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.

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?

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      There’s no barging going on here.

  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.

    • Posted by Frisco

      Of course Chicken John is a charlatan. It’s part of his schtick. He’d probably take it as a compliment. See the “Fail to Win” mural on the side of his building, and the SF Cacophony Society in general.

    • Posted by scott f

      I’m kinda glad there isn’t a chain coffee kiosk in Dolores Park, to be honest, whatever his motivation might’ve been.

      • Posted by chickenjohn

        That’s chain coffee kiosk owned by Nestle, brother. I knew that BB was gonna get bought by one of the big ten conglomerates like Mars or J.M. Smucker or whatever. I’ve been fighting for public space since the 80’s, and have fought many fights in other places not just where I live. But haters, ya know, they just keep on hating.

        As for my building that I’ve been in for 22 years there are zero complaints on record. Zero. Same number as the complaints from my bar. Zero. Zero points against my liquor license. I offer the space for cheap to non-profits, for free to memorials and we have $5,000 weddings a few times a month. That’s $5,000 weddings. Total cost. Food, booze, DJ, space, staff, flowers. Why do I throw $5,000 weddings? It ain’t the money, baby! I do it because it’s cool. Because I want to. Because the billionaires came and kicked all the millionaires out. I don’t have to answer to any of these sh*theads who get stuck in the filter. I’m not looking for more friends, I don’t have anything to sell anyone and nothing bothers me. I just don’t care.

        This article, for example, is crap. The writer is a lazy dog. Didn’t bother to talk to me. Made a bunch of shit up. Who cares? All articles are like this. He was probably paid $25 for writing this “article”. Maybe less. So really, who cares? 99% of the information in ALL ARTICLES are just made up. Lazy, useless, feckless, dumb writers who quit writing by the time they are 30 because there is simply zero money. So when you idiots are commenting on this crap, know that not only is it a waste of your time to comment, actually reading this rubbish is also a waste of your time.

        If you really need to know some of the intimate details of my life, buy me 2 beers! I’ll be a blubbering mess. In the meantime, please, all of you, f*ck completely off until you just can’t f*ck off any more. And then f*ck off just a little more.

        • Posted by SocketSite

          We’re not sure exactly what “bunch” you believe we made up above.

          But in terms of there being “zero complaints” on record related to the building, a formal Notice of Complaint was issued in 2015 followed by a Notice of Enforcement.

          And it would appear as though a penalty fee was paid, after which the Conditional Use Authorization to legalize the existing event space use with a hotel room, as we reported was in the works above, was subsequently approved.

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