Posted on Wed, Aug. 27, 2003

'Gnats' set to take on redevelopment agency

By Leigh Weimers

Mercury News

It's not only labor organizations and their community-benefits campaign that have San Jose's redevelopment agency in their sights. The ad hoc Coalition for Redevelopment Reform also is calling for a boycott of the new Black Sea Gallery furniture store downtown, months if not years before the place even opens.

Attorney Loraine Wallace says the coalition's call is the result of the city's decision to give Oakland-based Black Sea rights to the former Woolworth building instead of to local businessman Eric Sahn of South First Billiards.

"He even wanted to bid more for! the property and the city wouldn't let him,'' Wallace complains. "Hey, where is this -- Russia?''

Wallace adds that other boycotts could be in the works for redevelopment projects closer to completion, including the McCormick & Schmick seafood restaurant on Paseo de San Antonio.

"We're willing to boycott any project getting an advantage that our local businesses aren't getting.''

Likely impact? The coalition is gnat-size compared with the valley's labor unions, but even gnats can bite. Remember the coalition's "Not for Sale by Owner'' signs a couple of years ago that protested the redevelopment agency's power to condemn property?

(Details at -- what a keyboardful!)