Having survived a mortgage scare back in 2009, Chicken John Rinaldi was able to maintain possession of his Mission District “Chez Poulet” at 3359 Cesar Chavez Street.

And while Chez Poulet has long operated as a gathering and performance space for the local arts community, Chicken John has recently been the target of a number of complaints related to the building’s use, which isn’t permitted as such, and illegal overnight rentals and short-term stays (which appear to have since ceased).

But as proposed by Chicken John, Chez Poulet’s existing event space will be legalized and a hotel room for short-term stays will be formally established on the building’s second floor. And the plans to once again save Chez Poulet could be approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission on September 14.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Unlivable city

    No. Period. This notion in SF right now that anyone can just barge into an area and do whatever they want regardless of the impact on neighbors much less zoning and use violations is BAD. It needs to stop. Where is the leadership?

  2. Posted by ChickinLiving

    It’s a 1-room hotel….hardly reason to fall apart “unlivable city” …..

  3. Posted by Bern

    Interior sort of has a ghost ship vibe. Does anybody know the original use of the building?

    • Posted by Notcom

      It looks like it was a warehouse for the Western States Grocery Co or at least it was from an early date; the records say a build date of 1910, but whether/not it was thus from 1910-1922 as well, I can’t say.

      The next question: why is that building to its right (i.e. west) set back from the street and at a weird angle?

      • Posted by Mutal Kudi
        • Posted by Notcom

          Thank you !! Clearly this is worrying a lot of people, perhaps an informational plaque should be placed on its front 🙂 (I might also add my own theory on the setback: that it provided side(door) access to 3359)

    • Posted by T

      it is absolutely NOTHING like the ghost ship. The building is very nice and up to code. This is a community space legally rented for legal events. i had my wedding reception there. No one lives there.

  4. Posted by Mutal Kudi

    I lived in close proximity to Chicken John for more than a decade, and had absolutely no problems with his space whatsoever. If anything, it was quite entertaining to see the types of characters and events going on at his place. I had young kids at the time and we were never bothered. Hopefully the planning commission will show some sense and approve his proposal, and thumbs down to whoever complained about him.

  5. Posted by NoeNeighbor

    I think it is hilarious that Chicken John who is always trying to regulate others couldn’t be bothered to follow the rules himself (until he was caught of course).

    • Posted by robert

      Chicken John was always a charlatan. Staging a “barf-in” when Blue Bottle was approved to have a kiosk at Dolores Park, claiming that it was all about the commercialization of the parks, and neither admitting his romantic relationship with Eileen of Ritual Roasters (now his wife) nor staging any sort of protest towards the other food trucks in the park? Bleh. This guy reeks of dishonesty.

  6. Posted by marco

    So why can’t the Hive at 651 Dolores also have a non-conforming use? Is it because Chicken John is Arts for which SF will bend over backward, but 651 Dolores is not? What is the point of having zoning rules if only some special class people get to break the rules?

    • Posted by Notcom

      Perhaps it’s this property’s proximity to a commercial area, or other site -specific considerations. But honestly, that’s really the whole point of hearings and variances: to weight the individual circumstances. One could of course have an ironclad “no exemptions” rule, but I think there would be at least a person or two – or 138,519 – who would object to that “letter of the law” approach.

  7. Posted by HuskyDown

    I’ve been to events in that space and is indeed quite cool. That said, as noted above, Chicken John is a total charlatan. His ridiculous – and sadly successful – antics around stopping a Blue Bottle kiosk in Dolores Park over claims of being anti-gentrification/anti-corporate (as opposed to the truth, his girlfriend owned Ritual Roasters) should bar him from life from getting legally run an AirBnB.

    Sadly, the SF Radical Chic class will likely support this and everyone involved will get to virtue signal their support for helping to “save” the “Arts” in SF.

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