From DAVE SMITH
To the Editors:
The Peet’s Corporation has asked the Ukiah City Council not to ban it from our downtown (See UDJ Article Below). The choice could not be clearer. We have access to Peet’s fresh-brewed coffees at Schat’s Bakery downtown, owned by Zachery Schat and his family. Now the Peet’s Corporation, traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange, wants the right to move into our downtown.
There is only one difference between the two companies: who gets the profits. Each business will have a store, employees, pay sales tax, etc. But the Peet’s Corporation will take their profits and distribute them to shareholders all over the world… to who knows who, who knows where. Schat’s Bakery, a local neighborhood business owned and operated by the 5th generation family of Dutch bakers, will keep the profits here in our community to keep circulating and building our local economy.
I’ve heard rumors that our City Council is leaning towards allowing chains and franchises into our downtown because the “local merchants want it.” But, wait. This is a democracy. Who decides? Our small number of downtown merchants or our large number of citizens who live and work and vote and shop here?
Let your voice be heard.
Company asks not to be labeled as ‘formula fast-food’
By JUSTINE FREDERIKSEN
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2011
A representative of Peet’s Coffee & Tea wrote a letter to the Ukiah City Council recently to request that the company not be excluded from opening downtown as part of a “formula fast-food” ban.
“Our entire business is based on relationships — with the farmers who grow our coffees and teas; with our employees who serve our customers; and with the communities with which we do business,” wrote Carol Mazzetti, director of Real Estate for Peet’s, in a letter addressed to the council and City Manager Jane Chambers dated Feb. 7, 2011. “The phrase formula fast-food’ conjures up notions of an impersonal, corporate and cookie-cutter’ approach to doing business. We are a local business — our company headquarters are located in Emeryville — with local values and a commitment to our local communities.”
A call to Peet’s corporate office seeking comment on whether the company was interested in opening a location in Ukiah was not returned Wednesday.
Currently, the Downtown Zoning Code prepared by the Planning Commission and being considered for adoption by the council includes a ban on formula fast-food restaurants — establishments that have standardized menus and architecture, and serve meals that are “quickly made, of low nutritional value and inexpensive.”
The commission had previously considered having exemptions for coffeeshops, ice cream parlors, bakeries and hot dog stands — which would have allowed places like Peet’s, Coldstone Creamery or Dunkin’ Donuts to open — but eventually voted to remove all exemptions.
Strong opinions both for and against the exemptions and the ban itself have been expressed by local business owners and residents, and more people spoke Tuesday during a council workshop at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center to discuss the code.
“You are trying to do social engineering with land zoning,” said Jim Mayfield, owner of Rainbow Agricultural Services, referring to the stated intent of some on the commission to battle obesity and other health problems by reducing the amount of junk food available. “Let the people decide with their dollar and with their vote what they want; legislating morality is a slippery slope. We need to attract any dollar we can downtown, because right now, it’s pretty empty.”
Charlie Seltzer said he supported having the ban on fast-food chains for three reasons: “it would improve health, create a stronger economy and help protect Ukiah’s small-town character.
“People eat what’s available, and chains don’t create business, they siphon it from other places,” Seltzer said.
Lisa Mammina said she was in favor of any business “adding tax dollars” to the local economy, and that keeping businesses out of downtown encouraged sprawl.
Planning Commission Chair Judy Pruden said the ban focused on a “very small area,” and that the commission wanted Ukiah to “put our best foot forward,” especially on Perkins Street, which is most people’s introduction to the city.
“If you want a Dunkin’ Donuts on our gateway, so be it — that’s up to the council,” Pruden said.
Another workshop was being discussed for next month, but Planning Director Charley Stump said the council would be very busy with budget discussions, and he wasn’t sure if a workshop could be scheduled then.
Justine Frederiksen can be reached at email@example.com, or 468-3521.