PETCO Not Welcome in San Francisco Richmond District, Neighbors Vow to Fight

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NIMBY Victims
​Pet owners are starting to feel increasingly unwelcome in San Francisco. Just last week, the federal government rolled out plans to seriously restrict dogs from running off-leash in open space around the city.

Now Richmond District neighbors are trying to block PETCO from opening an unleashed store in the district. Last night, a group of angry residents showed up to a community meeting to protest plans for the new store. But it's not because they aren't pet-friendly; it's because they disdain big-box retailers. 

Residents claims the chain pet store will suck business away from the smaller retailers around town.
Katheleen Dooley, a member of the city's Small Business Commission, tells the SF Appeal, "We're not supportive of formula retail coming in and poaching business from small, locally owned stores."

But PETCO officials defended themselves. Spokesman Kevin Whalen tells KTVU that the store is "not trying to put anybody out of business. We think there is an opportunity, and this is not a fully served market that we can make a difference in."

The city has a long track record of trying to keep chain pet stores out. Marina neighbors fought hard to keep a Pet Food Express from moving into the area -- and almost won. After a long fight, the company got its permit to move into the former Hollywood Video on California Street. 

Neighbors might have a louder bark, but chain stores have a bigger bite.

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Chris
Chris

I don't understand the complainers. If you don't want to shop at Petco and you prefer to shop at smaller independent retailers, then make that decision and vote with your wallet. There is a big empty commerical building, which could be contributing to the depleted tax rolls, rather than sitting empty. I don't see why the government should be involved with dictating to consumers about what their option will be about where they can spend their own money. I make my shopping decisions based on a number of factors, and sometimes I choose to shop at chain stores and other times I choose to shop at independent stores. It is called having a brain and free-will, and it seems to work out fine for me and most thinking adults. One assumes that if "all" the neighbors supposedly don't want to patronize Petco and would rather support independent stores, then Petco would soon close for lack of customers. Ah, but of course, the truth is that the complainers know they are most likely in the minority with their desire to keep things just as they like it (and often the complainers are in the business and have an economic interest in limiting competition, or if they are opposing a housing project, then they are a homeowner/landlord and want to use government regulation to artificially restrict housing supply to keep their own property values sky-high). In this case, the complainers know most people in the neighborhood don't have strong feelings about where they buy their pet food/supplies, but they could very well develop a preference for Petco if it offered a wider selection and better pricing than the competition. Of course, the majority of people have a life (and they don't have an economic incentive to shut out competition), and cannot or do not want to take precious time away from family, friends, recreation, and of course, work, just to attend a meeting about a pet store's conditional use permit. Zoning should be limited to its original intent of keeping certain land uses separate from incompatible uses, such keeping polluting heavy industry out of a residential area. Historic preservation of truly significant buildings is also acceptable, and in certain cases district preservation may be legitimate, so long as it is not really just an excuse to do an end-run around the planning process (i.e. designating a huge area as "historic" based on questionable criteria, simply to severely limit any new development). It's strange San Francisco wants to position itself as a city that values individual freedom, when the local government spends so much of its resources trying to regulate most aspects of its residents lives. If a parcel of land is zoned for retail and of suitable size, which this parcel is, then a retail use permit should be issued, and that should be that. Then, individuals should be allowed to use their own brains to make their own choices about whether they wish to shop.

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