Discussing this with some of my friends who were bemoaning the fact that a Trader Joe's store, which we all needed and which would've done much to help the other neighborhood businesses, was rejected by the neighborhood groups while CVS, a pharmacy chain, got the same space. There are already big Walgreen pharmacies within two blocks in each direction.
I was compelled to explain the situation to my friends.
There are three lobbyists in San Francisco who are excellent at their jobs. Some national chains,CVS, Walgreens, Citibank, Chase, Loews, cell tower operators, Comcast and a few others have been smart enough to hire these three top lobbyists. The rest of the major chains including Starbucks, Trader Joe's, Home Depot, and Walmart have hired lobbyists who are not in the top rank. They don’t get good locations or any location at all.
The difference between the top rank three lobbyists and the rest is that the top ranked lobbyists know who to bribe and what bribes will work. The others just cost money and can't deliver.
Local government, here and in most of the world, is totally in the hands of bribery. To think otherwise is foolish.
In San Francisco the ordinary homeowner needs to know that certain construction groups have established bribery mechanisms. You hire Chinese for electrical work, Mexicans for roofing and Irish for carpentry and you will get your permits promptly. Hire anyone else and you will face long delays and obstreperous neighbors.
That's the way it works.