Dema Grim (center) one of the members of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association celebrates on October 10, 2013 after the Board of Appeals grants her group a rehearing of their appeal of Jack Spade's building permit.

In a decisive victory for the group opposing Jack Spade’s arrival on 16th Street, the Board of Appeals voted 4 to 1 Wednesday to rehear an earlier appeal that failed after it ended in a split vote.

This means that the group of Valencia merchants opposing Jack Spade will have one more opportunity on December 11 to argue why the luxury retailer should be considered a chain store and thus undergo a stricter approval process.

In the rehearing request considered Wednesday night, the Valencia merchants had to prove there had been a “manifest injustice” in the process that  previously upheld Jack Spade’s right to the building permits allowing it to renovate the space it plans to move into.

After detailed arguments by Valencia Corridor Merchants Association spokesman Jefferson McCarley and 20 testimonies from the public during a comment period, four out of five board members voted for a rehearing on the question of whether Jack Spade was formula retail and thereby subject to a longer approval process that involves community input.

“I’m prepared to support a rehearing,” said commissioner Frank Fung in a change from his previous position. At the appeals hearing on August 21, Fung was the minority dissenting opinion in a 3-2 vote. Four votes were needed to strike down Jack Spade’s building permits. “The issue of escalating rents leads to a manifest injustice.”

Vice President Ann Lazarus, the sole “no” vote on Wednesday, also voted to uphold Jack Spade’s permit in August.

The issue of rent has come up frequently throughout the debate on Jack Spade moving into the neighborhood. Merchants have testified that Jack Spade’s connection to a larger corporate parent, the women’s designer Kate Spade, and its connection to the larger company Fifth and Pacific, means it can pay rent that is significantly above market rate.

In her testimony to the board, Jack Spade VP Melissa Xides said the company is paying a fair market rate of “$3 to $4  per square foot” for the space formerly occupied by Adobe Books. When prompted, she said the space her company is leasing is “about 2000 square feet.”

“We did not evict Andrew McKinley,” Xides said of Jack Spade’s relationship to the space’s former tenant.

Brett Lockspeiser, a member of the Adobe Books Collective, which has moved to 24th Street, told the board that he disagreed with Xides.

“We made a bid to pay market rate,” Lockspeiser said. “But we were told that our bid was not being considered seriously because Jack Spade was offering well above market rate.”

Following the board’s decision, Xides said she was disappointed that Frank Fung changed his mind, especially regarding rents. “The only reason Adobe’s lease wasn’t granted is because no one individual wanted to a put a name on the lease, that’s why they were evicted,” Xides said.

But Lockpeiser held his ground on Adobe’s lease. “That is just false. We had an individual on a new lease that we signed, we had one name.”

In addition to the increased details about raising rents, Wednesday’s hearing included significant opinions from the original architects of San Francisco’s chain store, or formula retail, law.

The opposition presented the board with a letter from former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez, who drafted the original 2006 legislation Section 703.3 of the Planning Code. They also heard from a letter written by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, the author of Prop G, the voter-approved ballot measure that called for stricter chain store regulation.

“In order to fulfill the clear intent of the law in a common sense manner, it will be necessary, in some cases, to consider corporate ownership/structure,” wrote Gonzalez, suggesting that Jack Spade’s relationship to a larger corporate entity be considered when determining whether or not it is formula retail.

Board president Chris Hwang said the two letters from the architects of the formula retail provisions were persuasive and voted once again on the side of the Valencia merchants. “From my view, Jack Spade is formula retail and doesn’t belong in the place it wants to move,” she said.

Like the two previous hearings regarding this issue, the night featured impassioned testimony from a swath of Mission residents, teachers, business people and representatives from various nonprofits.

“I don’t feel that a business like Jack Spade cares about my community,” said Pia Lopez, a public school teacher raised in the Mission. “The Mission is becoming a playground of people not from the neighborhood. Jack Spade will make a really bad situation even worse.”

Carmen Costello, one of two people who spoke in favor of Jack Spade during the public comments, said she was a 72-year resident of the Mission and felt that the Valencia merchants were unfairly harassing Jack Spade.

“We’re trying to get the Mission cleaned up, there’s drugs, bums, alcoholics and prostitutes,” Costello said. “We want a good business on 16th Street.”

The debate about Jack Spade, which has polarized the neighborhood around 16th Street and even garnered national media attention with a piece in The New Yorker’s blog, is part of a larger one that involves the entire city’s relationship to chains.

The Board of Supervisors is currently working on legislation initially drafted by Supervisor Eric Mar about strengthening the city’s definition of formula retail, making it harder for businesses like Jack Spade to move into certain neighborhoods in the future.

Jack Spade’s specific future on 16th Street will be determined next on December 11 when the Board of Appeals rehears the question of whether Spade should be considered formula retail.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Board of Appeals scheduled a rehearing for December 12. The article above has been corrected to reflect the actual date of the rehearing, Wednesday, December 11. Thanks to commenter Rebekah for spotting the error.

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Daniel Hirsch is a freelance writer who has been living in the Mission since 2009. When he's not contributing to Mission Local, he's writing plays, working as an extra for HBO, and/or walking to the top of Bernal Hill.

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  1. Very pathetic to backtrack like this on a good business that had already been approved. This is a loss for the neighborhood.

    1. The point of the result of this recent hearing was that it should not have been approved.

      You’ve nothing to offer as proof that the Mission has suffered any loss because this overpriced trash won’t be sold here nor that it hurts the Mission to keep greedy landlords and duplicitious multinational corporations from conspiring vs. small businesses and local economy.

      1. I offer you an empty storefront with drug dealers hanging out in front of it that smells like pee – I know though we all prefer that to an evil chain store! The tactics employed by the Mission are strikingly similar to those of the Republicans they claim to abhor and their unjust shutdown.

  2. A couple dozen or so speakers at the hearing.
    3 in favor of Jack Spade in the Mission = two biz owners and one resident.

    In the comments here, nearly a dozen different pro-Spades.
    Where were they all last night?

    Obvious astroturfing.

    btw, Ms. Xides admitted when questioned by Frank Fung, Spade are spending over $200,000 just on renovations in the space.
    Digest that: 200G. A lot of biz in the Mission don’t even gross that amount in 6 months.
    Gross, indeed.

    Spade aka 5th and Pacific nee Liz Clairborne just sold their ~other~ brand, Juicy Couture, for $195million. In cash.

    Motley Fool/Wall Street pundits tout Spade:
    “Jack Spade operates as an independently run subsidiary of Fifth & Pacific. It has 10 brick-and-mortar stores in the US located in high-end shopping districts in major metropolitan areas, an e-commerce site, and wholesale to fine department stores like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Barney’s, and 197 other specialty shops.

    Fifth & Pacific CEO William McComb believes the brand can grow to $100 million in revenue, especially as it moves into China, now the primo-market of lifestyle brand retail.””

    1. What about that Mickey D’s and Burger King, right there on 16th and Mission? They’ve got way deeper pockets than Liz Clairborne. Is the community against places like those?

      1. They sell crap but it’s affordable and enjoyed by people that’ve likely lived in the neighborhood far longer than you have.
        Or at least they would still be eating there if they could afford to live in the neighborhood anymore and hadn’t been forced out by the synergy of rising commercial space rents and rising residential space rents.

        “Willie Miller-Castillo
        September 15, 2013 at 12:44 am

        “I was born and raised in the Mission-When this Mc Donalds opened-we were all so happy in the community-i was a teenager and spent alot of time there!I love that this is a community gathering place!If I still could afford to live in SF I would probably still be going there!!!-I also wish there were pictures with your articles!Thank you for reminding me of my old hangout!!!”

          1. That’s right, it’s cool if McDonalds is exploiting and poisoning you – you see, it’s been there longer than the white tech workers, so it’s ok. The Mission is all about how long things and people have been there. No room for new people or new opinions on things – the ‘newcomers’ aren’t welcome and should know their place.

  3. I wonder where they’re fancy custom “anti Jack Spade” shirts come from… American Apparel? Fruit of the Loom?

    1. Come to Jack Off 16th tonight and find out for yourself.
      And if you ask nicely, someone will probably give you one.

      Come all ye faithful and celebrate Spade’s coitus interruptus!

      “5th and Pacific CEO Bill McComb…confirmed that the company is giving up on this controversial location, where activists were concerned its deep-pocketed presence would accelerate gentrification of the neighborhood.

      “[We’re] not going to war with the neighbors. We like those people and their neighborhood and we are not fighting the issue. There are many a fine location for Jack Spade. Peace to the city!””

      Yeah, peace out and good riddance to bad trash.

  4. Listen, all of you crazy haters out there. All we asked for was a conditional use hearing, so that the community could decide, you know, AS A COMMUNITY, whether or not bringing Jack Spade to the neighborhood is a good idea. And we’re now heading down that path. If the community decides it’s a go, then it’s a go, so you may well get your way. But at least we’ll get to decide as a community.

    The massive, international corporation that owns Jack Spade tried to sidestep local legislation by exploiting an egregious loophole. We just asked that the intent of that legislation be recognized, and we were heard. So here we are, in a situation where the community gets to decide. That’s democracy, that’s the law, and that’s how it should be done.

    1. Not the case..Jack Spade has now pulled out. It’s over..and It’s a terrible loss to those that live, work and own bushiness on 16th street..who were mostly pro Jack Spade opening. So for those who it will most effect…not retailers 10 blocks away that used to work for gap…it is a huge disappointment. And honestly the movement that threatens to jack off on a building and has a fundraiser called jack-off..well these are just in very poor taste.

  5. Bunch of hypocrites. Pathetic.

    “I don’t feel that a business like Jack Spade cares about my community”


  6. I am ashamed of my city officials as well as my community. The facts in this case have all been set aside by the irrational fear of change. The board is using public comment as evidence. Not cool. Public comment is never to be hears as factual. This new tenant did not bring higher rents, cultural displacement, corporate presence, or anything other than a good business to fill an otherwise vacant homeless encampment on 16th Street. Jack Spade is actually paying less per square foot than I am. My business has been on 16th street for the last 18 years and I don’t understand how the Valencia Street Merchants are able to personify gentrification of our city in a business that is actually pretty unique. Hey Valencia, you don’t like gentrification now? Well that’s convenient, now that you have your sparkling sidewalks, $2000 bicycles, $1000 chairs, and yes, your $300 jeans. Go piss on your own street!

    1. Ugh I just can’t even believe a bunch of business owners who aren’t even on 16th street would go so far to stop a store that had done everything by the books, just because they are afraid their businesses can’t stand the test of time. It’s despicable and they are a bunch of bullies. Yes your 1000 bikes are not gentrification Jackson. Give me an effing break. This is truly a huge loss for 16th street. And it just shows that sometimes those who scream the loudest are often heard. The bullies just won.

    2. You are articulate, albeit incorrect. It’s a shame you’re unable to grasp the entire dynamic of the problem.

  7. That’s it! As of now, I boycotting the members of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association unless they withdraw their opposition to Jack Spade!

  8. Thanks for covering this issue. I wanted to point out however the rehearing date is Wednesday December 11 not the 12th.

  9. Disgusting!
    The permits for Jack Spade has already been approved. JS had gone through all the hoops necessary to have this done. It is not an easy feat. JS is an improvement to a definitely rundown, blighted section of 16th St. Plus Adobe Books moved on to a new & actually better location.
    Can’t believe a handful of NIMBYs got this rehearing. As for the non-profits, they are an industry in themselves – Talk about chutzpah!
    Anyway, the battle cry of no more chains has come too late – Just look on Mission St, as well as all the new condo projects along Market, Mission, Valencia, etc. – All of them seem to have a bank, or a chain at the ground floor.
    Good luck Jack Spade!

    1. Err, that section of 16th St. is not run down by any means. Bars, restaurants, thriving with life and unique shops and boutiques.