According to yesterday’s Contra Costa Times, the Benecia City Council is still seeking limits on the number of chain stores allowed to invade this small town on the outskirts of the Bay Area: | 02/21/2007 | Benicia looks at limiting Starbucks. Most notably, the issue is Starbucks. This after a proposal to declare a moratorium on coffee-pitching chain stores in the town failed to pass.

Starbucks’ smarmy and cloying corporate do-gooderness act is about as annoying as they come in my book. But facts are facts — most local mom and pop cafés make awful espresso and need the competition to shape up their acts and step out of the 1970s. A town without a Starbucks can be a tragic thing.

Of course, customers also play a role in supporting the good places and avoiding the bad. Because the market forces of chain store drones are so disproportionate (popularity rarely equates with quality). In some way, local communities get the businesses they often deserve, and it’s the minority of people who care or can tell the difference who suffer the most.