Small business report past due, but business advocate says mayor making progress

With tech firms seemingly the beneficiary of much of the love coming out of City Hall these days, small businesses feel somewhat neglected in the wake of the realization that a voter-mandated report on how to make life easier on them is now years past due.

In November 2007, voters approved Proposition I, a ballot measure requiring the issuance of a report on how San Francisco can streamline its many regulations affecting small businesses. To this day, the report has not been issued. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has long called for completion of the report, and on Tuesday he called out Mayor Ed Lee for failing to live up to his prior commitment of completing the report by June. In March, Lee told the board that he would get the report done by June.

Small-business advocate Scott Hauge said Wednesday that “there’s a feeling out there” of small businesses being overshadowed by flashier tech companies — especially given the efforts of angel investor Ron Conway, a prominent supporter of the mayor, to promote tech as a major job creator.

But Hauge gave Lee credit for doing what previous mayors have refused to do — namely, sitting down with him and other small-business owners on a quarterly basis. That began in October.

Hauge credited Chiu for his persistence on the issue, but he also said that, if he were Chiu, he would be “encouraged” by Lee’s efforts.

On Tuesday, during the regular question time session at the Board of Supervisors, Lee said that he was committed to completing the report and that progress is occurring.

The mayor said that data and analysis from the 16 city departments that small businesses must deal with will be completed by June. After that, The City plans to formally unveil its now-beta section on the website License123.com, an online permitting tool to help businesses identify the permits they need.

“We have a long way to go to make registering and permitting a small business as painless as buying an online widget,” Lee said. “That’s my goal.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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