August 8, 2012

First Republic Bank Bails On 24th St

In mid-July we heard from Leslie Crawford that she was appealing the Planning Commission's Conditional Use permit for First Republic Bank approved on June 14th. The Board of Supervisors was scheduled to hear the appeal this past Tuesday, but things turned out differently (emphasis ours):
[Public Hearing - Conditional Use Appeal - 3901-24th Street]
Hearing of persons interested in or objecting to the decision of the Planning Commission's by its Motion No. 18648 dated June 14, 2012, approving a Conditional Use Authorization identified as Planning Case No. 2011.1372C, under Planning Code Sections 728.49 and 790.110 to convert a vacant ground floor commercial space into a financial service (d.b.a. First Republic Bank) within the 24th Street - Noe Valley Neighborhood Commercial District and a 40-X Height and Bulk District and adopting findings under the California Environmental Quality Act on property located at 3901-24th Street, Assessor’s Block No. 6508, Lot No. 001. (District 8) (Appellant: Leslie Crawford and subscribed by Supervisors Wiener, Olague, Avalos, Mar, and Chiu) (Filed July 12, 2012) (Clerk of the Board)
The President indicated receipt of a letter from the Project Sponsor, dated July 30, 2012, withdrawing their application for conditional use. The President inquired as to whether any member of the public wished to address the Board. There were no speakers. The President declared the public hearing closed.
So we asked Leslie for clarification and this is what we heard back (again, emphasis ours):
Yes, First Republic withdrew their application for conditional use. They decided (from my understanding) that there was a good chance they wouldn't win the appeal and if they lost, they couldn't look for a Noe Valley space for a year. So they are (again my understanding) looking for something off the 24th Street corridor.
[NVSF: This Week At The Planning Commission: First Republic Bank Redux ]
[SFBOS: July 31, 2012 Minutes]


Anonymous said...

Way to go, citizen Leslie!

I have no problem with the proverbial "banks, title companies, and nail salons" taking up space in Noe Valley but I don't see why we need to be bending over backwards, waiving planning codes to make it easier for them.

The planning codes are there for a reason: to keep the commercial streetfront vibrant and successful.

Hopefully now that it's clear the banks don't get to plan by special rules, the market-rate rent for that space goes down, so that it becomes a viable space for a suitable commercial business and doesn't stay vacant.

Cheers, Leslie. And thank you to Scott Wiener and the supervisors who supported her.

Anonymous said...

Go Leslie!!! THANK YOU!

I have nothing against First Republic; I hear they're a great bank. But anonymous 1:29 says it best -- they don't belong on the main corridor. 24th Street should be a place where we want to shop and congregate -- and just as importantly, where people from other neighborhoods want to shop and congregate. It should reflect the creative, diverse and vibrant community that is Noe Valley. Why do we need 10 realtors on 24th St.? We can easily go to banks, title companies, realtors and doctors on the side streets. It's not as though they don't serve a purpose; it's that they are changing the character of our main shopping district and consequently our neighborhood. From my perspective, those institutions are making our main shopping area look DULL DULL DULL. And no, I don't want to see empty store fronts. But good businesses attract other good businesses. Noe is a financially sound neighborhood. The economy is on the upturn. Give them a chance, and they will come.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Leslie & Scott Wiener!!

I wish we all had as much courage as you to go to the planning meetings & make our feelings heard instead of just complaining in the comments section of this blog after it happens.

[yes, the irony of myself being anonymous is not lost on me]

Omar said...

It did look like a tight fit for a bank. I'd love to see Leonidas make a return! (or something like it)

Anonymous said...


jeff said...

Really? As far as banks go, First Republic is amazing. What a loss for us. And that location and the size of the space would have been a perfect fit for our neighborhood. Instead we're stuck with BofA and Wells Fargo for our local banking. Ugh. Are the opponents open to revisiting this? Or are they just opposed to any new bank coming in?

Anonymous said...

We do not need any more banks or any more realtors on 24th Street. thanks Leslie and Scott!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I hope that corner remains vacant for an entire year. Pretty disgusting how the Nimbys want to control everyone and everything we do.

Shame on you.

murphstahoe said...

I read the agenda, Wiener was on the top of the motion to disapprove but this was after First Republic pulled out. Was Scott officially opposing the Conditional Use? Just curious...

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that First Republic will still open a branch in Noe, just not on 24th Street. Did I misunderstand? Assuming that my information is correct, isn't that the best of both worlds? We get to have a great local bank in the neighborhood, and 24th St. will have one less financial institution. To those who are disappointed: Will you not use the bank because it's a block away?

And to the person who hopes that that corner location remains empty for a year: I hope exactly the opposite. My wish is that Noe will soon gain a small business that will benefit the community, provide products we can use, attract folks from other neighborhoods, and add character to 24th Street.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Leslie! We do not need another bank, or title company, or doctor/dentist office in ground-floor retail spaces on the main drag of 24th Street.

Anonymous said...

Has anybody been here long enough to see how many stores have been through there? That's a lot of disappointed dreams for the mom and pop store. You want something to succeed there? You need something with some capital and that could mean a bank.

I wanted FRB. Great bank.

Carol said...

My memory of 20 years on the street, that location was
a coin op cleaners,
a really nice cooking store,
a cooking store that served coffee
a women's dress store
a chain juice bar
an olive oil store (Stone olive)
a chocolate store (Belgano)

Anonymous said...

Boo! Are people seriously cheering that we get to keep another empty store front on 24th street for longer? FRB is a relatively small, regional bank that is headquartered in San Francisco. So much for supporting local businesses.

Anonymous said...

Boo. I often drive to other neighborhoods to visit a First Republic branch, and I was excited about this. The market has shown that this small location doesn't work well for several types of retail: why not a bank, especially one that's local and community-minded? Perhaps the rent is prohibitive for retail. I hope FRB isn't daunted by Noe Valley's NIMBYism and perseveres in finding a space.

Anonymous said...

This is very disappointing. First Republic is a local business and should have been supported by the community.

Anonymous said...

That space has been vacant for a long time for a reason - the landlord wants a lot in rent and most small businesses can't afford that amount.

Who is going to help the dreamer who ignores the math, opens up a store you approve of, and goes broke & out of business in 1-2 years? We won't see you raising money to pay their rent/mortgage, put food on their table, etc. You'll just complain that someone else should come in there and do the same thing again. Your selfishness & self-absorption is stunning.

Why doesn't Wiener do something useful like use eminent domain to take over the Real Foods store?

Anonymous said...

Shame on you Leslie. Noe Valley needs vibrancy, not another "do it my way" who think she represents the 32,000 residents of Noe Valley. Please consult with the 32,000 other residents before protesting again. Noe Valley does not need more empty store fronts. Have you noticed the others on the same block??

Anonymous said...

I take exception to the comment that places "shame" on Leslie. She is a tireless community leader who works hard to maintain the viability and vibrancy of Noe. We have her to thank, among others, for our Farmers' Market.

I happen to agree with Leslie that financial, as well as a couple of other types of businesses, have overtaken 24th St. And I also agree that First Republic is a good, small, local and community-minded bank that could benefit Noe. I wonder if those residents who are so upset are clear that First Republic is still looking for a place in Noe -- just not on 24th St. Is there anyone who is not going to bank there because they are a half-block off 24th St.?

And to the person who thinks Leslie does not represent the 32,000 residents of our neighborhood, I would say that he or she might consider going to the meetings and voicing his or her own concerns, rather than attack in print a resident who has done so much for Noe Valley.