Business owners in San Francisco's Chinatown collaborate to fight crime

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A group of business owners in Chinatown is taking matters into their own hands after two violent attacks and what feels like to them a constant stream of break-ins and crime.

While it doesn't sound like much, many are banking on a change in parking garage fees at night to not only bring in more business but to the area but to also get the attention of law enforcement to provide more resources.

Business owner and entertainment commissioner Steven Lee has been lobbying for more than 6-months to get parking rates reduced at the Portsmouth Square Parking Garage, the primary garage location for those visiting Chinatown.

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"There are a lot of empty storefronts we still want to fill...but most importantly we want to push more nightlife. But the biggest problem is that people don't feel like their cars are safe," he says.

Before the rate there to park from 5pm to 2am cost $36. Now after working with the SFMTA, SF Rec and Park and garage management the new evening rate will be $8 to park during that same time.

In addition, parkers who spend $40 or more at 50+ participating shops and restaurants will receive a discount of $5 making that same 9 hour parking rate jus $3.

The program is in partnership with the Chinese Newcomers group, Chinatown Merchants Association, SF Chamber of Commerce, Be Chinatown and Chinatown Community Development Center.

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Shoppers and diners can look for a green QR code or sign that says "E C Park" and know immediate validation is being offered.

You can go to this Facebook page for more information.

The changes come after a two men were viciously attacked in broad daylight last summer. That incident was followed by brazen car break-ins caught on camera and then the brutal assault of 3 men in Portsmouth Square that fall.

A group of business leaders on Monday took to the streets in what seemed like a small army to approach local businesses and ask for their participation in the parking validation program. One legacy restaurant owner says she thinks I'll help attract people to her shop.

Not everyone is completely on board with the idea. Kevin Chan, the owner of the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory says while lowering the Portsmouth garage rates for evening parkers is a good thing-more needs to be done.

"You need to have something else like activities...to get the storefronts more active. To get people to come. Not just stores but something with art and creative." Says Chan.

Steven hopes if the garage validation program works they'll be able to expand to more than 1,000 small businesses participating soon.
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