HVSafe Letter to Planning Department, RE: Trader Joe’s at 555 Fulton

We thank all of you who reached out to us to add your .02 and concerns about Trader Joe’s. We’re sharing our recent correspondence to the Planning Department and some of our positions on this matter.

We recognize taking a position is often fraught with apprehension, but we believe it’s critical for the health of civic dialogue, advocacy and the right to redress.

Attention San Francisco Planning Commission:

Hayes Valley is plagued with reckless driving and traffic congestion. SFMTA continues to minimize parking options. Meanwhile, there is no concrete plan to restore service for the 21 Hayes.

There are serious concerns regarding the impact of a Trader Joe’s in the area.  At the Town Hall community meeting, Trader Joe’s could not clearly address the proposed solutions to mitigate expected traffic issues. We were astounded to read, in the Planning Commission Draft Motion that TJ’s “is not anticipated to increase the volume of neighborhood traffic”. Our request for traffic studies (in order to ensure that the Market Octavia Community Vision Zero plan is upheld) have gone unanswered. For this reason alone, there is merit to give pause for this proposal. 

Notably, the same group in support of this proposal is responsible for the CBA. We’ve heard from small independent business members that the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) dismissed concerns of a chain store of this size coming into the neighborhood. We take issue with the HVNA presenting its view as one representing the broader view of the community. 

We are concerned that the addition of a Trader Joe’s will profoundly alter the business landscape of Hayes Valley. Its presence is broadly perceived to be detrimental to our local entrepreneurs and small store operators.

There is an opportunity, after all the starts and stops plaguing the 555 Fulton project, including the Mohammed Nuru scandal, to reset and fulfill this vacancy with a long-term tenant that aligns with the vision and character of our unique neighborhood. This area has undergone significant change after the Central Freeway was brought down, but it has fallen short of the equitable benefit promised to the community. Returning to our creative and social roots as we recover from the pandemic relies on effective enforcement of the Retail Formula Ban.

We ask you to confront the negative impacts of traffic and affordability for residents and businesses by reconsidering the approval of a Trader Joe’s or any other chain in Hayes Valley. 

Thank you for the opportunity to be heard.

HVSafe Communications Team

HVSafe Positions:

  • Hayes Valley is at a critical juncture with Formula Retail due to lack of monitoring & enforcement which has resulted in angst among locally funded small businesses about the prospect of this big chain (or any) coming in to the business district.
  • Since the search for a tenant at 555 Fulton started 6 plus years ago, the percentage of chains here has more than doubled; thus impacting the business landscape significantly.
  • The very heart and soul that has contributed to making it desirable to set up shop here is being threatened by increasing costs/overhead while more chains and well stacked investor businesses come in; we don’t view TJ’s as one that will enhance business ownership opportunities as outlined in Planning Code Section 101.1(b)
  • This is not a matter of the neighborhood being in a food desert; there are 2 Safeways, 1 Whole Foods, The Market at Twitter all within a 1/2- 1 mile radius. There’s also a Trader Joe’s 1.4 miles away.
  • This is clearly a matter of Real Estate interests continuing to drive up costs in our neighborhood via gentrification, while a subset of the neighborhood asserts otherwise.