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Target in Marin City, Booting the Homeless and It's Not Natural

Author: Bill Meagher
June, 2016 Issue
Columnist

Bill Meagher
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Author: Bill Meagher
June, 2016 Issue

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While there are a number of ways for businesses to lose its following in Marin, one that's guaranteed would be to claim you're "all natural" when you aren't.


Can Marin support three Target stores? We’re going to find out.

The Gerrity Group, the Southern California firm that owns the Marin Gateway Shopping Center in Marin City, announced it’s inked a contract for Target to open a store by March 2017 in the old 48,500-square-foot Best Buy location. The electronics chain pulled out in 2014 and the building’s been as empty as Donald Trump’s heart ever since.

The store will be quite a bit smaller than either the San Rafael store on Shoreline Parkway off Highway 580 or the Novato store at the Vintage Oaks shopping center. The Novato location has been open for years in the same mall where Costco is the main anchor. The San Rafael store opened in 2013 after much controversy and hand wringing over the probable environmental impact and the inclusion of a grocery section that was said to doom all local grocers.

Those seers of the future turned out to be off as United, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are all still open, locked in mortal combat within a block of each other. Mi Pueblo Supermarket on Bellam Boulevard is still open, and a new market, Sprouts Farmer’s Market’s, opened in the meantime on Irwin Street.

It remains to be seen if Target will add shoppers or cannibalize its San Rafael store, but the new store is good news for the Marin City community as well as the mall, which has struggled for an identity in a county with a whopping 17 shopping centers and strip malls.

 The center opened in 1995 after the popular Marin City Flea Market was dispatched. The center was sold as a way to bring jobs and stores to Marin City, an area that had suffered from unemployment as well as an image problem tied to the dense housing that was originally built to accommodate shipbuilding workers for Marinship in Sausalito in World War ll. From the beginning, it was supposed to have a grocery store as an anchor, since Marin City didn’t have one, but the store never materialized—like a lot of promises made to the community.

Originally, the Gerrity Group wanted Cinemark to install a multiscreen complex in the Best Buy building. CVS Pharmacy signed off on the deal, but Ross Dress for Less went thumbs down, saying a movie house would eat up too much shopper parking.

Instead of competing for parking, Ross now gets to compete with Target to sell clothing and shoes, jewelry, as well as home stuff and pet supplies.

Gerrity claims it isn’t done yet. It’s trying to snag Trader Joe’s for the space left vacant when Dollar Tree cashed out.

Will the Ritter Center be homeless?

The issue of the homeless and the Ritter Center in San Rafael’s downtown is fraught with competing interests, political lip service, hypocrisy and a heart-wrenching sense of failure that deserves more than a short item in this column. It will get its own column or perhaps a story if I can make my case to the smart folks that run this publication.

In the meantime, suffice it to say the San Rafael city council had enough complaints from downtown merchants, slapping the Ritter Center, a nonprofit organization that provides services to low-income and homeless residents from a facility not far from the San Rafael Transportation Center, with a document looking to amend the center’s use and zoning permits. While nothing’s in writing saying the center’s time downtown is up, if you were to book that bet you’d have the odds.

Your Marin moment

While there are a number of ways for a business to lose its following in Marin, one that’s guaranteed would be to claim you’re “all natural” when you aren’t. It seems the Federal Trade Commission isn’t too happy with companies that deliberately confuse the public over what’s natural and what isn’t, as California Naturel Inc. recently found out. The regulator hit the privately held Sausalito company with a complaint, saying “All natural or 100 percent natural means just that—no artificial ingredients or chemicals. Companies should take a lesson from these cases,” the FTC said in a statement.

The problem, according to the regulator, is the California Naturel’s SPF 30 sunscreen allegedly contained Diamethecone, which isn’t natural, violating sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act. Diamethecone is also known as Polymethysiloxane and is silicon-based polymer which is used as a lubricant and conditioning agent. Which doesn’t sound all that natural. The company sells the 2.3-ounce tube for $35.

J.B. Duler, founder and CEO of the company, says he was stunned by the FTC action, as there’s no federal definition for “natural.” He says the regulator asked the company to add a disclosure about the dimethicone, which it did, saying it was 8 percent of the sunscreen. A hearing is set for December on the FTC action, and Duler says his company is looking forward to the regulator explaining exactly what the issue is.



 

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