Open Letter To The San Francisco Chronicle

February 10, 2009 by

Dear San Francisco Chronicle,

I want to register my profound disappointment with your lack of reporting on the battle to stop American Apparel from opening a store at 988 Valencia. And when I say lack of reporting I don’t mean you did a bad job reporting on an issue that was hugely important, and interesting, to a large number of San Francisco residents, I mean that you didn’t report on it at all.

Two weeks before the planning commission hearing (most Mission residents only found out about the pending chain-store opening beginning 20 days before the meeting when A.A. was required to post a sign in their store window) almost every business, co-op, and non-profit within two blocks of the proposed store had a Stop American Apparel sign in their window. We made the posters to inform the neighborhood that a formula retail chain wanted to open on a street filled almost exclusively with small, local businesses. Once people knew, there were large demonstrations and a giant petition drive that gathered 2,500 signatures. The neighborhood banded together. But we shouldn’t have had to inform the neighborhood, that should have been your job.

The day of the hearing hundreds of Mission residents, workers, landlords, and merchants both for and against (though overwhelmingly against) crowded into the planning commission hearing and two overflow rooms in city hall. We’ve been told it was the largest turnout for a planning commission hearing ever. Where were you?

It’s amazing you didn’t run a single news story on the topic. Instead of a reported story examining the conflict and informing the public of the hearing, you waited until after the fact to run a front page editorial by C.W. Nevius on Saturday making fun of The Mission and deliberately mis-characterizing the issue as being hipsters vs. American Apparel. But it was always about a diverse neighborhood coming together to decide whether or not to allow formula retail (American Apparel has 250 stores) on its streets.  Today you ran another editorial caricaturing the Mission district, this time by Caille Millner in the business section.

Editorials are supposed to provoke, but they don’t belong on the front page of a newspaper. You’re supposed to keep us informed. It’s sad to see you completely drop the ball on this important story. Two of your top conservative columnists wrote editorials, couldn’t you have assigned one reporter?

Stephen Elliott

Yes On Websites, No On Vandalism

February 7, 2009 by

A quick note. There’s a poster glued to the window of 988 Valencia protesting American Apparel and listing this website. We do not support or condone vandalism. We encourage vandals to link to their own websites.

Speaking of websites, the good news is American Apparel has removed 988 Valencia Street as an upcoming location on their website.

Thanks again everyone for all your hard work. Let’s continue to take the high road in this debate on the future of our neighborhood.

You Won! (UPDATED)

February 5, 2009 by

San Francisco’s Planning Commission turned down American Apparel’s bid to open at 988 Valencia Street by a 7-0 tally.

The outpouring of community spirit was inspiring. Thanks and congratulations to everyone who wrote letters and everyone who made it to City Hall today (they had to open up two overflow rooms). A very special thanks to the oh-so-patient members of the planning board: Ron Miguel, Christina Olague, Michael J. Antonini, Gwyneth Borden, William L. Lee, Kathrin Moore, and Hisashi Sugaya.

But, like Christina Olague and others on the board noted, we shouldn’t let this stop here. MEDA, whose Dairo Romero worked on this campaign, is one community group that was mentioned tonight … and they are just one out of many community organizations in the Mission.

Be proud of what you did today. Show it by going out and getting even more involved in your community.

Also, check back here for more updates about upcoming community activism.

Lastly, of course, thank you again. You did it!

***UPDATE***

If you feel that you haven’t written enough letters yet, or even if you feel like you have, how about sending one last round to thank the folks on the Planning Board (who, again, are all volunteers). They hung out for a long time yesterday, and gave everyone who wanted it two minutes to speak (they could have shortened everyone’s time to one minute). So let the folks on the Planning Board know how much you care that they care, show them some love:

Christina Olague

1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103

(415) 558-6615 x 3 c_olague@yahoo.com
Ron Miguel
600 De Haro Street
San Francisco, CA  94107
Phone:  (415) 601-0708
Fax:  (415) 641-8621

rm@well.com

Michael J. Antonini

2827 Franklin Street
San Francisco, CA  94123-3107

Phone:  (415) 558-6615 x 6
Fax:  (415) 558-6409
wordweaver21@aol.com

Gwyneth Borden 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 367-3801
plangsf@gmail.com

William L. Lee

Director of International Economic
& Tourism Development
San Francisco International Airport
P.O. Box 8097
San Francisco, CA  94128

Phone:  (415) 558-6615 x 8
Fax:  (650) 821-3953
bill.lee@flysfo.com

Kathrin Moore San Francisco, Planning Department
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 558-6615 x 4
mooreurban @speakeasy.net
Hisashi Sugaya

San Francisco Planning Department
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103-2414

(415) 558-6615 x 2
(415) 558-6409 fax
hs.commish@yahoo.com

Game Day

February 5, 2009 by

Everything in Steve’s post below still stands.

Today, February 5, 1:30pm, Room 400, City Hall.

See you there.

The Planning Commission

February 3, 2009 by

Hey guys. The planning commission meeting is this Thursday, officially at 1:30, though it probably won’t happen until 2:30. Be sure to check back here for updates. The hearing is in room 400 of City Hall. Something to remember is that the planning commissioners are serving without pay. This is a volunteer, civil service position, so please be very respectful of them. Appreciate that they’re doing all of us a service.

It’s also helpful to contact them directly. Tell them who you are, where you live, how long you’ve been there. If possible use a non-anonymous email so they know you’re not someone with an agenda only pretending to represent the community. They’re much more likely to take you seriously if you’re not anonymous.

Here is their contact information:

Christina Olague
Commission President

1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103

(415) 558-6615 x 3 c_olague@yahoo.com
Ron Miguel
Vice President
600 De Haro Street
San Francisco, CA  94107
Phone:  (415) 601-0708
Fax:  (415) 641-8621

rm@well.com

Michael J. Antonini

2827 Franklin Street
San Francisco, CA  94123-3107

Phone:  (415) 558-6615 x 6
Fax:  (415) 558-6409
wordweaver21@aol.com

Gwyneth Borden 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 367-3801
plangsf@gmail.com

William L. Lee

Director of International Economic
& Tourism Development
San Francisco International Airport
P.O. Box 8097
San Francisco, CA  94128

Phone:  (415) 558-6615 x 8
Fax:  (650) 821-3953
bill.lee@flysfo.com

Kathrin Moore San Francisco, Planning Department
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 558-6615 x 4
mooreurban @speakeasy.net
Hisashi Sugaya

San Francisco Planning Department
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103-2414

(415) 558-6615 x 2
(415) 558-6409 fax
hs.commish@yahoo.com

Werner Werwie

February 3, 2009 by

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

American Apparel has already managed to open a store on Haight Street, despite a memorandum/ban there for chain or formula stores!! Very sneaky!!

My name is Werner Werwie. I immigrated to San Francisco from Germany in 1984 and fulfilled the American Dream. I leaned the language and submerged myself into the subculture of San Francisco by opening my first store “Clothes Contact“. We were the first used clothing store on Valencia Street.We opened our first store in 1986 on 473 Valencia at 16th Street. Clothes Contact was a true early pioneer on Valencia street. Our neighbors were the Picaro Cafe and Rainbow Grocery and then “nothing” – commercial desert. . . The 5000 square foot store was used as a storage room for “Golden Bear”, before we moved in. Three years later we incorporated as “Retro City Fashions, Inc.” We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary this year in June!

We now have 6 stores with 40 employees in the Mission, Haight and Telegraph/Berkely, 6 VERY different stores -ranging from Thrift Store to High End Vintage Boutique, (“Held Over” and “La Rosa Vintage” on Haight Street, check them out next time your on Haight!))

We have always paid more than minimum wages and offer a company HMO health plan to full timers. We have been recycling clothing and fabric (being green !!) for 23 years, providing cool fashions and fabrics to hundred of thousands of happy customers. Most of our inventory is “vintage”, 20 years old or older. Most of our business is local but we do have fans coming from all over the world. Manager and staff of eight all live in the Mission We hire and promote locally!

We sell A LOT (!!!) of clothing, not just for Halloween or the Burning Man event but every single day – and are not afraid of competion. In fact, the American Apperal store would most likely help our revenues – but we are concerned about Valencia Street being turned into ANOTHER boring strip mall.

It took Valencia Street over 20 years to develop into a wonderful destrict and I’m saddened to see it going downhill with formula / chain stores!! Please vote against an American Apparel store on Valencia.

Thank you for your consideration, Werner Werwie, Retro City Fashions, Inc. President

Thanks for Coming Out!

February 3, 2009 by

A big thank you to everyone who came out last night to show their support for keeping big, international chains off of Valencia Street.

A very special thanks to Supervisor David Campos for attending the event and expressing his support. Also, of course, thank you very much to everyone who performed!

This is it folks, final push … if you haven’t written letters yet it is now or never:

Pilar LaValley
San Francisco Planning Department
Pilar.Lavalley@sfgov.org

Please feel free to write letters directly to members of the Planning Board as well:

1. Christina Olague

1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 558-6615 x 3
c_olague@yahoo.com

2. Ron Miguel

600 De Haro Street
San Francisco, CA  94107
Phone:  (415) 601-0708
Fax:  (415) 641-8621
rm@well.com

3. Michael J. Antonini

2827 Franklin Street
San Francisco, CA  94123-3107
Phone:  (415) 558-6615 x 6
Fax:  (415) 558-6409
wordweaver21@aol.com

4. Gwyneth Borden

1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 367-3801
plangsf@gmail.com

5. William L. Lee

San Francisco International Airport
P.O. Box 8097
San Francisco, CA  94128
Phone:  (415) 558-6615 x 8
Fax:  (650) 821-3953
bill.lee@flysfo.com

6. Kathrin Moore

1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103
(415) 558-6615 x 4
mooreurban@speakeasy.net

7. Hisashi Sugaya

1650 Mission Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA  94103-2414
phone: (415) 558-6615 x 2
fax: (415) 558-6409
hs.commish@yahoo.com

Rally Tonight!

February 2, 2009 by

We’re having a rally this evening at 7pm at Amnesia Bar on Valencia. This may be our last big rally before the hearing with the planning commission on Thursday. So let’s make a great turnout. We’re going to have entertainment featuring readings from Daniel Alarcon, Evan Rehill, Peter Orner, and Daphne Gottlieb, comedy by Nato Green, and music by Dan Weis. There’ll be a bank of typewriters set up so you can write a letter to the planning board.

The rally is at 7pm. At 9pm Belle Monroe and Her Brewglass Boys will perform. They are a rowdy country/bluegrass band. It should be a great event. Looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Chicken John

January 31, 2009 by

Former Mayoral Candidate Chicken John Comes Out Strong Against American Apparel Opening On Valencia.

It’s Official

January 30, 2009 by

District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty has announced that he too is against American Apparel moving in at 988 Valencia Street (click the link and send Supervisor Dufty a note of appreciation).

Dufty will make a phone call later today to let the Planning Board know his feelings about the subject, citing concerns about American Apparel’s lack of outreach to the community before trying to open a storefront on Valencia Street.

To Supervisor Dufty, our sincerest thanks!


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