Ross Mirkarimi easing restrictions on mom-and-pop food, video stores 

San Francisco officials are increasingly tackling the outdated planning codes that are hindering business growth in neighborhood commercial areas.

The latest proposal introduced Tuesday by District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi -- which addresses a number of peculiar restrictions -- even prompted laughter from the supervisor:

“It removes the prohibition on small retailer coffee stores using toasters or microwave ovens to prepare food, which has been a prohibition,” Mirkarimi said. 

For retail coffee stores there is a limit on nonprepackaged foods that can be served but any equipment like a toaster oven or a microwave is prohibited, according to the legislation.

It also eases size restrictions on smaller food establishments.

Mirkarimi said that the legislation makes “several changes to the planning code so that it makes it easier to create, grow or relocate these small, locally-owned and neighborhood serving mom-and-pop restaurants  and cafes.” The changes, he said, “will help stimulate the local economy while fostering neighborhood growth and mom and pops to open or expand their restaurants.”

Another planning code it would amend is the regulation that requires all video stores to obtain a special conditional use permit – which requires public hearings and is appealable to the Board of Supervisors – to open up for business. Under the legislation, this special permit would not be required in certain commercial corridors.

“In the decade since video store controls were enacted, the video store industry has been transformed by the Internet, and [chain store] controls have been established. As of January 2011, the country’s largest video store chain is in bankruptcy protection, and the second largest is in liquidation,” the legislation says. “This ordinance will permit locally-owned, neighborhood video stores to form, grow and relocate without conditional use authorization in certain [commercial] districts.”


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