A city oversight body delayed taking action this week on whether it should allow the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to open a new pharmacy space in the Castro or require it to seek additional review of its plans.
As the Bay Area Reporter‘s online Political Notes column reported Monday, the Los Angeles-based agency wants to combine its two San Francisco pharmacies into one location at 518 Castro Street.
The agency operates a pharmacy and HIV testing site at 100 Church Street, adjacent to its Out of the Closet thrift store, which it wants to vacate due to its landlord, Maitri Hospice, seeking increased rent for the space. The matter landed in court last year after AHF stopped paying its rent amid the lease renewal dispute.
AHF also owns the pharmacy at 4071 18th Street, which was formerly known as a MOMS Pharmacy. AHF acquired the HIV/AIDS specialty pharmacy chain in 2012, which it re-branded last year, and now wants to also vacate that location.
City planners initially granted the nonprofit its permits without public review but then changed course and informed AHF it had to seek a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission to proceed. AHF appealed that decision to the Board of Appeals, which ended up voting in March that because the agency operates 28 pharmacies it falls under San Francisco’s formula retail rules and would need to seek approval to open the Castro space.
AHF then told planners it was changing the name of the pharmacy, prompting Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez to ask the appeals board to grant the permits because the chain store restrictions no longer applied.
That prompted Castro neighborhood groups, upset with the lack of a public process for the project before the planning commission, to file their own appeal. Local AIDS agencies, which have fought with AHF over multiple HIV policy and funding issues, joined in to voice their own opposition to the AHF’s plans.
After addressing the issue for a second time last night (Wednesday, June 11) the Board of Appeals postponed taking a vote on the matter. It asked AHF officials to return at a later meeting with more proof for why their Castro Pharmacy should not be considered formula retail.
The appeals board is expected to return to the issue at its August 20 meeting.