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Largest business advocacy day comes to City Hall

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(Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

Today, the largest business advocacy day in the Bay Area comes to City Hall to urge city leaders to create an environment where business and its workforce can live and thrive. This unprecedented cross section of San Francisco’s employers will not only bring a diverse set of viewpoints, but a focused agenda on how we can improve our city.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce convened 20 partner organizations representing all aspects of business, including large business, tech, manufacturing, cannabis, small business, tourism, health care, life sciences and minority-owned businesses. We are speaking as one business community with one voice, working together to advocate for smart, collaborative solutions to some of our city’s most pressing issues.

Through a series of forums and meetings, our coalition of more than 200 attendees is focusing on five key areas.

First, we are pushing for affordability, diversity and family retention to make San Francisco accessible to people of all income levels. We need to support home ownership for middle-class families, immigrant communities and first-time homebuyers. We need to create more places for people to live. We need to build taller residential buildings with a larger number of units set aside for affordable and mid-level housing. We need to facilitate better interdepartmental communication that supports the development of more accessory dwelling units. In the last six years, more than 100,000 jobs were created in San Francisco; yet, housing units continue to lag way behind.

Second, we are tackling congestion. How do we manage traffic citywide and downtown to make it easier for people and goods to move around, especially in the midst of massive transit projects? We are committed to creating a better flow of communication between the business community and The City, so businesses can prepare while San Francisco makes important infrastructure upgrades.

Third, we are championing economic growth and vitality, especially in our neighborhood corridors. There’s a lot more we could be doing to help our small businesses. We need to streamline and expedite permits for small merchants and we need to maintain a baseline level of services for our Community Benefit Districts. Small business is the backbone of our neighborhoods, and representatives should be on more city boards and commissions to make sure their voice is heard.

Fourth, to make San Francisco a place where we all want to work and live, we need to maintain safe and civil sidewalks. We hear on a regular basis the way San Francisco’s reputation is being jeopardized by the state of our streets, which are at a crisis point. Twenty-five percent of our San Francisco visitors say the condition of our sidewalks would inhibit them from returning to San Francisco.

And finally, we need to support industries that provide jobs to our residents, and essential tax revenue to The City. The organizations represented at today’s event contribute billions in economic activity to The City, and businesses conservatively generate more than $1.7 billion in general fund revenue each year.

We have a full day planned that includes forum discussions on priority topics to the business community, one-on-one meetings with our elected representatives, a networking reception and a Mayoral Candidate Forum to conclude the day. I’m proud to be part of the San Francisco business community, and that the Chamber of Commerce is coming to the table with solutions, ideas and an open mind.

Tallia Hart is president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

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