Today’s Headlines

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  • Justin

    How could TJ’s have come to the conclusion that limited parking was going to prevent a store in the Castro from being profitable? I really, really just don’t see it. So many pedestrians, such a dense area, so much transit. It’s just sad because TJ’s stores are actually a decent, small scale store like the walk-in grocers one finds in Britain for instance, i.e. Tesco. Why does a small store even need parking if its in a dense neighborhood? When TJs tries to use these small stores with lots of parking you get the kind of over-crowded mess that occurs at so many of their stores.


  • Frank


    I lived next to the TJ’s on Masonic when it was built out maybe ten or so years ago, and the impact was horrific, especially since people tried to turn right into TJ’s across 3 lanes of traffic.

    When that was stopped with bollards, the traffic would turn into a residential street and then do a 180. It’s still bad now.

    The problem is that TJ’s isn’t just a neighborhood food store. It’s a destination store for miles around, because of their prices. And because they’re cheap, people buy a lot there, which of course means it is more difficult to carry on a bus or bike, meaning they drive.

    Maybe if there more of them, more like the Tesco Express stores you refer to, that would help. While so far the new WholeFoods at Haight and Stanyan appears to be managing traffic well, albeit with two parking staff there directing.

    There’s a new Mollie Stones in the Castro – how’s that dealing with the problem?

  • Frank,

    You have a certain writing style, I guess using the same name isn’t that big of a deal after all.

    “especially since people tried to turn right into TJ’s across 3 lanes of traffic.”
    “the traffic would turn into a residential street and then do a 180. It’s still bad now.”

    Once again, you make excellent arguments for more strict licensing requirements.

    TJ’s serves the Wharf area just fine. They maybe have 30 spots (I’d say that’s high but we don’t drive when we shop there so parking is never an issue). Only during peak times (7-8pm) do I see a couple cars backed up on Mason waiting to turn.

    “And because they’re cheap, people buy a lot there”
    It’s not Costco.

    “WholeFoods at Haight and Stanyan appears to be managing traffic well, albeit with two parking staff there directing.”
    Then TJ’s needs to hire someone to do the same. Every store with parking should do the same. They are the ones profiting and should help mitigate their impacts.

  • Nick

    Trader Joe’s is so profitable because they refuse to make poor business decisions. In this case, they aren’t willing to take the risk on being a transit-oriented business.

    Look at bike parking at their stores. It is an AFTERTHOUGHT. Masonic has 1 crappy communal rack. Wouldn’t they benefit from turning at least one of their private parking spaces into a bike corral?

    Their SOMA store has a few racks scattered around. People are forced to lock up to the cart return area.

    Stonetown has 4 racks. Always full.

    Daly City has 2 racks, way out of sight.

    For TJ’s, car is king and they know it.

  • Jim T

    Boston, on Boylston street downtown, has a TJs with no dedicated parking whatsoever. My major complaint about that TJs was always the incredible lines waiting for the cash register. This is 5+ years ago in Boston.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    The TJs on Masonic is a parking disaster because few people live within walking distance, and it’s a _very_ pedestrian-hostile area. Compare and contrast the Whole Foods on Franklin, which has parking but isn’t a disaster because lots of people can walk and bike to it.

  • I live a couple blocks from the proposed TJs location in the Castro. I can already bike (or drive) to the SOMA or Masonic locations, which are still pretty much spitting distance from here. So from where I’m sitting, it would make a lot of sense to create a Castro location that’s transit-dependent, and rely on people driving to the 2 other nearby locations if they’re fixated on buying a bunch.
    Over the past couple years, I’ve slowly been weaning myself from the notion of needing to buy a bunch of food all at once and schlep it home in a car. Everywhere I’ve lived in SF (Western Addition, Inner Richmond, Noe Valley, Civic Center, Castro) has been literally a couple blocks from a grocery store, so buying what I need to cook *today* has replaced buying for a week or two.
    I think big chains are used to measuring success in the size of each sale, and thus by increasing the amount of food people carry out of the store with them on a single shopping trip. And I think they need a new model; imagine getting visits 3 or 4 times a week just from people within walking/biking/transit distance from a TJ’s Castro location.

  • icarus12

    Didn’t Whole Foods just strike a deal with the Planning Dept to put in a store in the Castro/Upper Market Street area? The deal required WH to actively manage parking so that there weren’t back-ups on adjacent streets. I think TJs was hoping to get some sort of similar plan in place. Does anyone know more about that?

    I agree with Nick, however. TJs is phenomenally successful, and if its corporate leadership didn’t trust the profitability of the Castro location with current parking restrictions, then they are probably right not to risk it.

    Another type of grocery store that doesn’t rely on customers stocking up for the month or next two weeks on canned and frozen and dry food is probably a better match. Shoppers seeking fresh food, once or many times a week, could be a better target audience if the city isn’t going to accommodate supermarket parking.

    But TJs does not additional locations in the City. The South of Market store is a crowded mess and very unpleasant to shop there simply due to the crowded aisles, noise, parking deficiencies, etc. I avoid it.

  • icarus12

    Sorry, correction in that last paragraph: “TJs does need additional locations in the City.”

  • Sean H

    I love TJ’s, and Im actually glad they decided not to build. I disagree about the Haight Whole Foods, it has saturated the area with cars. Any hope of Stanyan turning into a complete street was set back immensely with that store. I don’t want to see the same with Noe/Market, there are too many people driving already. I think the main force of people using this store is the Upper Market, Diamond Heights people, and they tend to drive a lot more.

  • tony wong

    The TJ’s in Oakland’s Rockridge Dist. has a bunch of bike parking right in front. But I think it came from the development, and not a specific request from the store.

    A good example of bike advocates’ lack of focus on minoritites: the East Bay Bicycle Coalition’s move from Fruitvale to Berkeley Bike Station.

  • taomom

    I have mixed feelings about this Trader Joe’s not going in. I am a regular Trader Joe’s shopper. This morning I biked to the one in SOMA (three miles from my house) and did my weekly shopping for a family of four. This week was a light load–I bought only $114 worth that fit in four bags. (My record is $145 that fit more or less in five bags.)

    Would I love a Trader Joe’s at Noe and Market, half a mile away from my house? Yes! It would be fabulous and would save me half an hour of biking transit time each week.

    Would I love the Noe/Market street area to be backed up with cars? No! Noe is the street I take to get to the Wiggle. Right in front of the ramp entrance to that parking lot it’s only one lane in each direction. Just where is there room for a line of waiting cars??? Even lightly used, the parking lot makes things dicey enough as it is. And if traffic were to wrap around back to Market Street . . . I shudder to think about it.

    I’m very disappointed Trader Joe’s is stuck in a suburban, car-dependent model for San Francisco. It sounds like they know how to run urban stores in other cities, so there’s really no excuse. In this particular location, they should have made their parking lot free for the handicapped and for anyone buying more than $200 of merchandise. For the everyone else they should have charged $5. (Whole Foods in Noe Valley should do the same.) Just think how delighted their biking and walking customers would have been to save $5 every time they shopped!

  • Bob Feinbaum on KQED about the CS. Well said! Well said!

  • Alai

    The best mitigation for TJ on Masonic would probably be… to open a TJ in the Castro.

    I don’t know what caused TJ to kill this project, but it sounds to me like they were happy going in with the existing amount of parking, and only left after they were required to “agree to a wide range on requirements intended to ease its impact on vehicular traffic”.

    I am very much in favor making the city non-auto-centric. But killing non-auto-centric projects because they might cause traffic is lunacy. Let them! The fact that there is traffic out front will not hinder me from going there without a car. If the drivers break the law, blocking the box or double parking, then enforce the law. If people start lining up and blocking traffic, the people behind them will honk and that should give them the idea that it’s not acceptable.

    But what’s the end result of this? “No, you can’t open a store unless you have a giant parking lot”. Is that really the message we want to send?

  • ZA

    re: TJs – I can see it both ways, actually.

    The neighborhood demands are reasonable, given the churn Market, Noe, and 16th *already is* + the crazy congestion that has arrived with *every* TJs opening in SF (especially Masonic & Geary, with traffic controllers there and at 9th & Brannan) + the shuttle service Mollie Stone’s offers out of Lower Pac.

    However it seems to me that the proposed Castro location was aimed at two principle targets: the parking-laden Safeway just one MUNI subway stop away, and the really profitable residents of Corona, Buena Vista, Twin Peaks, and Ashbury Heights. These residents are more automotive because of their hills, and ‘free parking’ is the best business bet to compete with not just the nearby Safeway, but the Costco on Bryant, and even the other TJs including the one at Stonestown…to say nothing of points beyond connected by highway.

    I suppose we should count our blessings in fewer 400 mile truck trips from Monrovia to SF, right?

  • DanaPointer

    What Alai said, TJ was happy with the parking, city killed project by making car-centric special requirements that are not the responsibility of 1 particular business like TJ. if we want pedestrian city, we should tax/fine driving, eliminate free parking, and use property taxes for bike/ped infra