A report issued Thursday recommends the Shared Spaces program be extended through 2023 to give businesses an incentive to invest in making their spaces attractive. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Economic recovery task force calls for extended Shared Spaces program

Report includes 41 ideas to address COVID-19 impact on economy

Recommendations issued Thursday to help San Francisco’s economy recover from the impacts of the pandemic call for extending the Shared Spaces program for at least three years, pursuing funding to provide for a universal basic income and delaying the collection of impact fees from developers.

The San Francisco Economic Recovery Task Force issued 41 recommendations in its final report Thursday, after it convened in April at the direction of Mayor London Breed and Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee to address the economic impacts.

Breed has already committed to an initial series of initiatives in response to the report, including a call to ensure the Shared Spaces program operates through the duration of the local emergency and plans to “work to make elements of the program permanent,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

The Shared Spaces program, which launched during the pandemic when indoor dining and retail were prohibited, allows businesses to use a portion of the public right-of-way like sidewalks and streets for dining and retail sales. The City has issued over 1,600 Shared Spaces permits to date.

The report recommended that “the Shared Spaces program should be extended three years until December 31, 2023 so as to give businesses an incentive to make their spaces attractive, and give them certainty that the program will be a worthwhile investment.”

Breed also announced a plan for a pilot universal basic income program for 130 artists who will each receive $1,000 per month for at least six months starting next year.

The report recommends The City pursue state and federal resources for a broader universal basic income program to “provide dignity for all especially as the pandemic has decimated service industries and lower wage jobs.”

She also said The City will defer collection of impact fees on development projects. The Mayor’s Office said the deferred collection will “help promote housing construction in San Francisco” as well as job creation.

“Falling rents and sales prices, stubbornly high construction costs, and broad economic uncertainty have resulted in developers unable to secure financing for their projects and a slowdown in development projects breaking ground,” the report said.

Allowing developers to defer paying import fees until a project receives the first certificate of occupancy at the end of construction “would help developers secure financing on projects that would likely not be able to break ground and pay impact fees otherwise,” the report said.

The full Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the report on Oct. 27.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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