Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment and nightlife venues to help them weather the impacts of COVID-19, city officials announced Monday.

The fee relief for about 300 businesses including music venues, bars, and restaurants with live performances comes as they have largely been unable to open due to The City’s pandemic restrictions to slow the spreed of the disease.

“As we recover and keep up our progress on reopening, we want to make sure these businesses are still around to bring music, performances and excitement, as well as provide jobs for so many,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “Entertainment and nightlife are such an important part of why people live and visit our city, and we hope these additional fee waivers reduce some of the financial stress they’re experiencing.”

Even though establishments are forced to close, they are still obligated to pay fees and taxes.

Treasurer José Cisneros said that “this tax and fee relief will remove a looming burden from many businesses who’ve been shuttered by COVID-19.”

The City’s waiving of the fees is estimated to impact 300 businesses with gross receipts less than $20 million. The fees waived include businesses’ regulatory license fees and registration fees for two years and waiving their payroll tax expenses for 2020. Businesses will still have to file their business tax returns, but will not have to pay back the fees. The total fees waived are expected to total $2.5 million.

Ben Bleiman, president of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, supported the fee waiver, calling entertainment venues “a large part of the reason people flock to San Francisco and rave about our culture.”

“They are also particularly vulnerable during these times due to their business models,” Bleiman said in a statement. “We must do all we can to support these businesses, so that we have places to be able to come together once we’re able to come together again.”

The fee waivers are in line with the recent recommendations of the Economic Recovery Task Force.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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