News & Research Archive

More Proposed Formula Retail Measures In the Works for San Francisco

Nov 05, 2013

Supervisor Mar has just introduced an ordinance to expand the definition of Formula Retail to include businesses that have eleven or more other outlets worldwide (it currently defines as having eleven stores in the United States) and to include 50% or more owned by formula retail businesses (currently if you are under 11 stores but owned by a formula retail identity you are exempt). Mar is further asking for expanded notification procedures for formula retail applications and also to require an economic impact report as part of the conditional use application and adopting findings. This includes environmental findings, planning code section 203 findings, and findings of consistency with the general plan and the priority policies of planning code section 101.

What is interesting about Supervisor Mar's position is that he represents the Richmond District that currently has over thirty vacant retail stores. Also, formula retail businesses are now completely ignoring Geary Boulevard retail if it falls under neighborhood commercial zoning after PETCO was rejected on the former Walgreens site. The results of such restrictions are so obvious on Geary merchants. You have less buying traffic and therefore less interest in all retailers wanting to be there.

On another front those groups against formula retail restrictions being proposed has asked the Planning department to study the economic impact on these new restrictions. The Planning Department has applied to the Friends of City Planning for $35,000 to help fund a formula retail study but word has it that the FOCP is leaning against it. Some members of the FOCP board oppose the grant request and are against the study entirely, for fear it will favor formula retail over independent businesses.

It appears that the stage has already been set to approve major new formula retail restrictions that will have a severe impact on our neighborhoods. We should step back and press city officials to do a economic impact study to determine if these restrictions will indeed cause negative damage. Also this issue is so big that it should be up to the voters to decide.


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 28 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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