Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Second Winds

This entry is from Bryan McKeon, one of the original organizers of the movement to stop Starbucks from moving into the Inner Richmond. [in photo far left]

I write now "movement" and "original" oganizers because since the filing date of July 11th (of the appeal to the planning commissions decision to allow a Starbucks into our neighborhood) it has turned into just that a movement. And the organizers are now a team instead of just Jesse Fink and myself.
The outpouring of concerned residents (and residents of other neighborhoods too) has been overwhelming. At yesterdays meeting in City Hall even more people came up to us, letting us know that if there was anything they could do to help please ask. In fact, I have heard this much since we first printed petitions and now I have to take help cause things have grown so much. Instead of riding around the 'hood placing and collecting petitions, I delegate tasks to the team. Awesome. We are now gearing up with press releases, more petitions, and a much improved notification network. Indeed this blog space was created by a concered neighbor who spotted a poster at Javaholics on 6th and Balboa just a week before our meeting with the supervisors.
[Photo: Jesse Fink, center, and other Richmond District residents challenge Toyota Service Center and Starbucks reps on the steps of SF City Hall]

Yesterday's continuance while seeming like a non-event was actually quite a victory. We came face to face with the board, Toyota, Starbucks supporters for Starbucks and those against. We all were only allowed a minute to speak. We spoke volumes. I handed over to the supervisors just shy of 3,000 signatures from San Francisco residents opposing the Starbucks as well as 12 copies of the San Francisco Retail Diversity Study which demonstrates how much more economically beneficial local retailers are than their chain competitors. One speaker at the meeting (who I had no idea was coming) actually quoted stats from this report. I was glad the supes all had copies to hand out as they were thumbing through it as she spoke.

Of the signatures gathered so far, at least 36 percent were from the immediate neighborhood (2nd to 12th avenues and from Balboa to Clement). An additional 30 percent were from the Richmond neighborhood.

While it was disappointing to have so many people ready to take on the planning commission decisions at City Hall yesterday and not have an actual vote, I agree with Jake McGoldrick that a continuance is a good idea. The heart and soul of legislation created by Matt Gonzales (for the very purpose for which we are using it now) is at stake here.
Time is on our side here. Letting people know what is going on is the most important thing. Starbucks (and Toyota too for that matter) with all its expertize and power in getting their brand name into peoples heads, did almost nothing to let their (proposed) neighbors know what their intentions were. In Starbucks defense (since they are not from the neighborhood and could not really know this) they did talk to both the Geary Merchants Boulevard Association as well as the Richmond District Planning Association (both which were in favor, both present at the Planning Meeting, and I think both absent at yesterdays meeting). Starbucks maybe just didnt know that these 2 organizations don't really represent the neighbohood very well. The Clement Street Organization was not notified. The bulk of the neighborhood notification came from this grassroots effort as well as some good (incidental) media coverage.

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