Happy Vape at 1963 Ocean Avenue could be a canary in the e-cigarette-store coal mine. That's to say that the proposed store, which was granted a conditional-use permit by the Planning Commission, is something of a test-case for vape or e-cigarette specific stores, as the Examiner reports. Why? A nearby resident has filed an appeal to overturn the commission decision to grant that conditional-use permit, with the Board of Supervisors scheduled to vote on the appeal Tuesday.
It's confusing, since some vape and e-cigarette shops are already operating in San Francisco legally since they opened before the board passed a law last year that extended existing rules on tobacco sales to e-cigarettes, basically equating the two. The decision on Happy Vape will be the first board vote under the new law. In other vape news, San Francisco's Health Department is soon debuting ads to discourage vape use.
"It is undesirable to have a business whose goal is to attempt to increase usage of these products and which will expose our children and students in our area to them," is the language of the neighbor's appeal.
The would-be proprietor of Happy Vape is Blake He, who himself quit smoking with e-cigarettes. The space he's chosen is the former home of an aquarium store, and he's called the business a chance to provide for his wife and newborn. E-cigarettes, after all, are a billion-dollar industry, estimates Bloomberg.
The plan: ground-floor vape and e-cig sales, plus a basement steam stone hookah lounge hookah lounge, which is a recently popularized hookah designed for inhaling vapor. The shop would close at 10 p.m., and like cigarette stores, would be over 18 only.
"I want to provide an alternative," He told the Examiner of his plans, "E-cigarettes is a vehicle to ground zero for no cigarettes for me. It's worked for me. It's worked for many others."
The nearest vape shop is 1.7 miles away, and the block is full of empty storefronts for other kinds of businesses to move in. For now, He is paying $4,000 a month for empty space.
We'll have to wait until the smoke — or vapor — clears on Tuesday to see how the city might treat vape businesses of this kind.