CFAH

Pet%20Food%20Express%20Lombard%20Rendering_f01.jpg

Due to “public opposition based on the competitive advantage of Formula Retail,” San Francisco’s Planning Commission voted 5 to 2 to deny Pet Food Express’ application to renovate and occupy the former Blockbuster Video store on Lombard at Divisadero in 2009. The site has sat vacant since.

With a new study in hand concluding that Pet Food Express’ proposed store “will not cause other pet specialty retail stores in San Francisco, as a group, to lose sales revenue,” San Francisco’s Planning Department now supports Pet Food Express’ proposed move. We’ll note the aforementioned study was funded by Pet Food Express.

From the Planning Department’s recommendation of approval for Pet Food Express’ new application to occupy the Lombard Street site:

Through analysis of the current mix of Formula Retail and independently owned retail outlets on Chestnut and Union Streets, it appears that the two types of ownership formats can co-exist as both those streets enjoy robust commercial activity, are considered destination neighborhoods, and neighborhood investment and pride is apparent. In comparison, Lombard Street has a much lower concentration of Formula Retail outlets and does not enjoy the level of commercial activity or investment similar to Chestnut and Union Streets do.

And atop the Department’s basis for their approval: “The project promotes a viable retail outlet on Lombard Street which could act as a catalyst for additional commercial investment along Lombard Street.”

On August 8, the members of San Francisco’s Planning Commission will once again cast their votes with four merchant associations supporting the proposal, four against, and signatures from local residents running five to one against.

Pet Food Express and Pets Unlimited Lombard Street Hearing Packet [sfplanning.org]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by zzzzzzzz

    How many more sites will remain vacant and blighted until SF wakes up to the folly of its chain store restrictions? It’s pure madness.

  2. Posted by MC

    As I understand it, this company started as a brick and mortar back in the early ’80’s with one location in West Portal. They have been a San Francisco based company all the way. Risk taking entrepreneurs creating jobs. So at what point did they become the evil empire? Should the motto of SF be “Mom and Pop stores fantastic! Just don’t become too successful”
    Also, is it me or are the laws that the SF Planning Commission adheres to as flexible as a slinky? What gives?

  3. Posted by redseca2

    Pet Food Express is no threat to locally owned single location shops.
    I have checked them out, and their prices are actually higher than my within walking distance local pet food shop on Cole Street.

  4. Posted by Jackson

    The decision against a new Pet Food Express on Lombard Street shows the ridiculousness of the City’s “Formula Retail” policy.
    Progressives and NIMBY’s want you to excel and make money, just not too much.
    Pet Food Express has been a excellent steward for pets in San Francisco.

  5. Posted by Mark

    Meanwhile, another La Boulange gets the okay to set up shop in West Portal.
    From an idealistic view I see the limits of limiting chains to promote independents, but to choose vacancy over business is ridiculous. As for the site itself , it would be a great location for a MUNI station when the Central Subway is extended to the Presidio (insert joke).

  6. Posted by jlasf

    Quite simply, this is restraint of trade masked as a community issue.

  7. Posted by anonandon

    I think San Francisco’s civic insecurity is showing again. As someone who grew up in the Bay Area and heard television/radio promos saying things like “bringing the news to the Best Place on Earth”, or “music for the world’s favorite city”, I find any city that needs to tell itself these things has a chip on its shoulder, and stopping a store because it might exist in Los Angeles or Dallas is silly.
    What made San Francisco a great city had NOTHING to do with retail experiences, and had everything to do with the people who built this place. I would rather meet interesting creative types in a chain store, than bitter closed minded nimbys trying to live in the past.

  8. Posted by eddy

    I had heard that a slightly more upscale liquor store was going in the location. Can’t remember when or where I heard that…?

  9. Posted by Futurist

    There should be a ballot measure abolishing the Formula Retail policy here in SF.
    It’s ridiculous, bad for business, bad for consumers and gives way too much power to NIMBY politics.
    Let the free market system work.

  10. Posted by Berkeley Jones

    A Chestnut Street merchant feeling threatened by a Lombard Street address, now that is laughable. Calling Pet Food Express a big box store is also laughable ( see Petsmart or Petco with avg 20,000 s.f.stores). Treating a homegrown business that is firmly entrenched in animal wellness throughout the region should make the city proud to call PFE a SF born business. Come on can we end the charade here of pricing sabotage and evil empire type of stuff, I can go online at any point during my day and pick from 1000’s of cheaper options for Pet Food than either the applicant or the opposition. It is not about that any more, it is about running a smart business with unique products and an outstanding experience so the consumer is not going to go the easier route of taking clicks over bricks. We are in a new world economy, it would be great if SF realized this. The city seems to do backflips for any business that has a “.com” attached to the name but still conducts “witch trials” for free world capitalism at the street level……

  11. Posted by lyqwyd

    Previously I was for formula retail protections. Now I would like it repealed just so we can stop having these posts!

  12. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    What’s up with the scale on the rendering?
    Compare the person, dog, what looks like a front/street entrance, and then the side/back entrance.

  13. Posted by PepeSF

    This is so infuriating. Pet Food Express is a San Francisco-native company with great products, helpful, friendly employees and excellent community involvement. SF should be proud of this success story and foster additional development by these good people. The Planning Commission should be ashamed of itself, but they’re just a bunch of inconsistent, politically-motivated dicks, so I doubt they really care much.

  14. Posted by anonandonagain

    NIMBYISM at its absolute worst. strong arming of neighborhood groups by minority interests. catnip and bones sucks. owner helped ban a petco. i will not shop there. The owner of small pet stores just want protection from any competition so they have a monopoly. guarantee you that prices will go up at local pet stores in the face of oppositions. email the supervisors that formula retail laws are horseshit and restriction of trade. unreal.

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