Mayor London Breed as seen here in August, and Supervisor Vallie Brown on Monday unveiled a plan that aims to attract and retain more small businesses along the city’s commercial corridors. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Mayor unveils plan to attract, retain new businesses

San Francisco Mayor London and Supervisor Vallie Brown today unveiled a plan that aims to attract and retain more small businesses along the city’s commercial corridors.

With the Citywide Storefront Vacancy Strategy, city officials hope to fill vacant retail spaces, which have been emptied due to shifting shopping trends and slow sales.

“We are committed to helping our local small businesses adapt to major shifts we are seeing in the retail industry,” Breed said in a statement.

“This means streamlining our city bureaucracy so that opening a store or getting a permit is straightforward and simple, creating new programs to highlight our commercial corridors, and increasing flexibility so businesses can use their space in a way that make sense for them,” the mayor said.

The new strategy seeks to create new legislation that would remove existing barriers for small business owners, such as a slow permit-review process for opening, expanding or relocating a store. New legislation would also allow for a space to be in used in creative new ways, like a pop-up store or a multi-purpose location.

Additionally, the plan advocates for leveraging already existing city programs to help small businesses with technical and financial assistance.

The strategy also seeks to implement administrative reforms so that small business owners can obtain permits over-the-counter, rather than waiting months for different city departments to approve it.

The city will invest $1 million toward the strategy, Breed’s office said.

“There’s no question about it, we need to support our small businesses,” Brown said. “We need to make sure the city doesn’t get in the way — that’s the kind of legislation I’m focused on right now, legislation that removes antiquated regulations, legislation that cuts permitting costs and delays, and legislation that supports small businesses in developing vital new revenue streams.”

The storefront strategy was created from findings in a report published in February from the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development on the challenges facing San Francisco’s small businesses.

-Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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