In a city where dogs easily outnumber children, one might think that any new place to procure pooch-sized strollers, tiny argyle sweater vests and the finest doggy stairs money can buy would be welcomed with open paws. However, as much as San Franciscans love their four-legged friends, they hate big, corporate chain stores even more.
In the wake of pet supply behemoth Petco applying for a permit to move into a former Walgreens space at Geary Blvd. and 18th Ave., Supervisor Eric Mar has introduced legislation banning chain pet stores along the Geary corridor between 14th and 28th Avenues.
There was widespread neighborhood opposition to the store’s opening when it was announced earlier this year and Mar, along with some community activists, hoped that public outcry would be enough to dissuade Petco from going though with opening the location. However, when Petco went ahead unfazed, Mar introduced legislation that would ban the store, and others like it, outright.
Mar’s bill is largely aimed at protecting the handful of small, locally-owned pet stores in the area whose business would adversely affected by the encroaching pet supply giant.
“It is certainly a shot across the bow to any big chain store who wants to infiltrate community merchant corridors,” says John Todgya, the owner of nearby B&B Pet Supplies.
For their part, Petco has vowed to do whatever it takes to fight the legislation. “The proposed ordinance exceeds the city’s police power,” said a lawyer representing the San Diego-based company. “[It] infringes on the project sponsor’s equal protection rights and, if enacted, would be invalid under federal and state law.”
San Francisco is notoriously hostile to large chains. Over the past decade, city voters have passed legislation dictating that all companies with over 10 retail locations have to jump through a series of procedural hoops before setting up shop within the city limits. For example, 2006’s Proposition G mandates that all chains have to plead their cases before the Planning Commission before being allowed to legally set up shop. Some neighborhoods, such as Hayes Valley and Bernal Heights, have banned chains altogether in an effort to retain the unique character of their neighborhoods as well as incubate local small businesses against potentially lethal competitors.
The Richmond has seen a lot of action on the anti-chain front of late, with Supervisor (and