San Francisco Formula Retail Analysis
Client: City and County of San Francisco Planning Department
Location: San Francisco, CA
Strategic Economics was hired by the City and County of San Francisco to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of San Francisco’s formula retail establishments and controls, which were originally enacted in 2004 and subsequently expanded in 2007. San Francisco’s formula retail controls apply to retail uses commonly referred to as “chain stores,” and were intended to “protect San Francisco’s vibrant small business sector.”
For this study Strategic Economics identified and mapped all of the existing formula and independent retail establishments in the city, and conducted extensive research into topics such as the employment and real estate impacts associated with formula retail. The study included an evaluation of potential impacts of changing the definition of formula retail as proposed by several ordinances considered by the Board of Supervisors. Strategic Economics also researched the role that formula retail establishments and formula retail controls play in shaping different neighborhood commercial districts throughout the city. At key points throughout the study, Strategic Economics presented results to focus groups of stakeholders, and augmented and revised the analysis to reflect feedback from focus group participants, the Planning Commission, and city staff.
The study provided a comprehensive, data-driven profile of San Francisco’s existing formula retail establishments and addressed specific economic and land use concerns raised by community members and policymakers about the prevalence of formula retail in the city and the impacts of existing policies regulating formula retail. The analysis and resulting reports informed city staff’s policy recommendations to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, which passed the Formula Retail and Large-Scale Retail Controls Ordinance in 2014.