Foodservice Equipment Reports

San Francisco Rezoning Not Bringing In New Restaurants?

Rezoning neighborhoods to allow for more restaurants is not working out as swiftly as hoped in San Francisco. For the second time in two years, the city’s Board of Supervisors has voted to remove a neighborhood’s longstanding restriction on opening new restaurants, and approved a limited number of new restaurant spaces in three other neighborhoods.  Still, according to The Wall Street Journal, the rezoning is not resulting in new restaurants. Two years after the city raised the number of restaurants allowed on Union Street, five new full-service restaurants have been approved but only one opened and it went out of business a few months later.

The limit on restaurants goes back to 1987, when the city prohibited eateries from opening in spaces that weren't already occupied by a restaurant. Many neighborhoods and merchant associations supported the changes. Local merchants were concerned that restaurants were squeezing out other small businesses, while residents feared being inundated with quick-serve chains.

Subsequently, San Francisco passed a separate rule making it harder to open chain restaurants in many neighborhoods. Since then, many small shops have closed their doors due to changing consumer habits and the recession, and shifted merchants' focus to filling vacant storefronts with whatever businesses available—including restaurants.

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