Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Retail & Industry
Published on November 06, 2019
Supervisors vote yes on Trader Joe's Hayes Valley location, but final approvals at least a year awayThe Trader Joe's location at Hyde and California streets. | Photo: Mami H./Yelp

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to allow grocery chain Trader Joe's to open in the ground-floor space of a new condo building at 555 Fulton St. (at Laguna), the Chronicle reports.

As we previously reported, the grocer was facing a significant hurdle — Hayes Valley's formula retail ban, which bars businesses with 11 or more worldwide locations from opening in the neighborhood. However, the Supervisors are allowed to award dispensations to certain businesses on a case-by-case basis.

However, Trader Joe's still has another significant legal hurdle in front of it: it must also apply for a conditional use authorization from the Planning Department, which could take another year to two years. 

The Fulton Street development. | Photo: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline

At a community meeting hosted by District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown last month, store representatives said that once they received all the necessary clearances, they'll need approximately 18 months to open the doors.

The proposed store has generally met with positive feedback from residents of Hayes Valley and the Western Addition, who've longed for a full-service grocery store. Civic Center and Tenderloin residents, who also lack a grocery, are likely to benefit as well. 

Mayor London Breed, Brown's predecessor as District 5 Supervisor, worked for nearly two years to get Portland-based chain New Seasons Market to take the space, but it ultimately pulled out of the project in January 2018.

However, not everyone in the neighborhood is thrilled about Trader Joe's arrival. Nida Yousef, manager of Hayes Street market Nabila's Naturals, says she's concerned about the store's impact on "the little guys" like her.

As she noted to the Chronicle, Trader Joe's is owned by the German family behind grocery conglomerate Aldi. "We can’t pick and choose which chains we want and which we don’t,” she said.

At the meeting last month. | Photo: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline

Trader Joe's representatives noted last month that they will have to hire at least 100 people to get the store open. To address the lack of jobs for Western Addition residents, the grocer — known for its above-average pay and employee benefits — said it will work to employ transitional-age youth (18-26) and seniors from the neighborhood. 

Neighbors' concerns about the store have largely centered on traffic and parking, as well as the potential impact of lines of cars on Fulton Street's bike lane.

Supervisor Brown, who was not at Tuesday's Board hearing as she faced a heated campaign for her seat, said that she wants "tight traffic enforcement" to prevent congestion. Residents will be encouraged to walk, bike or take transit to the store instead.

Feedback or questions about the proposed Trader Joe's can be sent to [email protected] or directly to Supervisor Brown's office.