SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation is challenging San Francisco over the city’s limits on chain stores.
The organization has over 30 pharmacies across the country. AHF has now filed a lawsuit against the city over its strict rules regarding chain stores, after trying to move to a new office and pharmacy in the Castro District on Castro Street.
“AHF’s civil rights infringement claims here arose when, at the behest of San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, the City rammed through, at lightning speed, an interim zoning law specifically targeting AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The clear and sole purpose of that action was to discourage the organization from relocating and opening a nonprofit safety net clinic and pharmacy in the Castro,” said Laura Boudreau, Chief of Operations for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Cities cannot enact spot-zoning laws to single out particular property owners. They must act neutrally, even-handedly, and not for a discriminatory purpose. We believe the City’s actions constitute a gross abuse of government power. As such, AHF has filed this lawsuit against Supervisor Wiener, the City and County and the entire Board of Supervisors for violation of AHF’s constitutional rights to equal protection, due process of law, and free speech.”
Last month, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved a proposal that modified the definition of a chain store, from businesses and organizations that have 11 locations nationwide to those with 19 international locations. Businesses that meet those standards and are looking to open a site in San Francisco must submit to an intense permitting process, including going through a public hearing.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation tried to work around the rules by changing its name, but San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener got legislation approved to close that loophole. “The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is trying to game our planning code so that they don’t have to follow the same rules that everyone else has to,” he said.
But the lawsuit claims that the organization’s free speech, due process and equal protection rights are being violated. City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said that’s just not the case. “The idea that this legislative action that the board took somehow violated AHF’s federal civil rights is absurd,” Dorsey said.
The lawsuit names the city, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and Supervisor Wiener individually.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation has had its share of controversy among San Francisco’s LGBT community, but city officials said this is simply about everyone playing by the same rules.