Activists score big victory as Jack Spade gives up on the Mission

Jack Spade was trying to open in the spot that housed the beloved Adobe Book Store until earlier this year.

Score one for people power. Anti-gentrification activists in the Mission scored a major victory last night in their months-long battle to keep Jack Spade, an upscale men’s clothing chain, from opening a store on 16th Street — first by winning over the Board of Appeals, then by convincing the company to just give up.

So Jack Spade won’t be opening in the site of the old Adobe Book Store location near Valencia Street, an outcome engineered by the grassroots activism of the Stop Jack Spade Coalition, Valencia Corridor Merchants Association, and progressive politicians who supported the cause.

At issue at last night’s packed hearing was an appeal of the Planning Department’s ruling that Jack Spade didn’t fall under formula retail rules because it had one short of the 11 stores needed to meet the definition, even though it’s an expanding part of 5th and Pacific Co. and a brother brand to Kate Spade, which has dozens of stores around the country.

Activists considered it a long shot given the supermajority needed to overrule the decision and force a conditional use permit hearing before the store could open, particularly after falling short with the board in August. But this time, the activists won, with the board voting 4-1 to set a full rehearing for Dec. 11.

As representatives of the corporation left the hearing, they told a few activists and business owners that they “were done.” And when the Guardian reached 5th and Pacific CEO Bill McComb by email today, he 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!" McComb wrote to us.

It was a thrilling surprise for the activists that have been organizing against the project for months, and it was reminiscent of the successful 2009 effort to stop American Apparel from opening up shop on Valencia, involving some of the same activists and organizing tactics.

"We're very pleased about last night," said Andy Blue, an activist working with local merchants. "We saw a significant shift in momentum and a tremendous community showing. It was clearly a victory for the neighborhood."

It was a big turnaround from just a few weeks ago, when it looked like Jack Spade had won, and a sign of the rising importance of gentrification issues to San Franciscans who face rising residential and commercial rents fueled by the latest dot-com boom and Mayor Ed Lee’s corporate welfare policies.

"Six months ago, a lot of people in San Francisco felt powerless with the rapid displacement of residents," said Blue. "It was like, 'What can we do, you know?'"
But then, as Blue said, "the resistance started boiling up."

The local merchants decided to appeal the Planning Department decision that would have allowed Jack Spade to simply open its doors with no public hearing. "So many people who were being affected by it started sharing their stories, and things started happening. People had had enough," said Blue. "The San Francisco that we love is this diverse, unique place and we were watching  it transform into something totally different."

Simply getting to yesterday’s hearing was a huge step for the activist population standing up against the retailer, Blue said. But after the rehearing request was granted, the local merchants still needed to prove that "manifest injustice" had taken place during Jack Spade's permit acquisition process if the merchants wanted the actual rehearing. 

This presented a problem to the VCMA and others. To prove "manifest injustice" had taken place during the permit application process, the merchants needed to prove that Jack Spade not only applied for their permits under a dubious guise, but that they were well aware of just how dubious it was. To be manifestly unjust, the unfairness must be "direct, obvious and observable," a list that isn't always easy to satisfy. 

While the two sides can't seem to come to a consensus on how much the rent will actually increase in the surrounding area due to Jack Spade's arrival, this controversy arose at a time when neighborhoods throughout the city have been rising up against gentrification.

And this may not be the last time that this company is in the crosshairs of that concern. Asked whether its decision applies to the whole city or just this one location, McComb told us, “Just that spot. We have many brand fans in SF.” 


You can tell how badly the progressive movement is doing when one store deciding to locate elsewhere is a major revolutionary victory.

Think I might eat a $50 dinner tonight in the Mission with all my affluent white friends, and laugh at the poor hispanic people.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

For real?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:21 am


Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

I doubt that many capitalists are quaking with fear.

You have delusions of adequacy.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

The biggest one was taking a local California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) so called 'reform' ordinance (which would have gutted our local CEQA protections against bad development projects) and flipping it on its head to have it become a major rewrite of local CEQA protections that greatly enhances empowerment of the public to challenge such bad projects.

This is a sweeping and -actual- reform that sets the stage for -many- more victories like the Jack Spade rejection. ;)

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by barrier on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:07 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:53 am

It is one of the most obscure, wonky issues imaginable. That has nothing to do with the fact that the new law in fact impacts developers dramatically.

So if those developers are not paying attention, good.

That will make it all the easier to nail their asses when they try to break the law, which they are not paying attention to...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:00 am

Worry about why your political views are such a tiny minority.

The real world just passes you by.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:18 am
Posted by anon on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:25 am

Can you say 8 Washington, fucksnack?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

or two projects. Meanwhile, as they are not looking, massive condo developments are going up on Market Street and SOMA, including a tisbling to the stunning One Rincom Center.

Throwing a few crumbs at the activists makes them smug, glib and ineffective.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:24 am

The Mission NIMBYs are especially distracted by fighting off apparel companies: American Apparel a few years ago, and now Jack Spade.

Meanwhile a 100+ unit market rate condo development is being built on Mission and 22nd.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:10 am

15 years now. a lot of it is infill development, or conversion of abandoned industrial space, or new build on larger sites where nobody else was interested.

Just look at the area between SVN and Bryant, 16th and 24th. What were cheap bodega's are now upscale restaurants. When the realtors come up with a new name for a neighborhood, you know it's been gentrified, and they have - Mission Creek, named after the old creek that used to run along Harrison.

The activists know they have lost, but love to crow about the odd symbolic victory.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:25 am

you circle jerking trolls are willfully ignorant of the fact that San Franciscans don't oppose ALL development, just the out of control bullshit bullshit that attempts to gut city laws and destroy our community.
There is clearly a growing dissatisfaction with political leaders that spend all their time fellating developers and ignoring the living conditions of the general public as evidenced by the widespread opposition to 8 Washington, the community opposition to Jack Spade in the Mission, the rallies to support the elderly Chinese couple being evicted near Polk Street and the Mayor's abrupt reversal on the eviction of 300 people from their Market Street homes.
I'll leave you to pick up the shattered pieces of your tiny brains and resume your bile bathing.

Posted by anon on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

that they can afford to totally ignore people like you.

Meanwhile there are dozens of new condo blocks going up all over the city. Yes, you've been distracted by the celebrity building and meanwhile, behind your back, thousands of sparkling new market-rate condo's are changing the city's demographic right under your nose.

A few more years of this and your mob will never win any kind of election. Your best hope is a economic collapse and then you will finally have your wish - we will turn into Detroit. What an ambition.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

real transition happening in SF - huge demographic changes as thousands of new market-rate condo's change the electoral mix in SF.

I think Tim understood that. Steven? Not a chance - he's just all about the envy game.

The folks buying 8-Wash probably would never even vote there. Those thousands of people in the two Rincom towers? Oh you betcha.

Posted by anon on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

Simon Snellgrove is blowing a fortune on ballot measures, lobbying and public relations to distract the public from unrelated developments across town that respect height limits and zoning laws? I thought he wanted to build condos and make a profit.
You trolls really know how how to think outside the box.
Wayyy outside the box.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

Of course the 8Wash developer wants to make a buck, and he will one way or the other.

But some of us are playing a longer game, wanting to change the SF demographic from one that worships failure to one that worships success. And from that perspective, I do see 8Wash as a trojan horse.

Sometimes you lose a battle and yet win the war. And sometimes you win the war precisely because you lose a strategically chosen battle.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

You're like a retarded kitten, drooling over your ball of twine while declaring yourself to have some active role in this "battle".
How exciting for you!
Come on Billy! Let's put on our SPACE helmets and command the rocket ship!
Too funny.

Captain looks sternly at the others:
"But some of us are playing a longer game " he says gravely, as his imaginary gullible audience nods respectfully.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

development in SF, then that's fine with me, because I agree.

Posted by Guesty on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

All these hipster "activists" seem to have a bad case of myopia.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

You know who else has a bad case of myopia?
Yo mama's ass when you fell out of it.
Look how positively upset you are. It's delightful.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

wow. Yo Mamma insults. No wonder you guys "won."

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

wow. No sense of humor. No wonder you trolls lost.
Oh, hey- you've got a little something there on the corner of your lip. I think it might be left from when Warby Parker open's up in your mouth.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

I just wanted to say thank you to all the idiot press out there that smeared the Jack Spade brand by writing about the JACK OFF 16th STREET event. It totally worked. They quit because they don't want their brand tarnished. Yea, it was a cheap shot. But I'm kinda made out of cheap shots.

For you, so you can have something to complain about.

MMMWWWAH!!!!!! chicken john

Posted by chicken john on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

I'd never heard of Jack Spade before all this. Now, the only thing I and many other people know about them, is that a lot of folks didn't want them in their neighborhood. Not good for a mid-sized chain trying to build its brand identity.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:42 am

But now I think I'd like to sohp there just to spite the NIMBY's and killjoys.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:52 am

because what you like to do most is talk bullshit in comments sections.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

Hate to bust your bubble, Chicken, but Jack Spade made the decision to pull out last night, as we reported, before you announced your stunt. That was one reason why I didn't take your bait. One of a few reasons, actually, although I always appreciate your initiative and creativity

Posted by Steven T. Jones on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 8:00 am

What a great idea! We should do this to more gentrifiers who are responsible for ruining the character of the neighborhood. I know! Let's all drink a bunch of coffee and have a piss in at Ritual Coffee. That'll show those yuppies!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

in the street. Those homeless folks have to go somewhere. Isn't that all part of the charm and appeal there?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

We have those?

You mean that duplicitous sellout Campos or that spineless liberal Avalos?


Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

This is why SF will always be a step below LA and NYC...priorities are out of wack. If anyone is to "blame" here it's the landlord, not the tenant who is merely filling a space that was once occupied by a business that can no longer afford it.

Posted by Uh huh on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

What's really sad to me is no one on this comment thread has once mentioned Adobe Books, the previous business at this location. And that's how I know none of you have any idea of what you're talking about. Please, get out of this city.

Posted by aldr on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

Sadly book stores are going away thats the way of the real world. Just wishing it could stay doesn't make the magic happen, most people understand this and move on.

Over the last 23 years I have hundreds of dollars of books from the place by the way, I bought a fair amount in the last weeks, by the way.

It's now down on 24th, I went down there a month or so ago, it's lacking in the key element of actual books, looks like it is trying to be some neo-hippie performance place.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

"membership at the American Booksellers Association, a non-profit that promotes the interests of independent book retailers, and found that its numbers had gone up every year for the past four years, from 1,401 in 2009 to 1,567 in 2012 (pdf). Another 65 companies joined the association this year, bringing the total up to 1,632. The actual number of bookstores is even greater. "

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

that is practically impossible to believe

there are book stores closing right and left all around us

my guess is that as small book stores struggle, more of the remaining stores which have never joined the association are now joining in hopes of gaining strength and protection from membership

this could explain increasing association enrollments as the numbers of bookstores decline

Posted by racer x on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

It's true anyway and may be traced in part to backlash against chains.
Well fitting info, considering the topic at hand.

"One factor for the comeback of independent bookstores is the public’s increased interest in locally-owned stores, said Dan Cullen, a spokesman for the ABA.

“Nationwide, there’s been a ‘shop local’ movement recently,” Cullen said. “It’s become apparent that many, many more consumers are choosing to shop in local businesses of all kinds, not just bookstores. They recognize the influence their shopping dollars have in those stores, and in the local communities.”"

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:10 am

decline because most people would rather buy things like books online, or read books digitally.

SF neighborhoods that used to have several local booksotres now typically have one or none.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:14 am

And don't seem able to comprehend the facts presented above.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

if so, it must be a very new phenomenon

Posted by racer x on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

It's true anyway and may be traced in part to backlash against chains.
Well fitting info, considering the topic at hand.

"One factor for the comeback of independent bookstores is the public’s increased interest in locally-owned stores, said Dan Cullen, a spokesman for the ABA.

“Nationwide, there’s been a ‘shop local’ movement recently,” Cullen said. “It’s become apparent that many, many more consumers are choosing to shop in local businesses of all kinds, not just bookstores. They recognize the influence their shopping dollars have in those stores, and in the local communities.”"

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:11 am

Not just small local ones either - the venerable Staceys went a few years ago.

There's this thing called Amazon.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:56 am

That thing called Amazon is, ironically enough, helping independent bookstores survive.
Read the articles linked above or keep talking bullshit.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:42 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

The point is, Amazon is not killing independent bookstores.
ABA membership now stands at 1632 members, meaning that Amazon has killed a negative 70 indie bookstores in the past 9 months. This includes booksellers like Copperfield’s Books, an independent chain with six stores in Northern California. Co-owner Paul Jaffe plans to open a 7th store later this year.
And he’s not the only one. “For us who are in the trenches, it’s funny reading about how we’re disappearing when we’re really growing,” said John Evans, co-owner of Diesel, a chain of four bookstores in Calif.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

Not sure who's right, because I see the same things as racer x sees. But then sometimes you don't see the larger trend when looking at the microcosm. In any case, I try to do my part. I like to *shop* at the big corporate chains -they have a nice selection to browse, and nice cushy chairs to sit on while I read the books that I'll never buy from them. Because when I decide on something to buy, I go back to a local bookstore and get it from them. Sometimes they don't have it on the shelves, but that's Ok, they can always order what I want.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:27 am

sit in a comfortable chair in a store where you spend no money?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:41 am

Adobe Books was there & intending to stay when the Claiborne people offered the landlord over 3 times Adobe's rent. Adobe was actively driven out by Jack Spade's actions.

How do I know this? I was a customer & talked to the owner. I was greatly saddened by the loss of this wonderful, unique bookstore.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

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