SF community outraged over plan to close Western Addition Safeway: 'Moving all the Blacks out!'

J.R. Stone Image
Monday, January 8, 2024
SF community outraged over plan to close Western Addition Safeway
Community members of San Francisco's Western Addition say the closing of the only Safeway in the area will negatively impact communities of color.

SAN FRANCSICO (KGO) -- Last Thursday, we learned that the only Safeway grocery store in the Western Addition of San Francisco will close.

Community members and those with the NAACP are speaking out, saying if this plan goes through, this will negatively impact the city's Black community with longterm implications.

In less than two months, the Safeway grocery store on Webster Street will close, according to executives.

"You're gutting it. You're just gutting the neighborhood," said Theresa Frye who lives in Western Addition and shops at Safeway.

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Community members are outraged, saying seniors and handicapped individuals have been forgotten about. Those with Safeway say they have entered into an agreement to sell the 3.68 acres site to a real estate company for a mixed-use development project, which would include housing and commercial retail space.

"They need to really do things about taking things from the inner city that we need, and then developing housing. Housing for who? The homeless? You need to do better than that," said Norris Mays, who lives in the Western Addition.

"It is the destruction of a community!" said Dr. Amos Brown with the NAACP.

And those thoughts from Brown are echoed by those that we talked with in the Western Addition. They believe this will directly impact low-income Black and Asian communities.

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Last week, Mayor London Breed told our partners at the SF Standard, "This is a real and rare opportunity to add a significant amount of new homes in this part of our city, and even a new grocery store."

But plans for a new grocery store have not been solidified and community members we spoke with took target at the mayor.

"And for London to not even fight for the Black community to have this store stay here for the Blacks. It seems like they are just moving all the Blacks out!" said Lillie Briggs, who lives in the Western Addition.

J.R. STONE: "So you're blaming the mayor for this?" we asked.

LILLIE BRIGGS: "I blame London because I think London should have done more. She was raised in this area!"

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Supervisor Dean Preston's office says they reached out to Safeway and the developer to "explore the possibility of including a grocery store as part of any planned development at the site."

"They need to stop the car, slow things down, and permit this Black community to get aboard and include us," Brown said.

The closure of the Safeway store means that shoppers will have to travel more than a mile to another Safeway or Lucky Supermarket, or a little more than half a mile if and when a new Trader Joe's opens in Hayes Valley.

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We did reach out to San Francisco Mayor London Breed's office Sunday night to get her response to some of the criticism. We have not heard back from her office.

Safeway issued this statement:

"Safeway recently entered into an agreement to sell 3.68 acres of land at Webster Plaza in the Fillmore district of San Francisco to Align Real Estate who will pursue a mixed-use development project to include housing and commercial retail space. As part of the sale, the Webster Safeway store is expected to close on or around early March.

Safeway has proudly served the Fillmore district for 40 years. All associates at the Webster Safeway will be re-assigned to another store in the San Francisco area, and we remain committed to serving San Francisco at our remaining 15 locations.

The developer purchasing the land at Webster Plaza is excited about this opportunity. San Francisco has struggled with housing shortages and Safeway sees this as an opportunity to positively impact the community and be part of a solution to bring much needed additional housing to San Francisco."

Supervisor Dean Preston issued this statement:

"We are extremely concerned with the potential loss of this grocery store in the heart of the Fillmore, and especially the possibility of losing it as soon as March, which we view as unacceptable. We welcome housing development on this large surface-level parking lot, but this should not be an either/or situation.

We have reached out to Safeway and the developers to learn more about the plans, discuss the timeline, and explore the possibility of including a grocery store as part of any planned development at this site."

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