Parking and the gentrification of food

How catering to motorists makes groceries more expensive

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The 555 Fulton project will have 134 condos, a huge grocery store, and plenty of free parking.

STREET FIGHT Professor Don Shoup, an icon in San Francisco planning circles, is famous for illuminating that there is no such thing as free parking. In his voluminous book The High Cost of Free Parking, Shoup breaks-down the costs of building parking spaces and the land underneath.

Beyond that there's lighting, insurance, security, maintenance, ventilation, financing, contracting, and surveying costs. There's also the additional property tax on the parking, and piling onto that, the vast external costs to society with congestion and pollution from car trips generated by parking.

While all of this might seem obvious, the virtue in Shoup's work was to show how the costs of parking are regressive and passed onto communities, especially low income households and non-drivers. For example, a grocery store bundles parking into the price of food and this is disproportionately borne by non-drivers.

In a sense, free parking causes the gentrification of food.

In San Francisco, underground parking costs anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 per space to construct. In the proposed supermarket at 555 Fulton Street, the 77 spaces proposed underneath the store will cost anywhere from $6.1 million to $7.7 million to build.

That's millions that will be passed on to a grocery store tenant and ultimately to shoppers. And that's just to build, not operate, the parking. This adds more burden to the already tight pocketbooks in a gentrifying city like San Francisco.

Parking also complicates the issue of grocery stores and formula retail, making developers prefer a chain store because it can access the financing to build parking. So parking literally "drives-up" the rents for tenants seeking to lease the space. This makes it more difficult to find an affordable, local, non-chain grocer while also translating into higher food prices, since grocers transfer the cost of parking onto all shoppers regardless of how they got there and regardless of the shoppers' income.

All of this came to a head last week at the San Francisco Planning Commission hearing on 555 Fulton, a proposed mixed use development that might include a grocery store. The Commission voted 4-2 to lift a formula retail ban on this site, concluding that only a chain store is "economically viable." (Disclosure: I publicly advocated against that exemption as a member of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association).

This was not just a blow to the city's unique character in terms of guarding against chain stores. It undercuts sustainable and affordable urbanism and will lead to gentrified food. Here's a brief summary of what happened:

In the early 2000s, the old Christopher Dairy at 555 Fulton, between Laguna and Octavia, was identified as a good location for a supermarket as part of a larger mixed-use development. The site was folded into the Hayes Valley formula retail ban to encourage an independent, community-based supermarket with fresh produce, high quality food affordable to nearby residents, and jobs for locals.

In 2010, the Planning Commission approved the first iteration of this project, with 136 housing units above a non-chain grocery store. Neighbors were very excited to have a local supermarket to serve the whole community and the developer did not try to circumvent the chain store ban. The community and Planning Department were working together.

In late 2012, the site and its entitlements were sold to a new developer, Fulton Street Ventures. It immediately informed the community that it would seek to lift the ban. HVNA unanimously opposed lifting the ban and Planning Department staff supported HVNA's position. At that point, it seemed that the planners had read and understood Shoup.

Comments

Presumably much of that parking is for the residents who will be living there. And those condo purchasers will pay more for safe, secure, off-street parking, ensuring that the developer will recoup the extra cost of the parking without necessarily passing it onto commercial tenants.

And if the parking means that the food store gets higher volumes that would mean they can REDUCE their prices, not increase them, due to economies of scale.

The simple fact is that you cannot sell commercial or residential projects without the parking and, moreover, the city building code requires off-street parking for new development, to avoid the more demand for street parking and the inevitable increase in double parking.

It would be really helpful if you took a broader perspective on these topics, rather than the knee jerk "war on cars" that is usually confined to the hilariously biased SFStreetsBlog site.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

if we don't make a massive shift from personal automobiles to transit, bikes and walkable communities

such that we become an almost completely car independent global society within roughly three decades...

then our species is fucked

Posted by racer x on Oct. 15, 2013 @ 11:50 pm

and globally we probably have five times as many cars now than then.

Cars may change, e.g. electric, driverless, alternative fules - but they are not going away and we will all still be driving cars in 2113.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 5:07 am

As will you and maybe most of the world's humans in the coming climate change disaster.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 10:16 am

Personally I don't know how we made it through Y2K.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 10:27 am

Environmental degradation is real.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 10:44 am

The real point behind all the global warming scaremongering is to try and achieve a political end that the voters want no part of. It's inherently dishonest.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that I have a V8 SUV and I fly a lot. Oh no! I also hold shares in Exxon and Chevron, as well as some fracking companies. Oh no!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 10:57 am

this is simply a wall against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive 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 sonim on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 11:01 am
Posted by o on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

your self-absorbed selfish sociopathology so your investment and transportation choices are unsurprising.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 11:04 am

You are the outlier if you differ.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 11:08 am

you would rather be like "normal" americans, and be wrong, and destroy the Earth

than be an "outlier" and make a difference

looks like you have no guts

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 11:25 am

And that is that you are right and the majority are wrong.

How would you know if you are wrong?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 11:42 am

i was referring to your purely fictional concept of the "normal" american

since you are clearly a follower rather than a leader, and are afraid to go outside of what you consider to be "normal"

you live a gutless life

simple

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 11:52 am

You claim that a majority of Americans are worried about global warming AND that a majority drive cars, fly places and otherwise consume vast amounts of the fossil fuel that you claim causes global warming.

Which is it?

And if I am disagreeing with the 97%, then surely I am the one going against the crowd, not you? And so I am the one showing more courage?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

even while they wish to change that system into something better?

it must be comforting to live within such a simplistic little world view as yours

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

global warming and yet make no lifestyle changes to try and mitigate the situation.

Then again, maybe people think that other people should make all the sacrifices, while if they carry on consuming fossil fuels, well, that by itself makes only a tony difference.

Me? I don't believe there is a problem and I love fast cars and travel. So my beliefs and actions are in sync with each other.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

to reduce their climate impacts

your bullshit claims to the contrary don't contradict that reality

and as i note below

most people on this planet

are not in fact, behaving as stupidly as yourself

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

I'm not seeing much restraint.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

dipshit?

in fact the vast majority of the people on this planet have an incredibly low carbon footprint

perhaps the reason you believe otherwise is that you cannot see far past your own nose and into other countries besides your own

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

"in fact the vast majority of the people on this planet have an incredibly low carbon footprint"

And would happily increase their carbon footprint if they had more money without a hint of remorse.

Feeling guilty about one's carbon footprint is a First World Problem, Stuff White People Like, etc.

Posted by LOL Barrier! on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

china
is vastly
increasing
personal
wealth

but doing a much better job on its
emissions
per capita

relative
to that
increase
than the west

so
once again
you are
full of crap

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

China - a new coal plant a week.

Posted by LOL Barrier! on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

wrong again ass hole

china is cutting its rate of coal use

see

http://tinyurl.com/ChinaCoalMyth

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

whack it good!

Posted by ka on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

to replace the rose coloured ones

Posted by ac on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

I'm saving the environment by composting every day - until my trip to Maui next week.

Posted by Typical San Franciscan on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:17 pm
Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

but also a little closer to the cliff edge

Posted by wh on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:32 pm
Posted by a on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

which is perfectly normal in human beings

Posted by r on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

the majority of the people on this planet do not in fact take part in driving cars, flying on planes, and consuming vast amounts of fossil fuels

that too, is simply another fiction that you have created in your substandard mind

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

Places like China and India are getting obsessed with cars.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

here again is the paper debunking your chinese coal myth

china is cutting its rate of coal use

see

http://tinyurl.com/ChinaCoalMyth

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

There is plenty of pollution in the developing world, however.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

Don't be silly!

Chinese cities are ecological wonderlands!

Just visit one!

Posted by LOL Barrier! on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 6:21 pm
Posted by d on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

just give me my damned coke and big mac with special petroleum sauce

Posted by y on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

how to prove a negative

Posted by h on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

it's a little more tricky than whack-a-mole

Posted by e on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

shop at outlier outfitters, to feel unique

Posted by l on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:21 pm
Posted by o on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:20 pm
Posted by m on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

simple math

CO2 wins

Posted by a on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

What does Lilli do in late afternoons that gets him going like this?

Posted by LOL Barrier! on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

by the afternoon, he's off work and ready for a hard day's troll chasing.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

simply a statement of fact

personal automobiles are destroying the planet

we can either be stupid and claim that since there are more of them this year than last year we should just keep making them

or we could instead get our heads out of our asses and do something about it

(cue idiot climate crisis denial, and automobile-uber-alles statements)

Posted by racer x on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 10:47 am

alleged effects that people sometimes categorize as global warming, but may in fact be entirely natural.

I think the real truth here is that racer cannot afford to run a car and so doesn't want anyone else to either.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 10:58 am

simply a wall against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive 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 marmalade on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 11:15 am

About 97 percent of the climate scientists who publish their work in peer-reviewed journals disagree with you, Guest. All of them believe global warming is real and that it's being caused by a buildup of carbon in the atmosphere caused by humans like you and the choices you're making. You can believe current climate changes are natural, just as you can believe the earth is flat and at the center of our solar system, but you're simply wrong, based on scientific observation and analysis. It's that simple.

Posted by steven on Oct. 16, 2013 @ 11:38 am

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