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San Francisco Is Considering A Bill That Will Make It Illegal For Stores To Close

Source: CalMatters

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is deliberating a potential policy that would allow individuals to take legal action against grocery stores that shut down abruptly. This proposed ordinance was introduced by Supervisors Dean Preston and Aaron Peskin, and mandates that grocery stores must give the city six months’ notice before closing.

Genuine Efforts

In addition, Additionally, 

Source: Unsplash/Marques Thomas

The stores are obligated to make genuine attempts to ensure continued access to grocery stores in the area after they close, whether it is by finding an alternative store, assisting residents in forming a cooperative, or coming up with other solutions with the city for the local community. 

Notice Required 

If the grocery store chooses to shut down without giving the required notice, 

Source:Unsplash/Nathália Rosa

People who are negatively impacted by the closure could have the right to file legal action against the store for compensation. 

Ordinance Emphasizes

Despite these, the provisions, the ordinance stresses that store owners right to close their businesses, 

Source: Unsplash/Nathália Rosa

Within this there are also exceptions to the six-month notice rule, such as unforeseen circumstances like natural disasters.

City Authorities

Supervisor Preston has been advocating for this ordinance since January, emphasizing the recent situation with Safeway in Fillmore that had planned to close until city authorities inserted themselves to delay the closure.   

Source: Unsplash/Jack Cohen

The policy has been in existence for many years.


The board of supervisors passed a policy that was identical to this one In 1984, but it was vetoed by then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein. 

Source: Unsplash/Tim Mossholder

At the time, Feinstein described the policy as “an unnecessary intrusion of governmental regulatory authority.”


Preston has expressed that he his more at ease 

Source: Unsplash/Claudio Schwarz

with the involvement of this policy.

Executives Of Stores 

During the 1980s, 

Source: Unsplash/Claudio Schwarz

Executives from grocery stores argued that imposing more procedures on stores that are closing could deter them from opening to begin with. 

Input From The Community 

He told the San Francisco Chronicle in January,

Source: Unsplash/Erika Giraud

“It was a good idea then, and it’s an even better idea now,” “We need notice, we need transparency, community input, and a transition plan when major neighborhood grocery stores plan to shut their doors.”


The exceptions outlined in the ordinance seemed to provide grocery stores with enough flexibility to be able to comply with the law, even if they don’t adhere to the six-month notice prior to closing. 

Source: Unsplash/Atoms

It raises questions regarding the possibility of compensation individuals could receive by suing a closed store.

Thorough Regulation

While the repercussions of this policy are still unknown, 

Source: Unsplash/Markus Spiske

It gives insight on the level of thorough regulation that San Francisco politicians believe is necessary for their city.

Sources For Food 

Likewise, residents impacted by grocery stores that are closing could probably find alternative sources for food fairly quickly. 

Source: Unsplash/Martijn Baudoin

Competing grocery chains would independently make their own decisions on whether they want to take over failed stores or not.  

Store Owners 

One might be under the assumption that grocery store owners could keep their businesses open as long as they are continue to make a profit,

Source: Unsplash/Lucas Santos

And not close the doors without a justified reason. 

San Francisco 

Preston and Peskin question the capability of San Franciscans to organize themselves independently. 

Source: Unsplash/ Braden Collum

Their proposal is grounded in the belief that notable changes should involve a significant amount of time for public process, and be backed up with the threat of legal action. Ultimately to help avoid anyone making impulsive decisions. 


The stringent procedures and regulations at the onset make it challenging for businesses to launch

Source: Unsplash/Tim Mossholder

and create a more significant impact when they shut down.  

New ventures

This approach mirrors how San Francisco typically regulates new ventures, 

Source: Unsplash/Clay Banks

whether they are businesses, technologies, or residences. This is not a coincidence.

Multiple Approvals 


Source: Unsplash/Steve Adams

If initiating any activity requires multiple approvals and permits, numerous approvals and permits, is it not equally reasonable for the city to impose similar regulations on closures?

What do you think?

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Athena Hallet

Written by Athena Hallet

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