Graffiti at Fillmore and California, where fashion may replace a laundromat.
AS FILLMORE STREET continues to rapidly remake itself into a mecca for fashion labels from around the world, supplanting basic neighborhood services, legislation has been introduced at City Hall that would subject more businesses to the city’s limits on chain stores.
Under the existing “formula retail” ordinance — enacted by the voters in 2008 to limit the proliferation of chain stores in the city’s neighborhoods — businesses must obtain a conditional use permit to open on upper Fillmore if they have 11 or more stores in the U.S.
New legislation introduced by District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell would amend the ordinance to include stores located not only in the U.S., but anywhere in the world. That would affect companies that have numerous stores in other countries, but are just beginning to establish a presence in the U.S.
“After hearing from both our merchants and neighbors in the Upper Fillmore about concerns that large retailers were pushing out our smaller and unique ‘mom and pop’ type of stores,” Farrell said, “I introduced legislation to expand the definition of formula retail.”
The legislation would also extend the law to include new businesses started by formula retail companies, whether or not they currently have 11 or more stores. This has been an approach favored by companies such as the Gap, which opened Athleta on Fillmore, and Starbucks, which opened Evolution Fresh.
Farrell’s proposal would apply only to the Upper Fillmore Neighborhood Commercial District, which extends from Bush to Jackson streets.
Similar efforts have been launched in other neighborhoods, including nearby Hayes Street. In response, the Planning Department has resisted neighborhood-specific legislation and instead proposed that the proposals be delayed while a study is conducted to develop uniform rules.
Farrell’s legislative assistant Catherine Stefani said her office would press forward with the legislation despite the Planning Department’s move for a citywide law.
“We have told Planning that we plan to proceed with the legislation despite the study because we felt that it was urgent to do so,” Stefani said.
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