Many small businesses feared they would be evicted when a moratorium expired at the end of September. However, that ban on commercial evictions is now set to be extended through march of 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Businesses to get a break with extension of commercial eviction ban

San Francisco now has state clearance to extend its commercial eviction ban through March 2021, under a new order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The order Newsom signed Wednesday night authorizes local jurisdictions to ban commercial evictions until the end of March 2021. A previous authorization was set to expire at the end of September, leaving many businesses fearful that they could soon face eviction.

After the order was issued, Mayor London Breed said on Twitter she would extend the local order until March 2021 as allowed.

“We will be extending our local eviction moratorium here in SF to keep small businesses stable as we continue on the road to recovery,” Breed wrote. “Losing these protections would have been devastating for struggling small businesses.”

San Francisco cleared another reopening hurdle last week in allowing hotels, places of worship, outdoor tour buses, drive-in movies, and indoor personal services like hair salons and gyms to resume varying levels of operation even as hospitalizations began to rise. Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Rafael Mandelman have also proposed legislation to waive permit and renewal fees for outdoor use like displays or parklets through April 2022 to provide further relief.

Many businesses and landlords have been operating in a state of uncertainty as the October deadline loomed. After months of shelter-in-place closures and investment to adapt, businesses were making a fraction of their usual revenue and the prospect of having to pay full back rent or fight an eviction loomed for many.

One business, Yubalance Neighborhood Fitnesses Club, previously told The Examiner it had lost 80 percent of its revenue between its three studios, with just 150 of 600 customers remaining from before the pandemic hit.

Tenants at the Japan Center mall have also been trying to negotiate rent relief from property owners, the Examiner previously reported.

“The governor’s extension allows us to put in place the commercial eviction protections we need in San Francisco,” said Diane Matsuda, staff attorney with Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, who represents 44 Japan Center tenants. “But this is about more than just preventing small business displacement. This is about cultural preservation, and making sure neighborhoods like Japantown can persevere through this pandemic and beyond.”

The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday urging Newsom to extend the statewide order and pushed for more action with small businesses.

“Our office was told we couldn’t implement further protections because of state limitations,” said Supervisor Dean Preston. “This is a testament to effective organizing.”

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