City Councilmembers John Duran and Lauren Meister are proposing restrictions on the opening of chain stores in West Hollywood, a move opposed by the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
On the Council’s Monday agenda is a proposal to ask the city attorney to investigate ways such restrictions might be applied.
“Formula retailers, also known as “chain stores,” can create unwanted uniformity in retail options,” says the proposal from Duran and Meister. “Formula retailers often have standardized architecture, color schemes, decor and signage that can take away from the distinctive character of a neighborhood.
“Independent, locally-owned stores tend to be more engaged and connected to the community. Economic analyses also show that locally owned stores spend more within the local economy than formula retailers by using local vendors and keeping profits local.”
The proposal cites similar restrictions in San Francisco and Malibu. San Francisco’s restriction apply to any retail or service business that has 11 or more other locations, whether in San Francisco or elsewhere, that offer the same sort of merchandise, have a standardized facade or decor and color scheme, have standardized signage and a standardized trademark. A 7-Eleven convenience store would be an example of such a business. San Francisco bans such businesses outright in some neighborhoods. In others it requires that they obtain a special authorization from the planning commission after a public hearing.
The City of Malibu requires a conditional use permit for all new formula retail businesses in the city and for existing businesses that want to relocate to a new space or expand substantially.
Genevieve Morrill, president and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, expressed her opposition to the proposal.
Formula retail actually creates jobs and employs people in the community and infuses spending into the West Hollywood economy,” Morrill said in an email response to a question from WEHOville. “Further, these proposed limitations would either eliminate many of the kinds of businesses that our residents rely on for the goods and services they need forcing them to get in their cars and drive to other communities or, due to lack of the volume purchasing power of bigger businesses, would force our residents to pay higher prices at smaller, local businesses. This is not a win for anybody.
“Many of the businesses that are vital to our community are extremely popular among our residents- such as Target, McDonalds, Sprouts, Massage Envy, Best Buy, Bev Mo, American Apparel, 24 Hour Fitness, Soul Cycle, Equinox, Fresh Pressed Juicery, Shake Shack, 18/8 Men’s Salon, Daphne’s, Tender Greens, Trader Joes, House of Blues, Fresh Brothers and many of our other businesses many are fond of would not exist, not to mention almost every high end fashion brand in the Design District such as John Varvatos, Alberta Ferretti, Tommy Hilfiger, Balenciaga, to name only a handful. Have these businesses made West Hollywood lose its uniqueness? The answer is no. Each of the ‘corporate’ businesses has recognized the unique characteristics of our community and have developed a product specifically targeted to our community.”
The City Council will consider the formula retail restriction proposal at its meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica.
Actually, that McDonald’s is NOT in the West Hollywood city limits: http://maps.latimes.com/neighborhoods/neighborhood/west-hollywood/ And does anyone actually believe a Wal-Mart could come to West Hollywood? Those stores are gargantuan, and there’s no room, anywhere in this city (several existing buildings would need to be leveled). Also, most SoCal communities have fought against Wal-Mart proposals because of their anti-union stance, and how they treat their employees. This would never happen. All that being said, I don’t see the need for a ban on chain stores. I’ve lived in the area for almost 20 years, and I’m grateful for many businesses we’ve gained,… Read more »
while I am sure that Duran & Meister are well intended….this, I think, is a bad idea. What they would be saying is that if a chain retailer or restaurant wanted to sell product/food x, as a chain, they could not. But if an independent retailer/restaurant wanted to offer the exact same product, they could. This would actually be “theft by taking” by restricting to whom a commercial building owner could or could not rent to. Far better idea would be to allow chains to open in West Hollywood, but make them come before Planning Commission & their design review… Read more »
These stores are necessary but could use some guidance on their looks. A McDonald could look like this:
No Dan, I missed it because I never knew it was there. Thx for catching this. People usually refer to the Crescent Heights/Sunset McD’s as the WeHo one, since frankly it is the one most patronized by WeHo folks (far closer to a larger # of us).
Chris – The reason you may have missed the McDonald’s on La Brea is due to the overdevelopment (big buildings on either side) that dwarfs this business.
This is a joke, right?
This is absolutely ludicrous. West Hollywood is so expensive that small businesses are getting pushed out as is it. Who do you think the tenants will be at the Sunset/La Cienega development? You think small businesses can afford whatever they’ll be charging in rent there? Absolutely stupid idea. Just because a store is a “chain” doesn’t connote a bad thing in any way. We have plenty of small businesses doing just fine, and we need some of the more common brands in our daily lives.
Chris- There’s a McDonalds on La Brea just above SMB which is still West Hollywood.
Jim Chud – The only McDonald’s in the area is in LA (Crescent Heights/Sunset) and will soon be demolished. There are no or to my knowledge anyother drive in fast food chain establishments within WeHo.
“Formula Retailers”–that’s a new term for me. I remember doing some reading about the 1920s; even then “chain stores” were being denounced by a certain segment of the “commenting class”.
I’m with Manny and Flores on this one, there absolutely are smart and reasonable ways to support small community owned businesses and give them a fair shot by not allowing too many chainstores. Obviously existing stores will not be affected. If we do nothing and leave it up to “the marketplace” we will get Hooters, 99c Store and Walmart in WeHo. I would like my elected representatives to have the tools to selectively limit further influx of chain stores.
Manny, I don’t think we need to ban anything to keep a Walmart from coming in. After all, the City Council does have final say on new development and the people of this City would be up in arms should a Walmart be proposed for any place in our City. (I actually don’t think Walmart is looking at our fair City as possible location for a new store..do you? Not much of a threat there). I agree with Larry, Meister does come across as against/ban everything. I was afraid of this when she got elected. It’s a rare bird when… Read more »
Not sure why Duran is on board, but this is the kind of nonsense I warned about when people though Lauren Meister was the best thing that could ever happen to the City Council. We are smack dab in the middle of LA. Our rents are likely too high for many of these national companies, and other issues might stop them (for example, a McDonalds with all the drive through traffic that has).