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2000-11-04
San Francisco, CA. 12 Month Cap on Home Depot

Just about a year ago (see 10/18/99 newsflash) we reported that Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco was being lobbied by a former staff member, now in the employ of Home Depot, to try and force a huge home improvement store on unwilling residents in the S.F. neighborhood of Visitacion Valley. Push the clock forward one year, and Home Depot is still hammering away -- but now they have the San Francisco Board of Supervisors hammering back. According to the S.F. Chronicle, Board President Tom Ammiano introduced legislation to the Finance and Labor committee that freezes development for 12 months, and limits the size of single commercial uses at the Bayshore Boulevard site to 65,000 s.f. Residents have proposed their own vision of how the 13.5 acres site could be used for mixed use development, a "transit village" of housing, library, open space, grocery store and other shops built to be compatible with the scale of the surrounding neighborhoods. Home Depot protested that it hadn't build anything as small as 65,000 s.f. in about a decade! What about their 40,000 s.f.Villager Hardware stores? Home Depot had pleaded with Ammiano to delay these interim controls, but the proposal now goes to the full Board of Supervisors, and Mayor Brown. Fran Martin, head of the Visitacion Valley Planning Alliance, told the Chronicle: "A Home Depot and a transit village at the same site is an oxymoron. We want Home Depot to scale down its development."

What you can do: This is another example of the quicksand that developers can find themselves slowly sinking in. Normally, a Home Depot project should be able to clear regulatory hurdles in a matter of 3 or 4 months. But as more and more citizens speak out and form opposition groups, a developer, like the Emerald Fund in this case, gets mired in over a year's worth of neighborhood debate, and the possibility of facing a second year of delays. If developers did a little more upfront spade work with the local neighborhoods, they might have learned in places like Visitacion Valley that the battle would be long and drawn out, and just cut the project off and move elsewhere. As it stands now, Home Depot could find the door nailed shut in San Francisco. Oxymorons are hard to sell to the neighbors.










 
 
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