Ahead of this evening's Board of Appeals meeting to re-hear Jack Spade's building permit application that is currently suspended (more on that meeting below), a team of Jack Spade representatives have been going door-to-door, allegedly pressuring businesses to sign the above petition supporting the business.
The petition claims Jack Spade will do a lot of incredible things—reduce homelessness, vandalism, and violence; they even imply the store's opening could help drop the notoriously high murder rate along 16th. However, the petition casts Jack Spade's hopeful location as a long-blighted empty storefront, neglecting to mention that Jack Spade had a 25-year-old vibrant community bookstore evicted to obtain the space.
One 16th Street businessman, who was visited by a salaried Mission District Jack Spade store manager and Mission Merchant's Association President Phil Lesser, who is also a paid consultant of Jack Spade, said when he refused to sign the petition, Lesser became “agitated” and demanded the business at least remain neutral.
Another business that is actively campaigning to stop Jack Spade had a much more jarring interaction:
I got a visit from Dan Lakhman [Director of Marketing and Creative for Jack Spade]. He along with the [Jack Spade's store manager] and [Phil Lesser], and said “you can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
Phil explained that he will turn out support for Jack Spade in droves at the hearing and that he's never lost a case. He then went on to list them, counting on his fingers.Dan went on to explain that they were going to pursue this, that they would win, and how the community felt about them was not a consideration.
Dan actually called Jack Spade a “small business.” Ugh. It was maddening.
(Jack Spade still refuses to talk to Uptown Almanac, so we couldn't get their side of this.)
These sort of tactics cast the results of Mission Local's survey of 16th Street business's opinions on the matters in a telling light. With so many businesses refusing to state their opinion, perhaps Jack Spade's goon squad is having an impact?
If you are interested in going to tonight's Board of Appeals meeting, it begins at 5pm in Room 416 in City Hall. Kyle Smeallie, one of the organizers of the campaign to stop Jack Spade, had this to say of the importance of tonight's hearing:
The hearing is important because Jack Spade has done everything in its power to avoid it. Simply put, Jack Spade doesn't want to hear from the community. By misrepresenting its corporate structure, Jack Spade convinced the City last year to not consider it formula retail, denying the public the right, granted by City regulations, to have a say in the approval process. The VCMA believes this was an error, and they're concerned about the precedent it will set: If Jack Spade is allowed to sidestep the rules, other chain stores will follow suit, gaming the system to effectively eliminate the public approval process. That's why the VCMA, in its appeal, is supported by organizations like Causa Justa :: Just Cause, PODER, and La Raza Community Resource Center, as well as Supervisors David Campos and John Avalos. They're less concerned about the business implications, but they all recognize the importance of making sure the surrounding community is heard when big business wants in. For those who agree, speaking out at the hearing on Wednesday is essential to making sure the appeal moves forward.