The front-page headline on today’s SF Examiner concerned an all too familiar story. An Inner Richmond neighborhood group wants to see a precedent-setting halt put to Starbucks‘s expansion plans in the neighborhood: Richmond coffee fight brews in S.F. – Starbucks is planning to open a 750-square-foot store at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Geary Boulevard.

Jesse Fink, who heads the Clement Street Merchants Association (and owner of the notable Toy Boat Dessert Cafe for the past 25 years), is asking for a landmark case from the the SF Board of Supervisors. Fat chance, really, and not just because SF isn’t Beijing’s Forbidden City.

For one, this neighborhood case isn’t about the integrity of the entire city. It’s not even about anything more than coffee. Although that corridor of Geary Blvd. is already a fast food chain/strip mall eyesore, you can’t stop local residents from frequenting their beloved Starbucks like lemmings to a cliff dive. While Toy Boat puts up pretty unique competition, many consumers will gravitate to Starbucks’ branded milkshakes over the real deal no matter what (and in Toy Boat’s case, I mean real milkshakes).

And as Carmel-by-the-Sea proves, any neighborhood where Starbucks is locked out can suffer a malaise of poor espresso standards without the motivation of adequate competition. Unfortunately for Jesse Fink and the Clement Street Merchants Association, you cannot outlaw bad taste.

More McCoffee for the locals!

UPDATE: Sept. 13, 2007
Surprise, surprise. SF supervisors said “enough is enough,” voting 9-1 in overturning the Planning Commission’s June approval: Supervisors deny Starbucks permit for new S.F. store. Jesse: I’m impressed.