'SF has lost its mojo': Mayor London Breed calls for residents to support small businesses

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Surviving as a small business in San Francisco
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San Francisco small businesses gathered at City Hall to share their struggles and concerns over rent hikes and state fees, Mayor London Breed calls for residents to shop local this holiday season.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Mayor London Breed is calling for San Francisco residents to support local businesses during the holidays.

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Staying afloat continues to be a challenge for many small businesses, including Firuze, a boutique on Union Street. The store owner's rent went up 85% last year and then came the bombshell.

"They gave me only a year and they said it's going to be another 200% increase if I stay longer," revealed store owner Firuze Hariri.

After 42 years, Hariri is closing her shop. I asked her, if given the chance to talk to Mayor London Breed, what would she tell her.

"We should have some sort of restrictions on the rent control for commercial space as well," Hariri pointed out.

Here's the mayor's response: "While we can't control what a landlord charges, we do have some controls over how we eliminate some of the fees and provide rebates and support and grant opportunities for small businesses."

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The reality is that San Francisco imposes a lot of fees on small businesses, fees sometimes already charged by the state. One of the members of the Small Business Commission confirmed it.

I asked her, "So you're saying that we in San Francisco have more fees for smaller businesses than probably anywhere else?"

"Oh, yeah," expressed Commissioner Miriam Zouzounis.

Those fees, paid to agencies like the Health Department and Public Works, to name a few, add up to more than $2,000 a year. What can be done?

"Do the hard work of identifying which ones aren't relevant anymore and which ones we get rid of," Zouzounis explained.

San Francisco now has the Legacy Business Program. Landlords may qualify to receive up to $22,500 from the city to help supplement the price of the rent, but a business must be at least 30 years old and agree to sign a 10-year lease.

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That's why some small business owners say selling online is now a better option.

"I think in San Francisco, having a brick and mortar is a big issue," said Anna Magelssen, owner of Proper Herbal Infusions.

On Tuesday, the mayor opened City Hall to a handful of small businesses that are trying to gain visibility and stay in business.

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