SF makes changes to planning code to make it easier for businesses to get permits

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Friday, December 15, 2023
SF makes it easier for small businesses to get permits
San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced 100 changes to the planning code that would make it easier for new and existing businesses to thrive.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Thursday announced 100 changes to the city's planning code that would make it easier for new and existing businesses to thrive.

These new laws will make it easier for business owners to either expand or change their business model or even for new businesses to open, removing the burden of the typical permitting process.

Ten months ago,. Anthony Strong opened Pasta Supply Co. in San Francisco's Inner Richmond.

"We make 30 different shapes. Thirty different pasta shapes and 20ish different sauces basically," said Anthony Strong, Owner of Pasta Supply Co.

Mayor London Breed says the changes will help new and current business owners focus on their businesses and not fear the city's permitting process.

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"These pieces of legislation is going to make things that were impossible for years to happen in the city possible," said Mayor Breed.

One-hundred changes to the city's planning code means eliminating fees and streamlining rules around permits.

"It also does a lot of things to just remove simple zoning restrictions that won't allow one person with a guitar to play at a coffee shop," said Ben Bleiman with the Entertainment Commission, and added, "This is huge. Huge, huge for these businesses."

One of the changes impacts liquor licenses for music venues.

"Now through this legislation bars and nighttime entertainment and restaurants that want to add liquor licenses, they can actually go through and be eligible for the expedited review process. So they would have a hearing within 90 days," said Katy Tang, director of the San Francisco's Office of Small Business.

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These changes will also allow neighborhoods like Haight Ashbury to grow. For decades, they've had a cap on the number of restaurants and businesses allowed. That's changing now.

"We will be able to have more restaurants. The shops will be able to have a more diverse offering where if they wanted to do coffee, music, a pop-up - we can do all these things and be able to do pilot programs to see what works," said Sunshine Powers, president of the Haight Ashbury Merchant Association.

These changes are adding to previous small business reforms that went into the effect during the pandemic.

"Removing roadblocks to opening businesses is going to help us business owners. Anybody who wants to be one can open with less headache and that is going to create thriving neighborhoods and communities," said Strong.

The city has helped business owners with past small business reforms like the passage of Prop H in 2020 and the Small Business Recovery Act in 2021, which allowed for more commercial projects to be processed faster.

The new laws will go into effect in 30 days.

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