March 17, 2016
Dear Supervisor Peskin,
We are writing to express our opposition to the current proposal to apply a Formula Retail Prohibition to the Polk Neighborhood Commercial District.
Russian Hill Neighbors shares and supports the commitment of our District 3 Supervisor and other neighborhood groups to protect existing neighborhood character and encourage local serving businesses on Polk Street. We question, however, whether a full ban on formula retail is the most appropriate and viable way to do so, especially along the more northerly section of Polk Street that falls within the RHN borders and those blocks of Polk Street that are within walking distance for our members.
A recent survey conducted of our membership indicates that over 70% of the responders feel inadequately served by local grocery options, for example. Others have pointed out that there are an abundance of nail salons, coffee houses and bars along the northern Polk Street corridor to the detriment of a variety of neighborhood serving businesses, and that vacancies continue to occur. The Formula Retail ban could exacerbate rather than ameliorate these conditions.
Not all businesses operate on the same margins. Some, such as grocery stores, need to take advantage of volume purchasing in order to offer the variety and pricing that our members seek. Drug stores (such as Walgreen’s) and hardware stores (such as Cole) have similar needs. These latter two are examples of how multi-location retail operations are successfully serving our local community.
Currently, zoning along Polk Street allows local residents and neighborhood groups the opportunity to weigh in on new projects, something that Formula Retail Prohibition will eliminate. The universe of possible local-serving businesses will narrow, eliminating in advance any consideration of some businesses that address needs not currently well-served.
RHN is committed to working collaboratively with our members, local residents, public officials and other neighborhood groups to identify the best ways to achieve our common objectives to ensure a lively, viable and neighborhood-serving merchant corridor within and near our district.