New Fresh & Easy Still in Permit Process

Plans for a new Fresh & Easy on South Van Ness Avenue where a shuttered Delano's currently are being put on hold. Mission Local file photo.

Plans for a new Fresh & Easy on South Van Ness Avenue where a shuttered Delano's currently are being put on hold. Mission Local file photo.

After so much hubbub, the lot containing the defunct Delano’s IGA supermarket seems eerily quiet.

The Planning Commission recently approved Fresh & Easy’s application to build a new outlet at the site, on South Van Ness Avenue between 23rd and 24th streets, but where’s the construction?

“Everything is moving along, we’re just going through the permit process,” said Schuyler Jackson, Fresh & Easy’s real estate director.

Brittany Bendix, the city planner assigned to the project, said: “It’s currently moving through the Department of Building Inspections, so that’s a good thing.”

“We’ll probably be looking to start construction sometime next year,” said Jackson.

Fresh & Easy, an American chain owned by British grocery giant Tesco, has gotten Mission community flak for being non-union (as opposed to the neighborhood’s two other grocery stores, Foods Co. and Safeway, both of which are unionized). Fresh & Easy has tried to allay concerns by promising to hire locally, but hasn’t laid out its plan for making that happen.

The company’s self-checkout lanes have also drawn skepticism from community members who call them “anti-labor,” as well as from the Planning Commission. Worried that self-checkout lanes could make it easier for minors to buy alcohol, the commission required that Fresh & Easy maintain a lane staffed by a person, to which the company agreed.

17 Comments

  1. MissionBlight

    That’s great news but does that mean we have to look at the wall of graffiti and trash for 6 more months? I used to be excited about this project, now I just wish they’d keep the building in semi-repair. Taggers paradise.

  2. suki

    Fresh and Easy is anything but. Very sorry that we couldn’t get a Rainbow Coop annex in there instead.

  3. emilia

    The timeline on this project is ridiculous! You’d think whomever owns that property and is renting it to Fresh & Easy would clean it up themselves or require F&E to maintain it until they get their act together. Not that their act is going to improve that block much if there aren’t going to be any employees to sweep or clean or deal with ongoing grafitti. I can’t even believe their application to open was approved since they’re basically not adding any jobs to the neighborhood. I feel like they’re trying to profit off of the locals without contributing ANYTHING back. I heard their food selections are super unhealthy (mostly prepackaged crap, which might be easy, but certainly isn’t fresh) and their employee ethics are worse. Fresh & Easy? More like Trash & Sleazy.

    I, too, wish a different grocer was going into that location. Where are the pioneers?!

    • marco

      Likely only the large chains can afford to wait for the Planning/Building departments’ endless backlogs.

  4. annoyed

    I agree with you all. Fresh & Easy or the property owner needs to MAINTAIN their building, or it will continue to attract nothing but graffiti, trash, and other nuisances. I’m annoyed that they were approved several months ago, but construction will not begin until “sometime next year.” What is the hold-up? In any event, the current state of the property is inexcusable, and it will only contribute to the gang activity (by permitting tags for months) and other quality-of-life issues (people are literally camping out in the parking lot) confronting our neighborhood. Fresh & Easy has made a poor first impression on its neighbors.

    • marco

      It is likely not the fault of F&E — its San Francisco’s onerous planning/building departments that make this process take so long. If you’ve ever been through it, it’s a bit like the movie “Brazil”.

  5. SFSquee

    Whoever moves in better get a handle on the property now. Next *year* IS ridiculous. Absent landlord, absent F&E…. Lose/lose situation. F&E already has challenges moving in and they aren’t making an friends by letting a building look like what it does now.

  6. marco

    ha! “It’s currently moving through the Department of Building Inspections, so that’s a good thing.” — Well it would be a good thing if it were actually moving, but anyone who’s worked with DBI can attest that that movement is very very slow. It’s no wonder only the rich and large corporations can start a business in SF when it can take a year or more to get a project — even smaller ones — through the planning and building departments, while the business owner all that time often has to pay rent for the time period that things are “moving” through the planning and building departments. For a city that supposedly supports small business, San Francisco is about the must unfriendly city I know. Why is that?

    • BrokenSFPlanning

      I looked up the building permit process with SF Planning Dept. for the F&E project. It reads like a horror story going back and forth between 10 different departments. No wonder local businesses don’t take on projects like this. If you’re wondering why this location isn’t another Rainbow Grocer, send a message to Lee and Campos that the current process to start a business in SF sucks.

  7. Thanks for following up, ML. I’ve been wondering about this business and its opening timeline lately. I’m looking forward to a full-service grocery store within walking distance of my house. Having visited other F&E locations, I think their selection will meet most of my basic needs, though i suspect I’ll supplement with Rainbow occasionally. I wish they’d open sooner and maintain the property better, as some of my fellow posters have also mentioned.

  8. sfmissionman

    You’d think that our neighborhood would be excited and positive about Fresh and Easy. But no. Instead, I hear a long list of “wishes.” Wish it were a Safeway. Wish it were Rainbow. Wish it were union; or better still, a collective. Sometimes rigid adherence to ideology means you end up with nothing, or in this case, a lot of delay, about which the same voices predictably whine. Personally, I wish the Cala, which was open 24hrs. and was a full service, economical supermarket, were still here. But it’s not. So I’m looking forward to Fresh and Easy, and I recommend the neighborhood stop wishing and whining.

  9. emilia

    Quick update! At least there is some good news to report. Thanks to everyone who has called to report the excessive graffiti, myself included, F&E (or the landlord) had someone out this weekend to paint over the majority of the tags, with only a few remaining on the roof. I know it will continue, but at least they are making an effort. Yay!

    Now I guess I need to start calling the DBI. You’d think that with the economy being in the state it is, they’d be rolling out the red carpet instead of a year’s worth of red tape when prospective businesses want to open. That’s definitely not small-business friendly at all. Does anyone know when the process became so complicated? How did places like Rainbow get through it the first time around?

  10. SFSquee

    Emilia, thanks for calling in the graffiti reports too. Over the last few months I thought I was the only one doing this but great to know there’s others out there concerned about the empty building. It got tagged again but a DPW notice was already posted today about the new tags.

    For the permits: only in SF can a grocery store go out of business and the site requires over a year of meetings, permits, and notices….just to open a grocery store. I wish the planning and permitting departments in SF would hear more positive support for projects.

  11. randolph mortimer

    Agreed – please keep calling in the graffiti reports. Once the city issues a notice to the responsible party, they will start fining them per day if the graffiti isn’t cleaned up within a certain time period. Costing people dollars if they neglect their responsibilities is one of the ONLY ways to get someone to take action in this city – and the city also has incentive to actually enforce the graffiti laws if they think can possibly get some fine dollars out of it.

  12. Ramon

    Sorry for being late in posting on this one (I was out of town). I must reply to the person who is saddened that Rainbow grocery didn’t make an attempt to open a branch in the building where Fresh ‘n Easy will (with hope) be located soon. Have you seen the demographic of this neighborhood? While Rainbow is a fine store, many people cannot possibly afford to shop in markets such as it or Whole Foods. (This includes people of all races, and new residents as well as those who have lived here for many years,by the way.) Judging from the two F ‘n E markets that I’ve visited, this is a fairly good store and one that is much needed in the heart of the Mission. Currently, many people must take either the 12-Folsom or 27-Bryant to get to the other two markets in the extreme northern part of the Mission. Rainbow and Whole Foods (both of which are rather expensive) are accessible to those who desire to shop there. Please let the inner-Mission have a market that is easily accessible and is affordable to everyone.

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