Market and Noe Center (Image Source:
Despite a recent outreach campaign, according to a plugged-in source, Trader Joe’s has withdrawn their application to open a store at the Market and Noe Center (2280 Market) in the Castro and San Francisco’s Planning Department has closed the file.
Disputing Parking Demand, Trader Joe’s Continues Castro Outreach [SocketSite]
Trader Joe’s Reportedly “Outed” From The Castro Over Traffic [SocketSite]
Trader Joe’s In The Castro Currently Stymied By A Shack [SocketSite]
Out With Tower Records (Three Years Ago), In With Trader Joe’s? [SocketSite]

89 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s Withdraws Application For Castro Store”
  1. It came down to 2 things: people finally read the traffic study; and Trader Joe’s was unwilling to change their “model” to fit in this urban neighborhood.
    Planning Department staff also raised serious concerns about the project; and public files at the department show that even as the hearing date approached, many unanswered questions remained. Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA) staff reviewed the draft traffic study and found serious deficiencies. In a 4 page letter, MTA requested clarification on specific findings; and noted that the proposed loading area on Market Street did not conform to the Planning Code.
    The Director of Planning, John Rahaim, also requested that Trader Joe’s incorporate several item into the project, including a market basket study to address economic impacts. A similar basket study was prepared by Whole Foods as part of their recent application to locate in the neighborhood. Rahaim also requested that several transportation demand management practices be incorporated. Those included close collaboration with a delivery/shuttle service, easily accessible bicycle storage, installation of a parking guidance /pedestrian alert system, sidewalk and curb improvements, and management of any queuing on Noe Street.

  2. Hmmm…
    So this location is only zoned for unsuccessful businesses that will not draw traffic.

  3. I’m so relieved that I can continue driving a couple of miles crosstown to my nearest Trader Joe’s instead of walking a few blocks. That way, I can keep my car in good shape.

  4. market basket study to address economic impacts
    Yes, the economic impact would be tremendous, like adding a store that people actually WANT instead of a useless Molly Stone’s that is nothing more than a Safeway for the elderly.
    Sigh, I guess I’ll go on shopping to 9th street.

  5. So many rules and “studies” required by our well-fed public employees that even a company like Trader Joe’s, which has employees skilled in dealing with petty bureaucracy, could not wade through it all.

  6. My real estate agent told me practically everyone in the city has loads of money and enjoys overpaying for eveything. So honestly, I doubt anyone in SF ever even goes to TJs.
    They would probably prefer Dean and Deluca.

  7. Only 6 posts before real estate bashing on a post that isn’t even about selling anything or market trends. That has got to be a record.

  8. From time to time I’ve heard rumors of a Trader Joe’s at Van Ness and Sutter someday (replacing the old theater). Just wondering if anyone knows anything about that?

  9. I’m confident MTA handled this appropriately, based on how well MUNI is run. Maybe cars wouldn’t queue on Noe now if we had decent public transportation. Sometimes I hate this city I love.

  10. “Only 6 posts before real estate bashing . . .”
    And 4 of the first 5 comments involve mindless bashing of public employees and attacks on the very concept of city planning.
    The free-marketeers are goofier than a Micky Mouse sidekick.
    I guess we should just let the free market decide to how plan cities. Maybe we can sprinkle some of that free market fairy dust over the Castro and we will all be able to drive our Suburbans and park on the street without paying for it–just like the free market havens of Houston and Baghdad. Why can’t we just trust corporations to do what’s right for the city?

  11. @crazyme: TJ’s was scheduled to be included in a new mixed-use building at Van Ness and Sutter, not the existing theater. Project fell through in 2008, surprising no-one.

  12. Mixed feelings on this one. I hate NIMBY’s as much as the next guy, but it does seem like they could’ve adjusted their business model to a more pedestrian friendly mode. The parking and queueing at both the 9th and Masonic stores is ridiculous enough, and I can only imagine it would’ve been as bad or worse here with more density in the surrounding neighborhoods. People claiming that this would’ve reduced car traffic don’t know much about people with cars. The only thing that’ll get them to walk is zero parking.

  13. my trader joe’s haul every 10-14 days is about 2 bags which fits in a car’s trunk. i buy the same amount at the farmer’s market every week or so which i cart home via the J church or by foot (if i go to alemany).
    count me among the disappointed drivers who prefer to walk or ride when the commute even approaches time neutrality.
    i wonder how the planning department calculated how many tj shoppers are also either castro/duboce residents or muni users on a convenient feeder line who would prefer to walk? i see a lot of zip cars and tattoos at trader joe’s.
    and i doubt parking could have been any worse then the queue of svus waiting to get a spot at whole foods on 24th every single day.

  14. This is a wonderful result. I’m hoping that this storefront either sits empty for an extended period of time or that an overpriced tenant that most people don’t want to shop at comes along. That way, the economic growth of our city will be ensured.

  15. The Blockbuster on Church will soon be vacant….did you hear that Trader Joe’s?
    Good sized building with plenty of parking.
    This location might be better received by everyone (except Safeway).

  16. SFHawkguy,
    I am against 100% free marketers too. Perfect free markets always end up with Monopolies, which is the whole point of the board game. TJ’s would break the monopoly that the “good-ole-boys” of Safeway and others have created almost everywhere.
    Back to the issue of the Castro TJ’s: a city with numerous affordable grocery stores would be a more pedestrian/bicycle friendly city, as people would be close enough to the place they actually want to shop to make driving a bad solution.
    All TJs in SF are far away from any significant rail. People mostly drive to them. Only neighbors walk to them. A few do cycle, but this requires real dedication.
    If we had more TJs or similar quality discount stores, there would be less car traffic. Of course any new one would be stormed. But we have to start somewhere.

  17. This location might be better received by everyone (except Safeway).
    Safeway on Bay street is 1/2 block away from TJ’s, but it is doing fine.

  18. I really don’t think this is a good time to be nitpicking every potential new business to death. As of yesterday, I had been out of town for 6 months, and the amount of new vacant storefronts is very noticeable. SF isn’t looking so hot right now. We have a lot more on the way as well (Borders).

  19. The Blockbuster site? Just looked at an aerial map… looks perfect. Too logical. It’ll never happen.

  20. lol,
    Based on your comments, you’re a huge free marketeer–or neofeudalist. You views on renting and landlording demonstrate this perfectly.
    Plus, you’re one of the commentators in the last thread (the “Disputing parking demand. . . ” post, linked to above) that didn’t want the community involved in planning issues such as this, right? The neighbors and community should have no say! Especially the non productive elderly!
    And didn’t you argue that only those with a financial interest should have a say in planning issues? Forget all this hippy talk about “stakeholders” (which is not a good term anyway), it should be all about the “stockholders” or owners. If you don’t got the cash, sit down and shut up NIMBY.
    Plus, didn’t you argue that renters do not have a financial interest in planning matters and therefore are not worthy of participating in our democracy when it comes to planning? However, your free marketeer friends concluded that renters do indeed have a financial stake, at least in this case. Of course, their conclusion that renters should have a say in this case is partly because renters, evidently, have a ‘duty’ to watch over property on behalf of the landed gentry and therefore are proxies for the owners and have the owner’s financial interests in mind.* You normally are hostile to renters and want to disenfranchise them but when renters are huge multinational corporations you want them to have the primary voice in our democracy.
    *as opposed to renters having their own property interest which is consistent with centuries of western jurisprudence. Your notions of renting and landlording sound a lot like neofuedalism and I suggest you rethink your arguments that landlording is a noble occupation when in fact it is rent-seeking non productive activity.

  21. The blockbuster lot has less parking than the TJ’s site.
    This city is doomed, plain and simple. Lets just continue to ask everyone and their grandmother about every possible change. Consensus is just around the corner… from empty storefront after empty storefront.
    But hey, how about a vegan, macrobiotic, worker owned artisanal thimble cooperative! Wow, just suggesting that on a public forum made me feel like I solved the whole thing!

  22. You can’t find parking in that area whether there’s a TJ’ or not, people would have had to walk there. That was going to be the customer base, period.
    I don’t understand why the parking issue killed the deal, as there is no parking anyway.

  23. SFHawkguy,
    I am for social engineering, but only when it doesn’t increase the problems it tries to fix. Rent control and prop 13 are creating more problems than they solve. Artificial affordable housing is making housing more expensive for the majority. Abuses and distortions created by excessive social engineering are the fuel that the right is using to throw everything away.
    And about renters having less say than owners, I’m for it. If they want to complain about a neighbor’s addition, they can go to their landlord who will then communicate with the neighbor. But under the current system, BOTH the tenant and the landlord have a say (One property, two voices), when the tenant could be gone overnight, the landlord has to live with the consequences of his old tenant choices.
    And about “huge multinational corporations”, sorry to break it to you, but without an incentive, no food gets produced or distributed. Economies of scale actually help reduce greenhouse emissions for produce: that farmer’s market apple you buy uses many times what you see at big distributor, simply because the farmer used his pick-up truck to haul his 100Lbs of apples. But should food distributors have a monopoly like Safeway? Nope. They’re too big and are too much in control to respect their client’s well being.

  24. Back east, the supermarkets had free phones that directly linked to the local car service (like a fixed price taxicab). That way, people could walk or take public transit to the market and be driven home.
    This was very useful for families (want to take 10 bags on Muni?) and the elderly. Car service is typically much less expensive than a taxi.
    Maybe something similar could be incorporated into the plan.

  25. SFHawkguy, you seem more interested in naming people as being of a particular ideology and trying to put their distorted versions of their views into a bucket rather than truly discussing the issues at hand. I’ve noticed this on a number of threads on SocketSite, but this one takes the cake.
    People are allowed to have nuanced positions on topics and don’t need to be absolutists like you. In addition, context matters — we are talking about businesses vs. residences. From what I can tell, neither lol nor I are rampant free marketers, but we disagree with you, so you incorrectly put us in that bucket.
    I personally disagree that neighborhoods should be allowed to comment to the extent that they are allowed on both commercial businesses entering the city and renovations of residences. With respect to the former, the wonderful NIMBYism here does a good job of increasing everyone’s costs for goods by opposing any change in the neighborhood.
    We need more Trader Joe’s in the city so fewer people need to drive to one, but the NIMBYs campaign to prevent additional stores from entering the city so that people need to drive to them. There is so little parking in this neighborhood that many people who want to drive to a Trader Joe’s would go to one of the other stores anyway, but everyone seems to ignore that fact.

  26. lol,
    For once, we’re not talking about rent control.*
    We’re talking about community based planning and whether renters should have the same say as owners in planning issues. You come down on the anti-democratic side and think property owners should have a greater say than renters. I disagree with you for a number of reasons: for one, I think it’s immoral to make a distinction based on property ownership. But your argument also fails to fairly consider the respective property interests of owning and renting.
    Renters have a property interest in their home. Period. You constantly subordinate this property interest while you exaggerate the property interest of landlords. Maybe you’ve heard the expression that property ownership is a bundle of sticks?** When you decide to become a landlord you are GIVING AWAY some of these sticks to the renter, who then possesses these sticks. Both landlord and tenant have property interests. It’s unfair to just give democratic rights to one group. It is specially unfair to put our finger on the landlord side of the scale because landlords are rent-seeking monopolists (or proxy monopolists) that provide no added-value.
    Lastly, you’re wrong about the economies of scale when you argue that the Wall Marts and Trader Joes are good for the environment. Sure, the economy of scale helps the multi-national corporation make big profits. But these profits don’t cover the externalities like the use of oil or fertilizers and toxins and their ability to get cheap labor. My corner store (on 30th and Church) provides competitively priced produce (in fact, I go there instead of Safeway or TJ or Whole Foods because it’s cheaper and better) and they probably get their food just from places as close or closer than TJ does. The produce store on Church by the Safeway at Market is another good example of this type of ma and pa store. I also get CSA box every other week, and pay more for that, but the food comes from the Davis area, so that is far better for the environment. And the local produce stores and my CSA box are both better at supporting local workers. We are better off with ma and pa stores rather than big multinationals like Wall Mart or Trader Joes.
    *And if we were talking about rent control I would repeat the simple point that owners get far more socially engineered subsidies, like the mortgage interest deduction, capital gains exemptions, home buyer credits, fed purchase of CDOs, fed subsidized interest rates, etc., that pale in comparison to rent control.
    ** See here: “The bundle of rights is commonly taught in US first-year law school property classes to explain how a property can simultaneously be “owned” by multiple parties.”

  27. sfrenegade,
    There is so little parking in this neighborhood that many people who want to drive to a Trader Joe’s would go to one of the other stores anyway, but everyone seems to ignore that fact.
    Yes indeed. Plus the 9th street driving crowd wouldn’t compete with the now-walking crowd that would have their own store in the 94114. A TJ’s for drivers, one for walkers.
    I want to ditch my car. I haul 80% of my grocery and 100% of the produce by bicycle. For the remaining 20%, my car is collecting dust with a residential parking permit because I do not have a viable alternative for the remaining 20%.

  28. SFHawkguy,
    Interesting take on property rights. A tenant cannot tear down a house. The landlord can, if he chooses to. We need some sort of renter protection and a bill of rights of tenants, to the extent that they do not represent confiscation. SF’s take is beyond anything I have seen anywhere in the world. Even the French and Germans are less intrusive in their property rights.
    Heck, communism died the day the Chinese started allowing private ownership. They understood that to house/feed everyone they had to provide some carrot instead of the stick of the Great Leap Forward of yesteryear.
    Comparing Walmarts and Trader Joe’s? Wow. When TJ’s become as big as 10% of WM, I might change my tune. But right now this argument doesn’t hold water.

  29. “There is so little parking in this neighborhood that many people who want to drive to a Trader Joe’s would go to one of the other stores anyway, but everyone seems to ignore that fact.”
    I don’t think it’s being ignored. The professionals that studied the subject simply came to a different conclusion than you did.
    Can sfrenegade or any other Trader Joes supporters show how the study exaggerates driving customers? If there won’t be many driving customers why don’t they go the paid parking route? That seems like an easy solution. How does the experience with the Trader Joes on Masonic or 9th St. factor in? Aren’t those places known to be difficult to park in yet there is still a line of people trying to get in to park? Isn’t Market St. at Castro a much more congested area to begin with than the Masonic or 9th?
    My anecdotal experience is a bit different than lol or sfrenegade. I hardly ever use the car for shopping, except for bimonthly trips to TJ on 9th, and occasionally on Masonic. I drive to those locations whereas I walk to the corner store or Safeway or Whole Foods for my normal shopping. I would probably drive to the Castro TJ instead of going to 9th St. I assume long lines to get into the parking lot is part of the TJ experience and would probably still drive to the Castro store even though I knew it would be a hassle to park (it would be closer for me–as it would be for most of Cole Vally, Upper Market, Twin Peaks, Noe, Inner Sunset neighborhoods, etc.).
    Are there any substantive critiques of the parking study? Was it based on invalid surveys? On was the past experience with other TJs in the city not accurate? Surely, people understand this is one of the densest areas of the city (if not the country) and it is not like dumping a TJ into a suburban park.

  30. SFHawkguy,
    My advice: Sturdy bike: $300 second hand, $700 new. Safety gear: $200. 2 folding baskets: $50. You’d probably go faster overall too when parking is in the equation. The 9th street TJ’s is in the flatlands though a bit hairy when it comes to car traffic. But once I’m on Harrison it’s usually safe.

  31. lol,
    You can’t tear down the house if you’ve given away some sticks in you bundle, i.e., rented the house out. The renter has probably the most important stick in the entire bundle: exclusive possession of the property. You can’t store your crap there either–you sold away that right. You also gave up your right to even set foot on your property whenever you want. Your tenant can exclude you except under limited conditions. Your tenant, unless he has agreed not to, can sublease his house to anyone he wants. He is more king of the castle than you are for the period of the lease.
    These are not socialist rules; this is the common law in our capitalist system!

  32. “a useless Molly Stone’s that is nothing more than a Safeway for the elderly” Excuse me, but that is so wrong. First of all Molly Stone’s is way more expensive on most counts, but that said it has some specialty items (including meat and fish) that make it a destination. I personally shop at Safeway, Molly Stone’s, Trader Joe’s, Real Foods, Costco (try their filet mignon at $11 a pound) farmers markets and and Cost Plus … yes Cost Plus … for food. Quit typing people and purveyors. It simply doesn’t work that way for those of us that like to eat and will drive to the place that will provide quality and price.

  33. lol,
    I buy about 4 or 5 bags worth of groceries on these trips and get heavy items. I hardly ever use a car, and use City Car Share or Zip Car when I do. I only go every few weeks because I stock up when I go. I buy my daily produce and other food from neighborhood stores where I walk to pick up my food. I also usually combine another stop with the TJ run–because if I’m renting a car I want to take advantage of it.
    Again, if Trader Joes wants to support bike transport it would simply make the parking garage a pay service, it would install more bike parking, and it would move the Market St. loading area so it wouldn’t impact the Market St. bike lanes, probably one of the most traveled bike lanes in the country.

  34. Oceangoer,
    I go primarily to TJ’s, but also to Safeway, WF and… Cost Plus for very few limited items. Produce: the Mission and sometimes WF.
    I haven’t found much at Mollie Stone’s that I couldn’t find at Safeway.

  35. As someone who actually READ the 308-page traffic study, multiple times, I can tell you that in my opinion, it had a lot of deficiencies, but correcting them would have resulted in significantly HIGHER traffic projections for the TJs store.
    All of the folks who argue that “everyone would walk to the store” are forgetting that this would also have become the most convenient TJs for thousands and thousands of folks who live in Noe Valley, the Haight, Twin Peaks, Corbett Heights, and points west — areas outside of practical walking range. The study did a reasonable job of estimating where the customers would come from, and concluded that even with a large portion of the customers coming from nearby, the store would still generate thousands of auto trips per day.
    But I don’t believe it was even this issue that scared TJs away. The Planning Department sent them a letter a couple of weeks ago indicating that they’d be required to pay for almost a million dollars in improvements to the Market/Noe/16th St. intersection as part of their project approval. MTA weighed in that TJs loading plan (which was to pull their big semi trucks up onto the Market St. bike lane and unload there) was not legal under the Planning Code. And MTA read the traffic study and raised some very legitimate concerns about it. Finally, TJs was asked to provide some data to analyze their effect on the small grocers and corner stores in the area, similar to what was required of Whole Foods before their store was approved. TJs balked at all of this.
    I think a lot of people get so wrapped up in their love for Trader Joe’s (and who doesn’t like Trader Joe’s?) that they ignored the very real problems with this specific proposal.

  36. “Can sfrenegade or any other Trader Joes supporters show how the study exaggerates driving customers?”
    That’s asking the wrong question and we shouldn’t even have to get there. The question for me is why we should care in the first place. End the NIMBYism. Make planning have identifiable criteria that make sense instead of having absurd requirements that essentially require every project to have discretionary review.
    However, if you want a critique of the study itself, the study doesn’t make sense:
    “But neighbors expressed concern over parking and transit, particularly in light of a draft traffic study that found that the store would draw 2,100 to 2,500 cars per day, or 160 to 190 per hour.
    Those cars would require 1,050 to 1,250 parking spaces per day, but the building’s garage can only accommodate 209 per day, the study says. On-street parking in the area is limited. The building is at Market and Noe streets.”
    Even assuming the study is accurate as to the number of cars, why would you need 1050 spaces per day if have 160-190 cars per hour? There is natural turnover when people leave.
    “I would probably drive to the Castro TJ instead of going to 9th St. I assume long lines to get into the parking lot is part of the TJ experience and would probably still drive to the Castro store even though I knew it would be a hassle to park (it would be closer for me–as it would be for most of Cole Vally, Upper Market, Twin Peaks, Noe, Inner Sunset neighborhoods, etc.).”
    So you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution? If anything, your statement is a good argument to allow Trader Joe’s. 🙂

  37. The views of sfhawkguy are sufficient widely held in our People’s Rupublic of Yerba Buena to discourage any sane individual from buying rental residential property. Corporations and other entities powerful and rich enough to negotiate the socialist-shark infested waters can try.
    The rest of us will invest elsewhere, just as the socialists have instructed. There is no point in fighting; life is not long enough.

  38. sfhawkguy-
    market at noe (not castro) is hardly “one of the densest areas of the city” and certainly not one of the densest in the country, (density usually requires vertical development like manhattan or waikiki). that said, if tj’s can manage a store at broadway and 72 in manhattan, i suspect market and noe could have worked.
    if your corner store is the same church and 30th market i use then you realize that the J church would have let you off 2 blocks from this site which is likely significantly less then your current walk to safeway on mission or the whole foods on 24th.
    i can’t change your choice to continue driving and waiting for parking vs. hopping a train, but many of us would have liked a different choice. i can pretty much guarantee i’d have been one less car on the road or in the 9th street garage if i could get to tjs by a train with no transfer. and from the demographic in the tj on 9th i suspect there are hundreds of shoppers like me.

  39. As someone else astutely pointed out, we cannot add more trader joes in the city until there are more trader joes in the city to discourage driving.
    Since we cannot add new trader joes, this project should be disproved.

  40. modernedwardian,
    I hop on a train way more than I take a car. I commute by train or bike. As does my wife. We don’t even use a car to transport our child to day care. About the only reason I use a car is to haul heavy items. I go to TJ for the bulk dry goods, frozen foods, and other “pantry” items. I usually have 4 to 6 bags full of stuff. Taking the J would not be easy for me. It’s easier to walk the .4 to pick up the car and drive the car and then walk the .4 back to my home. I bet there are lots of other households that use TJ to stock up and buy large amounts of food.
    The other food shopping I do only results in one or two bags–perfect for walking or taking public transport. I shop for produce at the corner store (again–a great value) and get my CSA box every other week in the neighborhood. I walk to Safeway to get milk and cheese and meat, etc. I go to Whole Foods for special occasions (to buy good fish, popcorn, brewer’s yeast, etc.) or when I’m lazy. I would never buy 4 or 5 bags from Whole Foods because I don’t have an extra grand laying around.
    Therefore, it’s easier to do my daily shopping in the neighborhood by walking but it wouldn’t work for my Trader Joes trips.

  41. sfrenegade,
    You’re asking the wrong question and you’ve got it completely backward. There are clear rules in place. As pointed out to you in the last thread:
    “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.”
    Trader Joes is the one asking for the rules to be ignored in this instance.
    So again, why is the study incorrect? If Trader Joes wants special exemptions from the rules shouldn’t we consider the impact of doing so? Or do corporate interests always trump the public interest? Or are they one and the same?

  42. That space is a problem. TJs would have created serious traffic problems – I can grasp that. But what can go in this big space that wouldn’t? It would have to be something that can use that large space but does not generate the people/car traffic volume. A restaurant? Tiffanys? Just kidding, but it would have to be a higher-margin, lower volume business, not something that needs 8 cashiers.

  43. “As pointed out to you in the last thread:”
    Yes, and if you note my qualification — I said we need to know that those rules make sense and that those rules don’t result in an undue number of extra reviews. It’s not clear that they do. The complications here seem to be all natural parts of living in the city, and coincidentally ones that NIMBYs always complain about. There’s nothing wrong with a curb cut, for example, and plenty of those crappy mom ‘n’ pop shops that people are trying to save are allowed to load on the street.
    Again, stop throwing out strawmen. You’re the only saying anything about corporate interests always trumping the public interest, not me. You still don’t really seem to be interested in actual discussion but rather in implying that people who disagree with you are extremists. That’s not a civil way to discuss, so I’m done with you.

  44. sfhawkguy-
    my point was NOT to criticize your shopping habits; you seem to use your car much less then i do from your description. i’d like to use my car less. this would have let me.
    no-one is THE demographic.
    for me the store would have worked and it would thus have worked for you as well. (once you found the parking wait at noe intolerable you’d have gone back to 9th or masonic, which would have been easier for you as shoppers like me would no longer be there).
    for every household of loaders at tj, there is a least one (or more) of casual shoppers. i know this as i avoid the lines with heaping carts whenever i go and shop with a handbasket as do at least 1/2 of the other shoppers.
    people will drive less when they have better choices and driving is either really inconvenient and/or prohibitively expensive. to paraphrase what several of the other posters have said, “we won’t have choices until we have choices”.
    i’m not sure anyone can actually forecast what this store would have been like as impact reports tend to assume the status quo. that said, tj has succeeded in much denser urban areas. i’d have liked to see what would have happened here.

  45. good points modernedwardian,
    I know my usage is one anecdote, as is yours. I guess I was providing an anecdote that appears to back up the findings of the study; that many people would still drive to this Trader Joes location even with difficult parking.
    And it appears that Trader Joes could succeed here: if they give up on the free parking. I don’t know for sure but another commentator said that that TJ in Manhattan doesn’t offer free parking. So why do you think this one should? It seems like that is a critical fact you are missing when trying to compare the two locations.
    And it would be easy to imagine the negative impact of a line of cars spilling out onto Market and Noe streets. It may not be as dense as I first assumed, but it is a major thoroughfare and it would negatively impact the residents and other businesses, as the study found.
    The fact of the matter is it is Trader Joes that is saying they won’t do business here unless they are allowed to offer free parking to their customers.

  46. John Rahaim requested a “basket study” – how appropriate for John Rahaim.
    In a campagin to draw Trader Joe’s into the neighborhood, I will drive around 24/7 in circles in my H3 all of next month around the proposed site until SF let’s TJ’s come in!

  47. sfrenegade,
    Lighten up. I am indeed discussing the matter at hand and not avoiding anything. You complain that there are no set rules for new businesses and that communities get to make up rules as they go. Someone else pointed out that the rules in that neighborhood are set and Trader Joes’ plan doesn’t follow the rules. So Trader Joes is trying to get a special dispensation to allow them to break the rules. When that is pointed out, you then change your argument and don’t cry about businesses not knowing the rules, but cry that the rules are unfair to bunsinesses. Do I understand your argument?
    So, to elaborate, what rules do you think are unfair? That all businesses should be allowed to load/unload on a bike lane? That that area of the Castro should be zoned for businesses greater than 5,900 square feet?
    I wasn’t misrepresenting your argument. You repeated a weak argument in both threads and I called you on it. Now you are refining your argument. The one constant is that you are searching for a justification to allow a huge multinational corporation to get what it wants no matter what the community says.
    I may engage in a bit of hyperbole now and then for fun, you damn capitalist pig, ;), but you can see why I have to do that, no? You, and too many others in our crony-capitalist society, argue from the point of view of the capitalists and engage in lazy strawmen arguments about government regulation (and renters!). And btw, you let your ideological slip show when you call them “crappy” ma and pa stores. Have you been to Chuch Produce? These are not crappy stores. Unless you prefer the antiseptic aisles of Wall Mart and Trader Joes to local businesses.

  48. I am so glad that SFHawkman is giving a lecture what libertard profs in law schools teach in property classes. See folks, renters have a “property right” in their tenancy! When you decided to become landlord you “gave” it away – hahahaha. By the same token when you get on the Muni and your wallet is stolen, well, that’s just assumption of risk – you got on muni after all and hoodied individuals from a foreign country who stole your wallet might have a right in your property, so there you go.

  49. Actually, I take it back – hawk man(?)’s theory is substantiated by a Wikipedia cite. I still don’t get the rant about “multinational” corporations though – isn’t that what libertard’s want? Would they prefer Anglo-Saxon corporations?

  50. SFHawkguy, last thought here. If you noticed, my general and consistent statements in this thread had absolutely nothing to do with Trader Joe’s specifically, but rather were general complaints about how planning works here. You’ve made this into a Trader Joe’s thing and about parking and about who knows what else, and I honestly don’t care that much about those arguments. Just to give you some red meat on your pet topic, I did explain a huge flaw in the study — why would we need more than 1000 spots a day?
    My main encouragement here is *reasoned* planning, which we don’t have. Why are those four requirements stated in the other thread reasonable? Why is requiring a parking study reasonable? Why is the “basket study” reasonable? I object to these sort of things, not with respect to Trader Joe’s, but with respect to many contexts within the city. Planning by committee is just wrong.

  51. What’s a basket study? A study that shows you your life would be easier and cheaper with a TJ’s next door instead of a Harvest or a Mollie Stone’s?
    I understand why you wouldn’t want a Walmart in SF as it would suck all the life out of the city. But TJ’s? On the contrary. A lot of the moneys saved at TJ’s would be spent at cafes, restaurants, arts/crafts stores in the Castro.

  52. Cars versus walking in these Socket arguments seem to miss one important point. This is not a flat level city. I love to walk but live up a steep hill near Buena Vista Park. I am past middle age and no way can carry bags of groceries home neither will or can my younger neighbors. In the hilly Eureka Valley where TJ’s customers would originate cars not feet would be on the Yellow Brick Road to TJs.
    Walkers to use it like a 7 eleven and folks in cars to buy weekly groceries. Wrong location for a Trader Joes.

  53. Why not close CAFE FLORE while some of you are at it? I have observed customers to “the Flore” parking on adjacent streets and DRIVING to the Cafe from less than a mile away. But why stop with a cafe? There are still a few remaining bars and clubs that operate as a reminder to decades past when the Castro was THE Castro, and these establishments cause traffic and so I guess they should be shut down as well? I was not even born when this city was famous for having other things on its mind besides cars and parking, but the current anti-car fetish in San Francisco is an example of how boring this city has become.

  54. HomeOnAHill, Masonic would therefore be a much better place to shop for you. Plus there would be less cars going there thanks to the new store.
    About NV, if they won’t find parking, they won’t come. I have lived in Noe. The Daly City TJ’s is 10 minutes away and is often preferred to the 9th street location.
    Once you’re in a car and have the choice of a place, you’ll go where it’s most convenient.

  55. whocares,
    Watch a rerun of a car chase in Dirty Harry and you’ll see what I mean. The first times I focused on the chases, now I try to figure how different the city is since the 70s. A parking space! Another one! And another one! And Vermont used to be 2-way? There were definitely less cars at the time. And you could park your full size Caprice almost everywhere.
    SF today is more full. More affluent. There are more cars per person. Traffic matters in planning.

  56. What about not having a parking lot at all at TJs on Market? Happens in NY all the time. They’d still have a ton of business, and cars wouldn’t be as likely to come, so the perturbed neighbors might be a little happier.
    This is not a good outcome. Hey Scott Wiener, whaddya say about this? This was one of the reasons people like me supported you – bringing a dose of logic back to the City.

  57. lol, not directly relevant to your point, is that San Francisco was at a relative low point in population in 1970, per the Census. The population of SF in 2000 was roughly the same as 1950, 777K vs. 775K:
    According to the Census, the 2010 figure is 805K, or only about 30K more:
    I’m also not sure that a car chase is actually representative of the number of cars or parking spots! 🙂

  58. To Wilbur who asks:
    What about not having a parking lot at all at TJs on Market?
    Ask TJ why not– this option was proposed, discussed, and rejected by TJ! I’ll repeat that: a no parking store was rejected by TJ. As Scott said, they seemed unwilling to alter their ‘model’ to fit the neighborhood.

  59. To Wilbur who asks:
    What about not having a parking lot at all at TJs on Market?
    Ask TJ why not– this option was proposed, discussed, and rejected by TJ! I’ll repeat that: a no parking store was rejected by TJ. As Scott said, they seemed unwilling to alter their ‘model’ to fit the neighborhood.

  60. From what I’ve heard the TJ corporate culture is fairly “my way or the highway.” Tight-lipped and into their own thing.

  61. EH,
    It’s the Albrecht Bros, who are part of the grocery revolution all other Europe by creating Aldi. Go to Aldi, Lidl, Leader Price, Spar. 3 to 5 times cheaper than Safeway and the products are the standard euro fare. Most of the price in traditional groceries is marketing, packaging, distribution and goes to feed many people that have nothing to do with the actual making of the product. They’re in control of every aspect of the business.
    I can’t just imagine how much margin they must be making if they are using the same business model as their Aldi brand. They’re usually as cheap as the promotional price at Safeway. There are even some products that are 1/2 Safeway.

  62. @A.T.: One big problem here is the assumption that we need to find “one” big store to fill this space.
    Actually, we need to find several small stores/businesses. The owner of the property has been unwilling to divide the space back up. But actually, when the downstairs space was leased to Tower Video some years back, they received a Conditional Use authorization to combine two spaces for that purpose. The C.U. specifically states that when/if Tower leaves (and that ship has sailed!) the space must be divided into two different spaces again.
    If the owner had been willing to break up the property into smaller, rentable chunks, I think the building would have been more or less filled up a long time ago. In my opinion, that’s what needs to happen now.

  63. lol, whenever I go to get something wholesale that TJs carries, the wholesale price is usually about a penny a unit under the TJ price. TJs is carrying huge volumes, so they get a better price than I do, but not by much. Their margins are razor thin.
    It’s crystal clear that how they achieve those margins and yet still locate in expensive cities is to just force the neighbors to pay some of their costs. If a property has a loading dock, they have to pay for it, so they simply find one with no dock and unload the trucks in the street. They always seem to locate in spaces with inadequate parking, so they use Masonic Ave as an overflow lot or force people to park in other merchant’s lots or in the neighborhoods. They get cheaper rent while the neighbors suffer. Contrast this location with little parking and no dock to the Safeway nearby which has plenty of both. Safeway is a responsible corporate citizen and would generally not try this sort of thing.
    Laws are set up to avoid TJs very behavior. It’s the essence of zoning laws not to allow someone to come in a grab the amenities of the neighborhood. I go to TJs at least twice a week: I love the place, but this was exactly the right decision. You don’t let TJs undercut Safeway by basically grabbing the emenities of the neighborhood for itself without paying for them. Using Market Street as your loading dock isn’t fair. You don’t reward Safeway with that kind of competition.
    BTW, it KILLS me to see the ex Borders Bookstore in SOMA, one of the few places that has a loading dock, get rented to a bowling alley. What a waste of a valuable asset!

  64. Banning parking will never force people to give up their cars. Providing quick, safe, clean, reliable transit that travels to ALL parts of the city on a network that does not rely on city streets will get people out of their cars. What we are racing towards is the worst of both worlds; poor, crowded, limited public transit & crowded streets with little or no parking.
    The reason they can have a TJ’s in New York without parking is because NYC has a REAL transit network that covers all parts Manhattan!

  65. here’s a letter i wrote b4 they pulled out-
    The traffic study on all counts was damning to the feasibility of a successful project in this neighborhood.
    Just some of the points…
    –Market Street/Noe/16th intersection has been named the most dangerous intersection in San Francisco and possibly Northern California.
    -An estimated increase of 2500 cars daily if it was to become a Trader Joe’s.
    –Parking was a huge problem. And that was even extending the parking radius as far as Mission high school–church street and 18th St. (Completely unrealistic as nobody drives to a location to walk five blocks to a store from where they parked)
    –no solution for the queuing that would happen waiting for a tiny parking lot. The disaster of the Trader Joe’s on Masonic is the predictor.
    –No way to stop the double parking and drop offs in the bike lane. That location when it was a Tower Records had a minimum of 4 to 6 cars double parked and running into Tower Records during rush hour every night. And they had a fraction of the clientele as Trader Joe’s.
    –One of the best points made by a community member was this–“you have looked at this location for over two years and several years ago you were looking at the Sanchez Street location. The same problems existed yet you have the nerve to come back to us where we ask all of the same questions and you do not have a single solution for parking, pedestrian safety, congestion, bike lane blocking, traffic queuing, etc.… You do not have a single solution for any of these questions yet you come back to this neighborhood saying that you want to work with us!”
    other CONCERNS of the COMMUNITY
    -before this TJ application the parking in front of Cafe Flore was to become a bike lane because of the problems at that intersection.
    –who has Trader Joe’s been negotiating the challenges of making a (yet to be created) Bike Lane into a loading zone?
    …Because the Trader Joe’s representative addressed several questions by saying “We have gotten an okay from the city regarding this…”
    –A bike lane becoming a loading zone. They have the okay to use the curb.
    –They have the okay to unload if necessary in the bike lane earlier than the required hours even though it would be a noise nuisance for neighbors.
    –They have the okay to unload during street sweeping hours and they will have cell phone contact with street sweepers.
    -the ideas were insane…
    and IT WAS NOT to be a pedestrian store- their model did not allow that- a successful store needed each person toleave with 4 bags.
    Maybe now we can get the SFAIDS Foundation to open the testing site/health center that they had wanted 3 years ago as the owner waited for a chain store……

  66. TJ should be a walking/public transport destination. Its business model fits into the pattern of an efficient city center business. They maximize shelf space usage by carrying store brand quality products.
    European cities in the 70s used to have either expensive mom+pop/specialty grocery stores or mega centers in the ‘burbs. In the 80s came the discount grocery model like Aldi, and this revolutionized not only the business but also the ability of the middle and lower class to maintain a lifestyle in expensive cities. Also, less cars to go shopping in the boonies means less greenhouse emissions.
    Their model makes the best use of precious square footage and local resources. Why waste shelf space on 12 almost identical products when only one of them is on sale and it’s the one people will buy most of the time.
    Safeway got their location ages ago and therefore are underpaying for the space they are using. This old supermarket model is not viable for a city center. If they had to do it again at the current property value, they would make it much much more efficient. Surface parking is just a huge waste of revenue. The same space could be used by other stores, providing more services to the community along with jobs. A free surface parking provides only a passive service, not jobs. They’re OK in the peninsula, but are a waste of resources in central SF. At least it provides a nice opening to enjoy the sunset over BV Park and Clarendon Heights…
    What pi$$es me off most is that our useless “no-decision-makers” will shoot down projects like that because of car traffic issues, but will not do anything to improve the derelict state of our public transit. We are living on investments made between the 1800s and the 1980s when people knew how to take chances.

  67. lol hits upon the fundamental dilemma with SF on these issues. It is not densely populated enough to support supermarkets (and certain other businesses) with no parking – this site is a good example as the numbers who could feasibly walk here and carry several heavy bags home is quite small. And it does not have a sufficiently reliable, comprehensive public transportation system to make up for this. Outside of a few key routes like Market St. and Geary, buses/trains are not frequent enough or close enough to substitute for driving.
    Yet it is too dense to accommodate a car-based lifestyle like the burbs with lots of free parking.
    So unless and until SF either beefs up its public transportation or builds lots more housing to create more population density (SOMA is pretty much there), we’re in this nether world of needing a car but having great inconvenience/expense if you actually use it. Yes, some get by without a car – but many or most can’t afford the waste of time that brings.
    No easy answer. But the incumbent supermarkets are loving their quasi-monopoly.

  68. “I am so glad that SFHawkman is giving a lecture what libertard profs in law schools teach in property classes.”
    Oh, poor, confused Halperin. Another victim of crony capitalist propaganda. He doesn’t even know that the Anglo-American “black letter” property law hasn’t changed in centuries and that these basic common law rules are taught by conservative and liberal professors alike. He doesn’t even know that black letter property law is actually favored by conservatives more than liberals and therefore his assertions are not only wrong but invert the truth.
    I invoked black letter property laws simply to rebut halperin’s right-wing comrades, who want to go back a couple of centuries and only allow the landed gentry to participate in democracy–I was showing them that even under the very rules of capitalism, renters have property interests and it doesn’t make legal sense to disenfranchise renters while empowering landlords. As a leftist, I think the black letter rules are too conservative, but the right-wing in this country has gone so far over the deep end that even Anglo-American common law is “libertard” law (these are the same Tea Party people that think our crony-capitalist president is a “socialist”).
    Furthermore, if you were transported back to England 300 years ago with nothing but the Wikipedia page you could argue a property case–except you would be laughed out of court with your analogy of renters to robbers. Even a conservative professor at Wingnut U. would fail you for that ridiculous analogy. Renters and landlords engage in an arms length transaction while robbers use force to coerce compliance from victims. They are nothing alike. In fact, it is offensive that you and your ilk make such personal attacks on renters, people with relatively little power in our capitalist society. Same thing with your ilk’s attacks on public workers–you have been trained by the crony capitalist elite to be their attack dogs.
    I used to be astounded to see such retrograde arguments, but now I see it as the final stages of a crony-capitalistic frenzy that has lobotomized large segments of the population (“tell that socialist to go back to Africa!”). I mean c’mon, you guys want to re-litigate centuries old notions of justice and fairness and have turned basic truths on their heads. It’s renters that are parasites to you reactionaries, not the landlords who have traditionally been seen as the prototypical rent-seeking parasites that add no productive value. Not only should renters be second class citizens in our democracy, but the very idea of zoning laws are bad and prevents the magic of the free markets from working. The crony-capitalists have lobotomized a large section of the population through their propaganda–and it’s no wonder because the fascists own the media and most of our government.

  69. I have a question for the people who are driving from south Noe Valley to the 9th street TJ’s. If you are driving anyway why wouldn’t you go to the one at Stonestown? Same distance, more routes to avoid traffic, and tons of parking.

  70. sfrenegade,
    Now you’re indeed attacking the very notion of zoning laws. In addition to wanting to go back a few centuries on democratic participation you also want to go back a century or so and do away with zoning laws.
    The regulation of the size of the building appears to be the basic zoning requirement for that area. Different uses are zoned for different sizes–so a residential building is going to be smaller than an industrial building. What would you prefer? That everything be allowed but it’s up to the City or residents to complain?
    I don’t see anything wrong with the current basic legal framework. Areas are zoned into residential, industrial, retail, or variations thereof. Then if one wants to go beyond the zoned use one seeks a special dispensation, a conditional use permit, where there is a democratic process involved to decide whether the unzoned use is good for the community.
    That’s what is happening here.
    Regarding changing the zoning to allow for bigger grocery stores–I don’t think it’s necessary. I prefer to have more and smaller stores. Plus, is San Francisco poorly served by grocers? Seems like we have a more than adequate food supply system. If anything, I would rather have it more decentralized and to encourage local farmers. I like walking to my corner store for some things, going to the meat market for some things, and going to the large grocer to stock up. When we go bigger that means there will be fewer grocery stores spaced out more.
    What we should do is require 25% of all restaurant food to be bought within 250 miles of the City, or something like that.

  71. Sparky,
    That’s a good suggestion to go to Stonestown. I haven’t really thought about it and often combine trips so I am often going elsewhere in town (and that’s why I occasionally also go to Masonic or Bay St.).
    Similary, contra edwardian’s point, I would drive to the Castro TJ even if there was a 10 minute wait on Market St. , because that isn’t much more than the 5 minute wait or so that I currently expect at 9th or Masonic, and it would still be less time.

  72. Aldi owns Trader Joe’s, so that makes them geniuses and idiots in the same post.
    That’s my point. Their business model originated in Europe. Their stores are either in cheap suburban areas with parking, or 100% urban with pedestrian/public transit customers. In the US they had to adapt most of the time. Us Americans love our cars too much but it doesn’t always make sense to have one in a dense city. TJ’s could be part of the solution if only they were given a chance.

  73. Sparky,
    When I lived in NV, I found the Daly City location to be as convenient as Stonestown. Almost no traffic lights. On a good day, a 15 minute trip.

  74. “TJ’s could be part of the solution if only they were given a chance.”
    You keep trying to change the facts to fit your preconceived notion of the busy-body bureaucrats unfairly treating corporations. It’s propaganda that is not based on the facts.
    Trader Joes was in fact given a chance “to be part of the solution.” They are saying they will not locate here unless they can provide free parking to their customers. They had the opportunity to provide an urban store, but evidently the don’t want to. It makes sense too. They probably can’t make as much profit as they could if they provided free parking because they will make a lot more money off of people like me who go in there to buy 5 or 6 bags of groceries while they will need 10 “local” customers who go there after work, say, to make the same profit.
    The would even have the ability to make a profit off of the parking! By charging for parking they will evidently reduce the impact on the neighborhood. They want a free ride! They are not the poor abused corporate do-gooder you make them out to be.

  75. “So unless and until SF either beefs up its public transportation or builds lots more housing to create more population density (SOMA is pretty much there), we’re in this nether world of needing a car but having great inconvenience/expense if you actually use it.”
    A.T. has this right. The best solution is more population density, because then the density will force all the other things. However, the powers that be have determined that SF must have single family houses and that density is the enemy.

  76. right, that is probably even closer drivewise than the Stonestown. Parking isn’t as easy as Stonestown.
    I am just asking out of curiosity. I don’t live in NV.

  77. Well, SFHawkguy, if someone goes to TJ’s every 4 days with 2 lighter bags instead of every 2 weeks with 6 bags, it doesn’t make much difference for TJ’s, does it?
    By the way, when I shop at either 9th or Bay, most people have less than 3 bags. There’s always one or 2 who manage to fill the cart all the way up, but that’s the exception, not the norm.
    Also, about TJ’s wanting free parking, they figured they have to adjust to their customers who would take having to walk/cycle/use public transportation as an assault on their lifestyle even though they all dream of SF becoming more European. But as I said earlier, build them, then see people adjust to the new freedom.

  78. lol,
    Okay, so you admit that Trader Joes must think their customers will have a hard time “adjust[ing]” to a more Urban or European lifestyle and will want to drive to the store. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what you started out arguing? That the study predicting lots of car usage was wrong because so many people would walk or bike or take public transport? Now you’re admitting that Trader Joes wants to cater to those in a car-centric mode by offering free parking.
    If they wanted to be part of the solution wouldn’t they go along with the Planning Department’s offer to be part of the urban solution by not offering free parking? They are being encouraged to be more of an urban grocer, which appears to be what you want, but they are choosing not to (presumably because it impacts their profit).
    Isn’t it more accurate to say Trader Joes does not want to be part of the solution?

  79. I suspect it’s like shipping charges for online shopping: people just dislike it a “lot” and will make irrational decisions to avoid it.
    How many times have you gone into TJs for milk and come out with 10 other items? They are probably worried that people will think “I’m just going for milk and don’t want to pay an extra $3 to park because that doubles or triples the price of milk, so I’ll go to Safeway instead. Then they lose the sale of the other ten items.

  80. Nope, not what I really meant. But I’ll admit you’re a good debater.
    My point all along is that, yes, an extra TJ’s in the Castro will induce driving because you cannot avoid it, but that one extra location would redistribute the load from the others and would be one step to have a more pedestrian shopping scene in this very central location. People who want to drive will go where it’s more convenient (and these WILL be more convenient for the sole fact that some of the customer base will have shifted to the Castro).
    The Castro and Duboce Triangle are 2 areas where people made their own lifestyles. Cue the Farmer’s market once a week at Noe and Market. Nobody drives to it but it’s pretty packed. They’d love a TJ’s and they’d walk to it.

  81. “I invoked black letter property laws simply to rebut halperin’s right-wing comrades, who want to go back a couple of centuries and only allow the landed gentry to participate in democracy.”
    hawkman keeps demonstrating what is meant by a perpetual “shroom gloom” – an ailment common to vast swaths of SF and Berkeley/Oakland.
    obviously hawkman was absent when they taught law in law school (probably reading the collected ramblings of Chico Guevara). if a landlord and tenant negotiated, as hawkman, in a moment of suspicious lucidity admits, in what contract does it say that a tenant has “property rights” other than his right to a lease as set forth in the ……. lease?

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