Report finds dot-com bust made S.F. no city for small businesses

The dot-com boom and bust left a legacy of overly subdivided industrial buildings no longer suited to the small- and medium-size businesses that employ many of The City’s least-educated workers, according to findings in a new report.

The 57-page report by the city-led Back Streets Businesses Advisory Board outlines the important role small businesses play, while painting a picture of the challenges faced by small businesses as they try to stay afloat in a city known for high taxes and limited space.

Other challenges identified in the report include a shortage of skilled laborers, high land costs, poor quality roads in industrial areas, a lack of mass transit for workers in industrial areas, and a failure by the businesses to collectively lobby for tax breaks and similar government incentives.

About 10,000 San Franciscan back-streets businesses — called that because they tend to keep low profiles and operate out of back streets — prepare food, fix cars, courier documents, sew uniforms and serve other important but little-noticed functions in the local economy, the report says.

They employ more than 70,000 people and pay about $55 million a year in payroll taxes to The City, which is one-fifth of the total collected, according to the report.

According to board chairman Peter Cohen, one of the biggest challenges faced by the businesses is their “benign neglect” at the hands of The City. He said San Francisco is starting to pay more attention to the businesses.

“Some of our recommendations have as much to do with creating an atmosphere of caring as it does about hard dollars,” Cohen said Tuesday during a discussion hosted by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.

On average, back-streets businesses pay employees about 10 percent less than other companies, according to the report, but they are important employers for workers who lack educational certifications.

Many back-streets businesses operate out of the southeastern part of The City. Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, whose district covers that area and who helped form the task force, said she would hold public hearings next month to discuss findings and recommendations in the report.

“We want to bring as much attention to it as we possibly can,” Maxwell told The Examiner. “Then we’re going to look at what we can legislate.”

jupton@examiner.com

 

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

U.S. Attorney David Anderson announces federal firearms charges against two men for their roles in a March 2019 shooting outside the Fillmore Heritage Center in a news conference alongside SFPD staff at the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Departing U.S. attorney predicts corruption probe will continue

David Anderson shook up City Hall as top federal prosecutor

Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, a former school board member, has been asked to help secure an agreement between the school district and teacher’s union. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
 <ins></ins>
Supervisor Walton tapped to mediate teacher contract talks

District and union at odds over hours in-person students should be in the classroom

California is set to receive supplies of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is still under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Courtesy photo)
California could receive 380K doses of new J&J COVID vaccine next week

California could receive 380,300 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

A Bay Area Concrete Recycling facility that opened on PG&E property in 2019. Former PG&E employees have been accused of accepting bribes from Bay Area Concrete. (Courtesy of Bay Area Concrete Recycling via ProPublica)
Lawsuit reveals new allegations against PG&E contractor accused of fraud

By Scott Morris Bay City News Foundation Utility giant Pacific Gas &… Continue reading

Most Read