Palo Alto May Limit Chain Stores on California Avenue

The Palo Alto City Council will discuss a new law Monday night that could limit new chain stores from opening up on California Avenue.

According to Palo Alto Online, the council is concerned that with rent increases and new construction, small business are getting priced out of real estate on the newly-renovated Palo Alto street.

The law being considered will not place a ban on chain stores, but will instead require larger businesses to apply for permits before setting up shop. Chains that have already taken up residence on California Avenue, like Starbucks, FedEx and Pure Barre. will not be affected.

All this comes in response to community survey results indicating residents want more shops, restaurants and small businesses on California, saying there are too many offices, chain stores and salons.

The council is already taking steps in this general direction: Last week, they approved a temporary ordinance to prevent ground-floor retail space from being converted to offices.

According to a report conducted by the Department of Planning and Community Environment, residents and business owners “cherish its uniqueness and are proud that it is distinguished from other commercial centers in the community,” but they’re afraid chain stores are causing California Avenue to lose its charm.

This isn’t the first instance of this type of law in the Bay Area: San Francisco and Los Gatos already have similar measures in place.

If the Palo Alto City Council decides to move forward with the law, it likely would not be implemented until later this fall.

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