As expected, SF Supervisor Dean Preston made a move at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting to begin a process of cajoling Safeway not to shutter its 40-year-old grocery store in the Fillmore District, at least not yet.
It seems odd for a city government to try to tell a private company they can't close a store if they want to. But it's not like this hasn't been tried before in SF — and sometimes, through back-room negotiations or whathaveyou, such efforts work, as in the CVS location that was slated to close in the Lower Haight but now isn't.
Supervisor Dean Preston, who seemed to have some role in keeping that CVS open, expressed his dismay when we learned last week that Safeway was planning to close its four-decade-old store at Webster and Geary at the beginning of March. And SFist surmised that he might try to get the timeline for the closure extended, at the very least, given that this move is going to deprive an entire — mostly low-income — neighborhood of its only real grocery store.
Preston is doing just that, and he introduced a resolution at today's Board of Supervisors meeting, saying, "Safeway should remain open until the developer buying the property breaks ground, and beyond that, we should make sure that any development on the site includes a new grocery store."
Preston noted that many residents in the area rely on this store not only for basic food needs, but also for its pharmacy and the Wells Fargo branch location inside.
"I stand in solidarity with the community and urge Safeway to rescind the closure plan and meet with community and city leaders to develop a plan for this crucial site in the heart of the Fillmore that not only avoids harm, but actually benefits the community," Preston said, per KRON4.
Majeid Crawford, executive director of the New Community Leadership Foundation, gave a statement to KRON4 on the situation saying, "Safeway has operated for over forty years at this site, and to abruptly close in March with less than two months’ notice is painful to the entire community that relies on this grocery store."
The 3.68-acre property is being sold to Align Real Estate, which has plans to redevelop it into a mixed-use complex with potentially thousands of units of new housing spread over more than ten stories. But it should be clear to everyone involved that any such development plan will take years to get approved and get underway — and Safeway wants to close its doors in two months.
Mayor London Breed expressed her support for the development plan last week, calling it "a real and rare opportunity to add a significant amount of new homes in this part of the city."
Safeway said it had no plans to be a part of the redevelopment project, but the developer would likely want to put a new grocery store into the space, given the lack of one in the area and the new level of need that will be created by thousands of new residents.
Safeway has not commented on Preston's resolution, and it remains to be seen whether it will even have any teeth.
Safeway put out an earlier statement on the closure saying "decisions like these are never easy, nor are they made without a great deal of consideration."