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West Hollywood Considers Banning New Chain Stores

West Hollywood Trader Joe's (Photo by catfuzz via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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West Hollywood is considering placing a limit on the number of chain stores that can move into the neighborhood. WeHo City Councilmembers John Duran and Lauren Meister are proposing a limit on chain businesses, suggesting that the "standardized architecture, color schemes, decor and signage" of such stores diminish the unique character of a neighborhood, WEHOville reports. The proposal also claims that local shops boost the local economy, because they tend to also source their own products from nearby. For instance, a locally-owned restaurant might buy their ingredients from the shop down the block and serve California beer and wine, whereas a T.G.I. Friday's or what-have-you might not.

Duran and Meister point to similar rules that have been put in place in Malibu and San Francisco. In San Francisco, any chain that has 11 or more locations, plus has a standardized look and service, would either not be allowed, or would require permission from the planning department following a public hearing. In Malibu, chains require a conditional use permit to open, relocate or expand.

The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is opposed to this idea. Genevieve Morrill, the Chamber's president and CEO, told WEHOVille that chains create jobs, and that "these proposed limitations would either eliminate many of the kinds of businesses that our residents rely on for the goods and services they need, forcing them to get in their cars and drive to other communities—or, due to lack of the volume purchasing power of bigger businesses, would force our residents to pay higher prices at smaller, local businesses. This is not a win for anybody."

Morrill cited businesses like Equinox, Target, McDonalds, Trader Joes, Tender Greens and various high-end fashion retailers as examples of businesses the community values and would miss.

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The West Hollywood City Council will discuss the proposal at its meeting tonight. For those interested in attending, the meeting will be held at the City Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. at 6:30 p.m.