drive there.) All development is not good for every location folks. You can't drop a 20,000 square foot Trader Joe's (as described by Trader Joe's at meeting) into congested and dangerous intersection bordering quiet streets.
They can do outreach all they want, but I hope it involves free Two Buck Chuck for all, because the facts are daunting. People need to be drunk to look the other way. Popular appeal can't over-ride the need to insure public safety.
Despite the Planning Department's recent foray into delegating responsibility for traffic safety over to grocery stores - it will never fly.
Posted by: Facts Matter Too at February 18, 2011 2:50 PM
"Public safety". You must be one of the neighbors. I thought we lived in a city, which by definition, includes traffic, crowds, noise, etc. Maybe you should move to a farm.
Posted by: 94114 at February 18, 2011 2:53 PM
Wow. Good thing "Facts Matter Too" wasn't there in 1906. He'd have opposed the rebuilding of the City on grounds that it would bring excessive donkey traffic.
The less TJ's we have, the more people will use their cars to go to them. Because most live too far from them (like me). The more TJ's, the less cars. Duh.
Posted by: lol at February 18, 2011 3:10 PM
The smallest TJs I know of is the one out by Hickey/El Camino, which is probably less than 20K sqft.
Posted by: EH at February 18, 2011 3:20 PM
It is so funny how people make "NIMBY" a bad word. Like folks are crazy to expect pedestrian safety, streets not filled with idling cars, small local stores not just German corporate grocers - and parking somewhere near their house.
The assumption is that all development, any development, lots of development, in every direction, is always the best thing. Think it through folks.
Healthy communities require that people care enough to ask questions, and to say "No Thanks" when they are being fed a line of myths and half truths. Trader Joe's knows it is a high volume business and it requires lots of cars. It is patently dishonest to claim otherwise.
And the myth of foot traffic helping local business only makes sense if you assume people are going to fill their trunk with melting frozen foods then go shopping or dine at local restaurants.
NIMBY should stand for Needed Information Matters Before YES ...is said and project approved by neighborhood.
Posted by: Think It Thru at February 18, 2011 4:37 PM
I am actually of the exact opposite opinion. If the proposed project meets the zoning requirements of the space then it should be approved with no input whatsoever from neighbors.
If you want to live in a quiet residential neighborhood (as I do now) then you should buy a house or apartment with appropriate local zoning (as I did).
Conversely, if you live in an area that is zoned commercial or mixed-use, you've made your choice and should not have one iota of input on what businesses goes where.
That is the job of the zoning and planning board, not nosy neighbors.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at February 18, 2011 4:43 PM
"I am actually of the exact opposite opinion. If the proposed project meets the zoning requirements of the space then it should be approved with no input whatsoever from neighbors."
Exactly. All of this discretionary review BS and neighborhood comment nonsense is completely unnecessary and should be eliminated. That's why we have zoning requirements and planning requirements. Why do we ignore them?
The processes in this town are broken and constantly get hijacked by busybody NIMBYs (yes, that's a 4-letter word) who are against pretty much any improvement to our city. The same kind of people who can't "think it thru" that maybe Masonic has long parking queues because the NIMBYs won't allow more Trader Joe's stores anywhere. Apparently the Castro should be more like St. Francis Wood.
Posted by: sfrenegade at February 18, 2011 5:04 PM
" If the proposed project meets the zoning requirements"...
The project does not meet the basic 'permitted' requirements for this neighborhood commercial district. It needs at least 2 'conditional use' approvals, which trigger the public hearings:
1. To exceed the permitted use size of 5,999 square feet.
2. To install a Formula Retail use.
3. (?) Not providing off-street loading area.
4. (?) New curb cut on Market Street for loading.
Posted by: ccc at February 18, 2011 5:25 PM
Furthermore, only people who hold a financial stake in the outcome of the permitting process should be permitted to have any input at all. That is to say, the owners of the land, the owners of the proposed business, and the OWNERS of immediately adjacent properties (but only in the case of a conditional-use permit application).
Renters, neighborhood groups, some guy living in a back alley -- all irrelevant as they have no FINANCIAL stake in the outcome. Pay nothing, get nothing.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at February 18, 2011 5:32 PM
"Renters, neighborhood groups, some guy living in a back alley -- all irrelevant as they have no FINANCIAL stake in the outcome. Pay nothing, get nothing."
I'd agree with back alley and neighborhood, but not renters. As I've mentioned numerous times, renters are a proxy for owners and have a duty not to commit waste on a property (which may include opposing a project on legitimate grounds on behalf of the owner).
Posted by: sfrenegade at February 18, 2011 5:43 PM
"Trader Joe's knows it is a high volume business and it requires lots of cars."
High volume yes. But there's no reason that their customers are required to use cars.
Sure, cars can be convenient for "big load" shopping. But their convenience doesn't make them a requirement. Limit parking and the convenience goes down and more customers will switch to other modes and make more frequent trips for smaller loads. We Merkins seem to be brainwashed into thinking that a proper grocery shopping trip results in a dozen+ sacks of merchandise.
No doubt that a new retailer will put more pressure on the available public street parking. But hey, that parking was put there for use by the public after all. There are a couple of techniques that can be used to make it easier to find a parking spot : reducing the time limit and increasing the price.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 18, 2011 5:51 PM
sfrenegade -- you're wrong on this one. Renters are transient second-class citizens and should be treated as such when it comes to imposing their wills on Owners who have a financial stake in the property itself.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at February 18, 2011 7:06 PM
Let me clarify that a bit. A renter's financial interest does not extend beyond the four walls delineating the property they rent. They are free to mitigate any adverse change to the neighborhood at no cost to themselves by simply moving when their lease expires.
An owner, in contrast, has to suffer the economic gain or loss in the value of their property as a result of the permanent changes to the neighborhood.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at February 18, 2011 7:10 PM
So since Trader Joe's is only planning to rent the space they should have no say in any issues, such as traffic and parking, outside the four walls of their space?
Posted by: tc_sf at February 18, 2011 9:10 PM
Agreed about the zoning. Agreed about renters who should have no say in private property matters.
You make choices in life. Owning or renting is one of them. And it should provide you with rights or lack of thereof.
I moved into a place 3 years ago as a renter and received a letter right away from a neighbor explaining the extension of his adjacent building. I was in shock I would be asked for my opinion. Why should I object? It's his business. Why would he even ask my landlord also puzzles me. He owns the land. As long as he respects building/zoning codes, I thought he should be allowed build an emerald Taj Mahal if he wanted to.
With overly generous renter protection and rent control, a renter has become a landlord-by-proxy. He even has to receive compensation if the lease is terminated by the landlord by an Ellis act! Pure and simple confiscation.
The fact of the matter is that many in this city are devastated at not being able to live in a perfect little marxist society. Their last option is to grind their teeth and punish whoever has a foothold in the property world.
Posted by: lol at February 18, 2011 10:02 PM
@tc_sf: correct. TJ's landlord would presumably advocate for the changes on behalf of their client in this case, assuming the landlord feels that the resulting lease agreement would represent the best use of the property that he owns. Trader Joe's themselves would have no say in that process beyond a private agreement (e.g. a letter of intent) with the landlord.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at February 19, 2011 7:51 AM
I don't care if tractor-trailers are blocking the bike lane! Bikes should have duke it out with heavy motorized traffic. Safety shmafety. Learn to ride like a gladiator or get a freakin' car like normal people! I need my Two Buck Chuck at all costs!
Posted by: driver at February 19, 2011 11:35 AM
Agree with the idea of charging for parking in this location. Charge $5 per hour and give the proceeds to a neighborhood organization, perhaps to support the nearby community park or to make streetscape improvements. As a neighborhood resident, I would very much like to stop off at TJ's on my way home (from muni or bike) to pick up a few things. If I am going to load up on cases of wine and stockpile canned goods, I can drive over to another location with free parking -- or brave the *existing* parking lot and pay the fee. BTW, there is a TJ's in Clovis or Fresno I went to last year that is the size of a Mailboxes, Etc. Maybe 4,000 sqf.
Posted by: xavier at February 19, 2011 12:11 PM
I didn't know trolls could drive.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 19, 2011 12:54 PM