Business climate improving in The City 

Halfway through the year and leading up to the November election, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is not doing so badly when it comes to jobs and the economy. According to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Mid-Year Paychecks and Pink Slips Scorecard released last week, the board voted in favor of job creation and economic growth 88 percent of the time from January to June.

This is good news for businesses and residents as we continue to struggle to recover economically from the recession. But we can still do better.

The chamber’s latest scorecard clearly shows the current board is more attentive to the challenges facing employers and places a higher priority on jobs than the previous board, which earned only a 60 percent ranking (or a D-minus) on the chamber’s 2010 report. Four supervisors — David Chiu, Sean Elsbernd, Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen — received the highest individual rankings of 88 percent. All the newly elected supervisors received a score of 75 percent or higher. And the majority of supervisors improved their rankings.

While these are all encouraging signs, what’s missing from the analysis is concerning. With the exception of the Mid-Market Payroll Tax Exclusion and two significant land-use issues — the passage of the Treasure Island and Parkmerced redevelopments — the board has not introduced a significant number of meaningful job-, economic- or government-reform measures this year to move The City toward lasting economic recovery. In fact, the latest report includes only eight measures in total — many of which will only marginally benefit employers and the 41,000 city residents who remain unemployed.

Even more concerning are the job-killing measures that continue to be introduced. Supervisor David Campos recently proposed an amendment to the Health Care Security Ordinance that would eliminate one of the most cost-effective means for employers to comply with The City’s health care mandate. Four supervisors placed three last-minute initiatives on the November ballot that will put jobs and recovery at risk: a demolition ban on buildings with more than 50 housing units; a measure eliminating shelter beds from The City’s Care Not Cash program; and a measure limiting the ability of the Recreation and Park Department to both lease facilities and add new fees to currently free-use reaction facilities. And the list goes on.

Thankfully, combative politics and policymaking appear to be behind us for now. The new board is more congenial and more focused on jobs and economic recovery. San Francisco is poised to benefit from many economy-boosting initiatives already in motion, including recently approved redevelopment projects, last month’s International Pow Wow event and the upcoming America’s Cup.

Now is the time to keep the momentum for paychecks going.

Steve Falk is president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

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Steve Falk

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