A tech-famous coffeeshop that was the storied birthplace of Airbnb and Stripe, The Creamery, is likely getting to move ahead with its plans to relocate to 14th and Mission streets from its former digs in SoMa. This is despite months of pushback and an environmental-impact appeal by neighborhood activists.
With at least one activist invoking The Slanted Door's arrival on Valencia Street three decades ago — considered by some to be an inflection point for Valencia's total gentrification — multiple neighborhood groups, business owners, and activists spoke out this week about why allowing The Creamery into the neighborhood was just one more nail in the coffin for the Mission as they know it. But as Mission Local reports, the Board of Supervisors was not convinced that invoking the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a common tool of anti-development activists, was not appropriate here. They voted unanimously to shut down the appeal to The Creamery's conditional use permit.
"Legacy residents are being forced out," said George Salome, the owner of nearby New Star Deli, during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting. As Mission Local reports, Salome was one of several business owners who also sell coffee and food nearby who don't appreciate the added competition.
Ben Terrall of the Cultural Action Network said during the meeting that "this is all about displacement," and tried to draw a connection to a 2004 successful CEQA appeal concerning a big-box development in Bakersfield.
Mission District Supervisor Hillary Ronen said during the meeting, "I understand the anxiety. [But] I simply do not see how CEQA legally applies." She also said that a little competition was probably better for the neighborhood than leaving another storefront empty.
The Creamery is looking to move into a vacant ground floor space in a new building at 14th and Mission Street that was previously a vacant lot. Owner Ivor Bradley has had the keys for the place since September, but he's still caught up getting his city approvals, as the Chronicle's Heather Knight noted, in part because of this appeals process — something that Knight has been vocally advocating against in her column. She refers to this conflict as "the latest chapter in the saga that might as well be titled 'San Francisco is arguing over what now?'"
There were also concerns about The Creamery serving alcohol, but the business has reportedly sold its liquor license.
The blog quotes Mission business owner Larisa Pedroncelli, who's a member of United to Save the Mission, calling The Creamery a "tech-centered café," and comparing it to the arrival of The Slanted Door a few block away and a few decades ago.
"I don’t think [gentrification is] what Charles Phan intended, but it was the result," Pedroncelli says.
48 Hills concedes that maybe CEQA doesn't apply, but that doesn't mean the city should have an "anti-gentrification plan" that can be invoked in these cases, to protect vulnerable businesses and residents.
Anyway, it looks like The Creamery will be moving to 14th and Mission. And Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Matt Haney still want to the Board to consider proposed legislation that would no longer allow single residents to file CEQA appeals and waste the Board's time, but would require at least fifty signatures to do so.
Top image: Kevin S./Yelp