Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, author of San Francisco’s formula retail ballot measure (Proposition G), has unequivocally backed the appeal in a strong letter of support.
In the hearing before the Board of Appeals on August 21, a question came up as to the intent of the legislation.
Without a definitive answer, we were left with only conjecture. But that all changed when Assemblymember Ammiano delivered his letter of support, writing that to allow Jack Spade to move in without first holding a public hearing would subvert the intent of the formula retail ordinance.
“Measure G was intended to protect the community voice from being overshadowed by large corporate interests,” Ammiano writes. “Jack Spade has operated in bad faith by using store count technicalities to evade fair and transparent public processes.”
Text of the full letter:
RE: VCMA’s request for re-hearing with regard to building permits for Jack Spade
Dear Honorable Board Members:
I am writing to urge you to grant the Valencia Corridor Merchants’ Association’s (VCMA)
request for a hearing on the status of retailer Jack Spade moving into the 3166 16th Street.
As a proponent of the formula retail ordinance (Planning Code section 703.3) and as a former
supervisor who drafted the 2006 Measure G, I say without reservation that this case exemplifies
the type of activity that the legislation was originally written to remedy. As such, I believe that
the board should listen to the community’s concerns and require Jack Spade to submit to a
conditional use hearing.
The core intent of Measure G was to protect San Francisco’s small business sector understanding
that formula retail businesses have a competitive advantage over small businesses. It was written
to ensure that small businesses were not displaced by large formula retail businesses that “can
absorb large startup costs, pay for more lease space, and commit to longer lease contracts”
(Planning Code Section 703.3). It was also drafted with the understanding that small businesses
contribute more to local economies while formula retail circulates the bulk of money earned to
corporate offices and vendors outside of the city.
Although Jack Spade claims to not qualify as formula retail because they have ten stores instead
of eleven, they clearly are far from being a small business. Jack Spade refuses to acknowledge
that they are a part of the formula retail company Kate Spade, which has 80 stores in the nation
and 100 stores abroad. In its written brief, the VCMA documented the many ways in which Jack
Spade and Kate Spade are in fact one in the same, but it bears repeating:
• The heads of both brands (Kate and Jack) report to Kate Spade LLC. CEO, Craig Leavitt.
• Jack Spade does not have its own separate headquarters. It shares the same offices as
Kate Spade, in New York.
• All Jack Spade merchandise is delivered by the same transportation company from the
same warehouse (Distribution Center) and managed by the same logistics team at
Kate/Jack Spade Headquarters.
• Both brands share the same logistics software, IT, HR and legal departments.
• In its own 10-K filings, parent company Fifth and Pacific Companies declares that its
“Kate Spade brand offers fashion accessories for women under the Kate Spade and Kate
Spade Saturday trademarks and for men under the Jack Spade trademark.”
To assert that these facts do not matter when assessing Jack Spade’s formula retail status
completely goes against the original intent of Measure G.
It is very alarming that the Zoning Administrator would see fit for Jack Spade to bypass a
hearing that would allow transparency and community involvement when this process already
led to the type of displacement that Measure G seeks to prevent. The same time that Fifth and
Pacific made contact with the zoning administrator about their subsidiary Jack Spade, the
landlord of the 3166 16th St location increased rent for the then-occupier Adobe Books by a
significant $3,500. Adobe Books, which has contributed to the cultural character of the Mission
for 25 years, was later pushed out when the landlord still refused to renew the lease after
community members raised more than $60,000 to keep the store in business.
Measure G was intended to protect the community voice from being overshadowed by large
corporate interests. Jack Spade has operated in bad faith by using store count technicalities to
evade fair and transparent public processes. I urge you to grant VCMA’s request for a hearing on
the status of Jack Spade moving into the Mission District so that the community may voice their
opinions and concerns. Thank you for your consideration.
Assemblymember, AD 17