By Thomas K. Pendergast
Plans for the proposed CVS pharmacy at 19th Avenue and Ortega Street have once again been submitted to the SF Planning Department, after the initial pro- posal lacked support for approval and was withdrawn.
The project has met strong opposition from some neighbors and local merchants. The Planning Department’s Doug Vu confirmed that he had received the plans in March, but had not reviewed them, so
he would not comment on them further. “CVS has heard from the neighbor- hood and they went back to the drawing board and have really tried to appease the neighborhood concerns,” said Ronald
Greenspan, the building’s owner. Greenspan said that initially, CVS was requesting that they be allowed to stay open 24 hours a day, but now they are reducing those hours to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., plus the pharmacy will not be selling alcohol or tobacco as originally planned. He also noted that they have added a “minute clinic,” which would provide
basic medical services for locals.
“Many who are older do not drive,” Greenspan said. “People can go into these ‘minute clinics’ and there’s a nurse practi- tioner or physician’s assistant who will provide treatment for common illnesses and injuries and administer vaccinations, conduct physicals, flu shots, so … I think
it’s a big thing.”
He said CVS has also changed the
design of the building, with more glazing
and landscaping improvements.
A letter to Vu from attorney Andrew J.
Junius, who represents the project spon- sor, says the new plans would open up the building’s exterior facade along both 19th Avenue and Ortega Street to achieve a 60 percent transparency standard, adding more windows facing both streets and a mix of painted stucco, wood-pat- terned tile and aluminum and glass store- front elements.
“The proposed facility is still too big,” said Lawrence Lahl, a local resident who has been leading neighborhood resistance against the project.
Lahl says they are still not happy about trucks using the parking lot across the street because Ortega Street is too small, and delivery trucks trying to nego- tiate the driveway leading into the park- ing lot would lead to congestion.
Some local residents are also con- cerned that the ramp leading from the street up to the rooftop parking lot for customers is too narrow and will cause traffic to back up.
Greenspan, however, does not think the volume of customer automobile traf- fic will be enough to make that a real problem.
“I don’t think that really will be a con- cern,” he said. “It’s not a huge volume of people that are coming there one after the other, so I don’t think it’s going to be a queuing problem at all. … I’m just hope- ful everyone will now want to support this project.”
So, if Lahl and other neighbors do not want a CVS pharmacy to move into a building that has been sitting empty for years, what kind of development would they like to see on that property?
“We as a group have had these discus- sions as to what we think should be there and we’ve come to the conclusion that housing, in some form, is what’s most desperately needed in this City,” said Lahl. “When someone lives somewhere, you have some accountability. When you have a retail operation, when someone parks in your driveway and you can’t get in, that guy’s not coming back again. But somebody else parks in your driveway the next day, and the next day. You have no where to go.”
As of presstime the CVS proposal has not been calendared by the SF Planning Commission.