In a blast from the political past, six members of the "Class of 2000" Board of Supervisors have penned a letter to the city's Planning Commission.
And they are not pleased.
Former Supes Matt Gonzalez, Chris Daly, Tony Hall, Sophie Maxwell, Jake McGoldrick, and Aaron Peskin yesterday sent a succinct missive regarding possible changes to the decade-old ordinance limiting formula retail stores from pervading San Francisco.
This is a complicated and controversial subject.
But, in a nutshell, the city considers a business with 11 or more outlets to be "formula retail" and subject to a far greater degree of scrutiny. That process varies from neighborhood to neighborhood; putting a chain store into a spot on Bayshore Boulevard is not akin to trying to shoehorn a Starbucks into North Beach.
In any event, the Planning Commission will today consider the recommendations of Planning Department staff to alter Gonzalez's legislation, and loosen the definition of "formula retail" from 11 establishments to 20.
Gonzalez and his colleagues are "deeply troubled" by this proposal "as it is without any rational justification."
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But, even more than that, Gonzalez et al. claim the Planning Department's attempts to alter the formula of the Formula Retail ordinance may not be entirely legal.
In 2006, 58 percent of San Francisco voters passed Proposition G, the "Small Business Protection Act." Within the text of this measure, "formula retail" was codified as 11 or more outlets -- and, per the electorate, any outfit bigger than that hoping to plant its flag in this city's neighborhoods is subject to a "conditional use process."
That measure "provided that the Conditional Use process could be strengthened by additional controls -- not weakened," reads the letter. To loosen that definition without going back to the people, claim Gonzalez et al., would be illegal.
A copy of this letter was also sent to the City Attorney. His staff, presumably, inveighed upon that legal claim prior to today's noontime Planning Commission meeting. So, it will be interesting to see what comes to pass today.
More when we know more.