By Thomas K. Pendergast
(Originally published in the July, 2014, issue of the Sunset Beacon newspaper, a community news source serving the Richmond District of San Francisco.)
More than a year of fighting over whether a CVS Pharmacy should move into a large empty building at the corner of 19th Avenue and Ortega Street came to an end at a recent Planning Commission hearing when the proposal was approved after the SF Planning Department staff reversed its previous position and recommended approval.
"The project will be the only formula retail use (within that NC-1 district). The nearest similarly sized pharmacy store is located about .5 miles away, west of 19th Avenue. The project sponsor has addressed the department's previous concerns," Doug Vu of the SF Planning Department told the commission. "The sponsor has sufficiently addressed neighborhood concerns regarding parking, loading and pedestrian safety by submitting a pedestrian circulation and operations assessment that concluded the proposed project would not significantly increase traffic congestion.
"The project anticipates receiving one large corporate delivery truck per week and up to seven smaller delivery trucks from vendors. The trucks will utilize the proposed on-street loading space that would result in the net loss of only one on-street parking space," Vu said.
This announcement was in stark contrast to the staff's initial report from May of 2013, which listed several reasons why the project should not go forward, including the size and intensity of the proposed use being out of scale with the small neighborhood commercial district in which it is located; four other pharmacies being located a few blocks away from the project site; the project not being well served by transit; the project would lead to an over concentration of formula retail use in the Sunset District.