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.” 


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

We set a precedent against such predatory rent offers from big chains. Let's keep it up! :)

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

space? How, exactly? And what else do you object to? Restaurants? Bars?

Let's just shut down the entire local economy just so nothing every changes. How is that "progressive"? It's the exact opposite.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:46 am

There actually is a moratorium on new restaurants on Valencia to protect the small businesses that have been there for 10+ years. These are solid businsses that pay their rents and turned the neighborhood from a wasteland of boarded up storefronts into a community. They moved into Valencia when places like Jack Spade wouldn't dare consider it. Don't those businesses deserve to stay in business? Don't they deserve respect from landlords who once couldn't find a business to move into their commercial space? If only progress matters, than Valencia would become a ghetto of restaurants and bars frequented only by the wealthy, because bars and restaurants make a far bigger profit margin than a bookstore, a record store, an independent movie theater, or a shoe repair shop. When you use the word progress to describe landlords who can charge triple the rent from what it was two years ago, that only describes progress for landlords - who represent a minority group in the community of people that live and work in the Mission. Not so for the longtime residents and businesses of the neighborhood. For most of us, risign rents is a big step backwards. We are not NIMBYS, we are not a vocal minority, we are a community. And communities thrive best on diversity.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:43 am

There are just some special interest groups trying to ram their agenda on the silent majority who just want a better choice for shopping and entertainment.

If there really was a community in the Mission, then all the crime, drug use, prostitution and general squalor that pervades the area would not be tolerated. You would be out there working with volunteer groups and charities and churches to help the poor and the needy.

But of course you would never do that. you'd much rather meddle ideologically and try and punish people for trying to bring more prosperity into the raea.

You are 100% a hypocrite. You are simply envious of those who succeed and want to score some cheap points against them.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:55 am

young white hipsters who in theory like to show their liberal credentials by claiming to care about the hispanics but, on a day to day basis, do not deal with them and wouldn't be seen dead in the nasty bodega's, preferring the sanitized burrito places where the menu's are in English and where it appears that the staff sometimes wash their hands.

Gentrification cannot come quickly enough and i have done my part, overseeing the conversion of five rental units to owner occupancy.

Posted by anon on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 11:33 am

Or maybe you just oversaw the conversion of five eighths of your brain to cottage cheese. Either way, you're clearly very important.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:07 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

and Frank Fung didn't buy her bullshit.
He asked, how much are you paying per month?
Ms. Xides wouldn't directly answer the question with a flat figure for their monthly rent.

Xides, fudging: "We're paying market rate for a retail space in that neighborhood."
Fung: "How much?"
Xides, fudging: "$3-4 per sq. ft."
Fung: "How many sq. ft.?"
Xides, fudging: "Around 2,000 sq. ft."

Fung: "How much do you intend to spend on renovations?"
Xides, not fudging: "More than a couple of hundred thousand dollars."

Fudge that. $200,000 on renovations.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:33 am

this might be the dumbest thing I've ever read

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 8:21 pm

Slow The Man Down

(To the tune, of course, of "Blow The Man Down")

As I took a walk on Valencia Street,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
Some big, gleaming chain stores my poor eyes did greet -
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

There was Jack Spade and Kate Spade and Starbucks as well,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
a big Cinnabon and a new Taco Bell,
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

But gone was the bookstore where I used to shop,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
And gone the small market run by Mom and Pop,
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

Our Lieutenant Governor Newsom was there,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
And Mayor Lee, grinning, the limelight to share,
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

They had just cut a ribbon to open the place,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
But something about it seemed slightly off base,
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

The customers there were all strangers to me,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
And the prices they showed were high as could be,
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

Where there were once apartments those chain stores replaced,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
There were pricey boutiques far too rich for my taste,
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

"Our very next site," Mayor Lee told the press,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
"will be at this spot - - - - " and he named my address!
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

Said Lee, "Money talks here, and Real Estate rules!"
Slow down, slow the Man down!
"And don't mind protestors, they're nothing but fools!"
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

But what can we do, with our City betrayed?
Slow down, slow the Man down!
And who sold our rights to the likes of Jack Spade?
Give us some time to slow the Man down!

So don't make it easy - - stand up and be heard,
Slow down, slow the Man down!
And don't let them sell you a gold-plated turd!
Give us some time to slow the Man down!!!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 13, 2013 @ 7:12 am

Thank God Valencia Street is over Jack Spade and the local merchants can get back to selling us $4 coffee, $200 bespoke jeans, $2300 fixies, $17-a- pound cheese, $125 Polaroid cameras (bought at a Modesto Goodwill for $2.50), $7 letterpress birthday cards, and $23 plates of free-range quail!! Phew...the gentrifiers are safe from being gentrified themselves. I can rest easy tonight.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

It is initiated by more affluent people moving to the Mission. that in turn leads to higher demand for $4 coffees, $15 burgers, tapas bars and all the rest.

In that context, exactly what type of high-end business replaces Adobe is just noise. The process remains intact, inevitable and ultimately desirable.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:44 am

So yet another cafe or bar. This is bullshit

Posted by Mazzy on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 9:33 pm
Posted by anon on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

that the next tenants of the space end up paying pretty close to what jack spade was willing to pay. this situation must have attracted the attention of other fancy clothes stores.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

Not likely another crap overpriced international formula chain dump will attempt that bullshit in the Mission any time soon.

How much did that fight cost Spade? How much of the $200,000 that Ms. Xides stated at Wednesday evening's Spade were spending on revovations has already been spent and now lost?
How much is it going to cost them to escape that lease, now that they've declared coitus interruptus?

I certainly don't care Jack shit but you bet those numbers will be looked at by any crap overpriced international formula chain dump that might've been considering a similar lame takeover move of a locally owned and operated store by bribing the landlord to hike the current tenant's rent in order to drive out the existing biz.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:23 am

And it will likely be some other kind of high-end establishment like a wine bar or tapas bar, and so on.

The gradual gentrification of the Mission continues, and the odd hiccup here and there is irrelevant. The war was lost 15 years ago, and winning the odd skirmish doesn't change that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:42 am

Impossible to find anything, weird selection, grumpy staff, hated it.

Progress never happens in a straight line but, gradually and inevitably, the old is replaced with the new. 'Twas ever so.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:00 am

for calling out Jack Spade's bullshit about not being part of a large chain and working hard to convince the government to apply the law properly.

how people can argue that this is undemocratic is mind-boggling.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:43 am

self-styled "activists" sought to overrule a much larger group of people whow anted this.

Activism is essentially undemocratic because it tries to achieve thru direct action what would never prevail at the ballot box.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:58 am

"...a much larger group of people whow anted this." Who?

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:56 am

retail options. You are trying to take away my shopping options based on nothing but pure ideological prejudice.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:41 am

No one is taking away your shopping options. You are free to shop anywhere you like, whenever you like. If you wanted to shop at Jack Spade you will probably be happy with many of your shopping choices just a very brief, 5-minute BART ride away from where Jack Spade was going to be.

Again, no one is taking away your "shopping options." But still, a lot of people don't think that "shopping options" are necessary the only think that makes a community a community. I'm not going to try to explain that because, it seems pretty self-evident to me. Thanks.

Posted by Andy Blue on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

You might feel justified because you appear to see success and prosperity as bad things. But I prefer a system where I can choose where to shop based on a full range of options rather than the ones that people like you think I ought to have.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

The people's right to choose where to shop shall not be infringed upon. The Shopping Amendment clearly states this.
It is a Constitutional Imperative I tell you!
The most important thing about you is how and where you shop.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

I am sure that feels alien to you. You just cannot trust those damn people to always do the right thing.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

That. Is. Awesome.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

for me is not defined by money.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

Whaddya mean with this heresy that commerce is not the highest form of human interaction? Good work, Andy!

This proves that average citizens volunteering to make our neighborhoods better can win where the professional advocates have been coopted to a standstill.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

Two? One? None?

How many have gone up during that time? Hundreds?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

Andy is an organizer, I am a policy freak, that is the difference.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 7:39 am
Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 12:52 pm
Posted by anon on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

Steve you should move to real-name commenting. SFBG has the worst Simmental section this side of YouTube.

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

host site can never know who someone is in real life. Even with registration, there is nothing that compels the use of a real name nor is there any way to prevent someone registering 100 different names and using all of them.

All a host site ever knows about posters is an email address and an IP address. And there are millions of both to choose from.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:37 am

I wanna see comment software that has a recommendation engine where I can see things that my friends like and have things that my network does not like hidden from me. If anyone wants to engage in intelligent conversation and not mindless gainsaying, they'll get approval or few negs from a network. But for the windbag jetsom of trollery, they just won't exist.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

Just look at the CraigsList forums to see that at work.

Posted by anon on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

Jack Spade already did its damage to the neighborhood -- prompting the displacement of venerable and beloved bookstore Adobe Books. Yes, they have moved to 24th. But 16th St. will never be the same thanks to the Jack Spade douches.

Posted by Mister Big on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:21 am

over SF for years now, and Adobe wasn't even a good bookstore.

And if spade hadn't inquired about that space some other more successful entity would have done and will again now.

The property owner is entitled to try and get the best rent possible, and Adobe was cheap.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 7:39 am

So...are we still jacking off there, or is that over?

Posted by Chromefields on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:32 am

You know it is actually ok to not want every street in your city to look like 'Any Town USA'. The smug comments about Capitalism, i'm guessing, are from the same twerps that moved into the city 3 months ago, taking the tech bus down the peninsula. These are also the same people that stare at their phones during a concerts. Get a life, enjoy individuality, and fight for it. If you don't like it, move to Burlingame.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:34 am

I'm sure that barely scratches the surface of your prejudices.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 10:21 am

You played the discrimination card. Way to cleverly show the libruls you can beat them at their own game!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

i'm prejudice against you.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

That was kinda my point.

Posted by Guesty on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

at being a smug turd.
That was kinda my point.

Posted by Guesty on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

Except in SF, where failure is the standard to emulate.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

Look it up and congratulations!

Posted by Guesty on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

He is informed about the financial markets, real estate and the law. And he strikes a delicate nuanced balance between liberal sensitivity and the kind of entrepreneurship that has made America great.

I think he adds an important dimension here and if, as seems the case, he ruffles some complacent feathers and rattles some rusty cages, then so be it.

Posted by anon on Oct. 11, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

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