Activists say a pair of Spades could beat culture and small business in the Mission

Activists are pushing for a big turnout.

[UPDATE: The Board of Appeals last night voted to 3-2 that Jack Spade should be considered a formula retail business, short of the four-vote supermajority that activists needed to sustain their appeal.]

Progressive activists and small business owners in the Mission are trying to draw the line against the creep the of corporate chain stores -- with their homegeneity and tendency to drive up commercial rents -- and they’re drawing that line at the old Adobe Bookstore where the Jack Spade corporate clothing chain was trying to quietly sneak in.

“I’m strongly opposed because of its potential to destroy the culture of this area,” Michael Katz, owner of Katz Bagels across 16th Street from the site, told the Guardian. “If they start allowing chains to come, it will be one chain store after another.”

Katz has already been experiencing the flipside of these economic boom times, recently forced to close his shop on Mission Street near 2nd in SoMa because of rising rents and competition from both food trucks and corporate-backed competitors. Now, he’s fighting to defend his Mission District turf against deep-pocketed competitors.

“This will change the special personality of the 16th and Valencia corridors,” Katz said. “It’s turning it into a commodity.”

Katz is among the dozens of people planning to show up tomorrow for the San Francisco Board of Appeals’ hearing (Wed/21, 5:00 PM, City Hall Room 416) on the Jack Spade store. The Valencia Corridor Merchants’ Association is organizing the challenge to the legal standing of a building permit issued to Jack Spade by the Planning Department in June.

Last week, that same group of activists experienced a minor setback when the Board of Appeals denied a late filing request. Tomorrow, however, they’ll get the opportunity they were seeking to argue that the store is “formula retail” and needs to submit to a public hearing before being sanctioned by the Zoning Administrator to open a new Mission location.

Mission resident Kyle Smeallie has been working with the VCMA to oppose the mens’ clothier’s advances on 16th street. In the case of Jack Spade, the Planning Department has enforced only the narrowest definition of “formula retail” as a business with 11 or more locations, while failing to defend the broader spirit of the law.

Since Jack Spade is owned by Fifth & Pacific (aka Liz Claiborne), according to Smeallie, it is a corporate chain store. Though it indeed has only 10 locations, Jack Spade “has a complete imbalance of power and resources, which is exactly what the formula retail legislation aimed to remedy in the first place,” said Smeallie.

Fifth and Pacific also makes clear on its website the Jack Spade is an expanding chain: "Under Fifth & Pacific, Jack Spade has begun to spread its wings and is now poised for broader expansion. Although management would not disclose a precise volume breakdown, Fifth & Pacific's CEO William L. McComb said on an earnings call last year that Jack Spade ‘can be a $100 million men's business with very high margins.’”

That’s “margins” as in profit margins, meaning that this corporate chain can has an economies of scale that allows it to buy goods for cheap and sell them for whatever people will pay, which is an ever-increasing amount in the rapidly gentrifying Mission.  

Experts have advised the activists that their best approach is to argue that Kate Spade and Jack Spade are essentially the same store, with well over 11 locations nationwide, since corporate parentage is not explicitly prohibited in the formula retail legislation approved by voters in 2006.

“We’re going to make the case that, since it’s named Spade, it has benefitted from the association with Kate Spade,” Smeallie explained. “Legally, we have a case to say a Spade is Spade and they should be considered one and same.”

In the past, this strategy was successful in thwarting an effort by "Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers" to open a neighborhood location by claiming that it was, effectively, just another Brooks Brothers. In that case, however, the full name of the large-scale retailer was present in the subsidiary's label.


shopping and dining destination, with safer, cleaner streets, upmarket establishments and a more prosperous look and feel, then who are you to say the majority should be denied just because a few NIMBY's and progressives have a flawed ideological vision of what it should be like?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:33 am

If the Mission district community is dismissed as a bunch of NIMBYs and progressives (and thus their opinions don't matter), then what "majority" are you referring to if not the majority of the people who live there?

The majority of the city? The state? The country? Perhaps we should ask the majority of the world's people what rules should govern the behavior of corporate America. Now that will be an interesting discussion!

Of course the question is rhetorical, because the only majority you really care about is the majority of moneyed interests sitting in corporate boardrooms.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

Should the decision only be made by people in the Mission? Only on 16th street? Only on that block? How parochial do you want to get?

I'd drive a few miles to shop there. Does my view not count because I am not in 94110? Planning by zip code?

The city has, in electing Ed Lee, voted for a pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-prosperity city. Problem?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

And this guy speaks for them.
He also keeps the majority protected from "NIMBY's and progressives have a flawed ideological vision" which makes this guy an internet hero, definitely not some sad little fuck who can't reason his way out of a wet paper sack.

Posted by Mort on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:04 am

"If a majority preferred the Mission to be more gentrified, you'd still oppose it. So this really is about your own personal agenda."

Yes, I would still oppose gentrification. I've never claimed otherwise. What's your point?

I'm not allowed to express a viewpoint or an opinion or have an agenda at the same time that I believe firmly in notion of democracy? Am I not allowed to advocate for the candidate of my choosing at the same time I advocate for free and fair elections?

Why do all you "Guests" seem to hate freedom of expression and democracy so much?

Have I misunderstood the whole point of internet comment sections? I thought we were expected to express our opinions and make rational arguments in support of them.

Posted by Andy on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:36 am

wanted was for the majority to decide this.

But now you have just admitted that you care more that this turns out the way you personally want it to, regardless of what a majority wants.

I have no problem with you wanting to keep the Mission down market. I do have a problem when you try and dress that up as caring about what the majority want. You don't, as you now admit.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:54 am

You've made it crystal clear you're a self-absorbed blowhard. Kind of like the Marke/Steven-era version of Lillipublicans.

Posted by Chromefields on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:32 am

Cool, I'll take your personal attack on me in lieu of a substantive argument as a crystal clear sign that I won the debate. Thanks!

Oh, and any Guardian troll calling someone else "a self-absorbed blowhard" is more than enough richness to make my day. Cheers!

Posted by Andy on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:45 am

Chromefield calls the glitter ball sparkly, LOL

Posted by pete moss on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

Listen, I wouldn't blame you for not reading all the comments in this thread, but it appears you may not even understand what we're talking about here.

"The specific steps" I am presently taking to find out if a majority of the PUBLIC wants the Jack Spade store on the 16th is by -- now listen carefully -- specifically advocating for a PUBLIC hearing on whether or not the PUBLIC wants the store there.

NOW have I made myself clear?

Posted by Andy on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:37 am

SF'ers want this store because a majority of SF'ers won't be at that meeting.

Public meetings tend to attract activists, busybodies and those with an agenda and an axe to grind. The average SF resident and voters doesn't attend those meetings which are in any event crowded out by people like you and other "usual suspect" SFBG hacks and cronies.

If you really want to know what SF'ers speak then look at opinion polls and election results. The fact that Ed Lee trounced Avalos easily tells you that a majority of SF'ers want Lee's pro-jobs, pro-growth policies over Avalos's interventionism.

But you don't care about that of course, as long as you get to push your agenda.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:51 am

Public hearings attract those who are close enough to the issue to feel passionately about it. That's not a bad thing, IMO. It's not a referendum, but the public has also spoken out in a general sense about its desire to limit the proliferation of chains. A public hearing is certainly better than one dude (the owner of the company) deciding what is best for the neighborhood.

Letting the "market" decide is a much worse gauge of public opinion, because you can have a situation where the vast majority of a community is against the business, where the vast majority would prefer local businesses, but a tiny minority who does shop there is enough to sustain it. The vast majority don't get a say.

But you don't really care about public opinion, do you? You're just throwing out the public opinion card as rhetoric. In reality, all you care about is that landlords and moneyed private interest have the full power to do what they want, without any public accountability. Isn't that right?

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:12 am

And I say this having been to a few, although maybe not as many as you. In SF, these meetings are typically populated by the extremists (on both sides, but usually more so from the left).

The average SF'er is generally too busy with jobs, families etc to devote hours at a time, even if these meetings are in the evening, and certainly when they are held during the day.

After a while, you start seeing the same "usual suspects" at every meeting, always with some activist agenda, and the whole meeting is a charade if you want to seriously understand what the majority want.

For instance, a clear majority at every meeting I have attended would oppose the Jordan/Brown/Newsom/Lee pro-growth agenda. And yet in elections, the voters always elect them over the progressive alternative.

So activists use these meetings to try and achieve via effort and muscle what they cannot achieve at the ballot box.

I trust the market more than I trust activists, but what I really want is for our elected officials to do what we elect them to do.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:31 am

Let's assume for a second that you're trying to have an intellectually honest discussion rather than just trolling. I know, probably not a good assumption, but just the same...

If your problem with public meetings is that the representation at these public meetings is skewed, one might take that argument somewhat seriously, if your proposed solutions weren't just as problematic if not moreso.

You mentioned electoral politics as one arbiter of true public opinion. But you and I both know that it's not. Participation in that game is far from universal, and arguably just as skewed as participation in public meetings. By the time an election comes around, consultants with gobs of cash have had time to mold public opinion to their liking. The rump of the citizenry that takes the time to vote out of their busy schedule skews older, whiter, wealthier, and more conservative, particularly in off-year municipal elections. *That said, it cannot be overemphasized that in spite of this, the voters have given their consent to regulating chain stores*. But then again, I'm skeptical that you really care about what the majority really thinks.

Your other proposed solution reveals just how undemocratic you really are. The "free market" is an even worse arbiter of public opinion than public meetings, because those who oppose, cannot even express their opposition. You have two choices, signify your consent by shopping, or fail to signify your consent by not shopping. In other words, remain silent. You have NO ability to effectively express opposition in an ACTIVE manner. All it takes is for a tiny minority to express their agreement by shopping there, and the business thrives, even if a crushing majority of the community doesn't want the business there.

This is why I think public meetings are an important piece of the democratic pie. It gives a community a chance to express their unadulterated views, for or against, (usually) without having been extensively manipulated by consultants. And it gives weight to intensity of desire, which I think is important too. If you have an issue where 20% of the people feel strongly one way, 1% of the people feel strongly another way, and 79% of the people don't care much either way (and could therefore probably be manipulated easily in an electoral campaign if one or the other side has a lot of money to spend), I think it's important for public officials to be aware of the true sentiments of the community unadulterated by the manipulation of a political campaign.

I'm always open to making the process better, more open, more inclusive, more participatory, but I feel that's not really the goal of the people I'm debating with.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

You appear to be claiming that if 80% of the populace want something, but 20% feel really really strongly that it should not happen, then somehow that 20% has more significance.

And that flies right in the face of our one-man, one-vote system.

You appear to love elections when you think they will go your way, as you clearly believe with the 8-Wash proposition. But when those same elections produce moderate, centrist, pro-jobs mayors like Ed lee, then suddenly the election process is flawed.

I know many, many hard-working decent people in SF who would never could or would attend a public meeting, but who vote and who also vote with their shopping dollars. You want to disenfranchise those in favour of a rabble? And older, white, conservative people don't count?

If I don't like a store, I don't go there, but I would never try and prevent a store that you like from opening just because of ideology. Why can't you show the same respect for others?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

That's not what I said. If you want to debate the points I actually made instead of your own fabricated straw man version, come back and try again. Thanks for playing.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 8:56 pm

I refuted it.

I could have refuted your other points but couldn't be bothered.

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:36 am

Okay, sure. I get it. So let's trust Ed Lee to take care of everything, keep our mouths shut and stop participating in our communities. Didn't we already check a box on a ballot awhile ago, after all? We did our duty. And yes, public hearings should be abolished because only some people can be bothered to participate in local democracy. Makes sense.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for caring about my community and actively participating in it. I should immediately go back to cynical laziness and keep my mouth shut-- with the exception, perhaps, of trolling the Guardian daily to justly ridicule those who actually do something with free time and energy besides sitting at home and ridiculing others on the internet.

Thanks for showing me the light! : )

Posted by Andy on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:24 am

because you haven't asked us what we prefer. You rant on about gentrification but you have no idea whether a majority might prefer that.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:35 am

I'm sorry sir. Did I not ask you how you feel about gentrification? Did I not provide you the space to express your opinion along side mine in the comment thread? I'm so terribly sorry. : )

Huh? Okay, so I get the sense that you're just trolling me and making no effort to actually make sense -- so it's time for me to drop out of this discussion.

I'll say a few last things. I do indeed care about the community and I'm proud of my efforts to be active in it. I try really, really hard to be engaged in my community and to fight for the good things that I believe make San Francisco special and important.

I've never claimed to speak for everyone. I've never claimed to speak for the majority. In fact I'm quite certain that many of my opinions might not reflect the majority.

Some times minority opinions have merit. Sometimes minority opinions are even morally right. That's why discussion and debate are worthwhile in a democracy. Sometimes it leads to a positive flip in the majority opinion and to good things like equal voting rights and marriage equality.

But all that is really immaterial here. I have viewpoints about gentrification, yes. Since when has it been a crime to have a viewpoint on here?

And with the Jack Spade and formula retail issue, the WHOLE POINT is about having the public weigh in on the development of their own neighborhoods, not about what I think or you think.

You don't like my opinion, fine. But what do you have against the community's right to weigh in on the development of it's neighborhoods? Again the formula retail ordinance was passed by nearly 60% of SF voters so your beef really isn't with me at all.

See you all at the hearing tonight?

Cheers and adios!


Posted by Andy on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

the "community" to be allowed input into this planning decision, it does not ultimately matter to you whether or not a majority favor this store going in?

If a majority wants this store, you don't care, you still do not think it should open there.

While if a majority oppose it then, in that case, what the majority wants is OK.

Is that it?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 12:30 pm


Posted by Mort on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:10 am

The majority voted for a pro-jobs, pro-growth mayor.

Posted by Norm on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:13 am

They are simply applying to open a store location there in the same way that every retail business would do.

Please try and refrain from such pejorative language when there is no basis for it. It doesn't make you look credible.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

Andy, you should look up "white mans burden". You seem to have a terminal case.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

the majority should decide this issue AND that it would be OK if a minority decided it if and only if he just happened to agree with them.

Wanting a neighbourhood to stay poor, dirty and crime-ridden was kinda weird too.

Posted by anon on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

White man's burden? I saw nothing of the sort. Why do you even think Andy's white? I didn't see him mention his race anywhere.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

liberals are entitled white people.

The real reason for the opposition to Jack Spade is the name. Spade is another way of saying nigger.

White man's burden. Look for the effete progressives to support the store under it's new name: Jack Cracker. PC chain stores are okay.

Posted by anon on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

but I am sure he/she will claim it as a legitimate argument and that I cannot refute it. Though the onus is on anon to provide evidence that all SFBG progressive liberals are entitled white people.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

But every meeting I have been to has had the same domination by whites of a certain look and intensity.

coincidence, I'm sure ;-)

Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:37 am

assertion a fact? Then, to follow your logic, your complaints that The Guardian and its readers unfairly base their opinions on the rich by what they see become invalid. The posts critical of the rich --under the argument you present above--are therefore true as the the critiques are based on upon witnessing a group of people of a "certain look and intensity."

Again, it appears that you are more interested in eliciting a reaction here then presenting any thought out or consistent argument that can be debated. Posting things just to get a reaction from people is a symptom of troll behavior, and that is why you are referred to as a troll here. Being called such has nothing to do with people disagreeing with you, and it is rather disingenuous to claim that is why you are being called a troll. Another symptoms of trolls is being disingenuous.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

The folks here who make maudlin posts about "people of color" (yuk) are invariably white liberals who are seeking to assuage their guilt when, in truth, they have no reason to feel guilty.

It's a neurosis.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

I would put $100 bucks on Andy being white. In all my years in SF, I have never seen the kind of rhetoric he is spouting come out of the mouth of anyone other than a white upper middle class person educated at a small liberal arts university.
Stereotyping maybe, but I'm pretty sure its true in this case.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:48 am

more hopelessly lily-white they are.


Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:03 am

He would even put $100 bucks on it!
How much more factual can his statements be folks? He is literally willing to wager $100 bucks!
How does that work, by the way, betting $100 bucks when you clearly don't intend to and are full of shit?

Posted by Mort on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:08 am

It's been my experience too.

Posted by Norm on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:12 am
Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:14 am

It's confusing because you're full of shit and you lie.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:27 am
Posted by Anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:40 am

It's a fact that he has no intention of betting $100 bucks. Coupled with the fact that he is merely restating empty opinions tells us that he, like you, is full of shit. You have no proof for your contention.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

merely his way of expressing certainty about the proposition.

I have no skin in that game but his point seems very plausible.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

Does it matter? Andy is a white dude. the bet is irrelevant.

" An alternative interpretation is the philanthropic view, common in Kipling's formative years, that the rich (whites) have a moral duty and obligation to help "the poor" (coloreds) "better" themselves whether the poor (coloreds) want the help or not.:"

This is basically the thesis for the existence of this paper, and "progressive" SF

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:18 am

justify getting all parental and avuncular with them.

This has evolved into sophisticated variants of playing the race card, which of course is routine SOP for any aspiring SF progressive.

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