It is hard to believe that it is already November! As we get closer to the holidays, I want to take a moment to encourage all of you to shop and eat locally – TimeOut listed our District as the coolest in San Francisco, and it’s in no small part thanks to our local restaurants and shops. Protecting and supporting our small businesses takes all of us working together.
My office has been working with Katy Tang, our director of the Office of Small Business, on how to make sure we protect our small businesses in the Richmond, encourage growth and tackle empty storefronts. I worked with Tang to include language in her proposed commercial zoning legislation to continue banning corporate chain restaurants on Geary in the Central Richmond so our unique local eats, like Joe’s Ice Cream, can thrive against chain restaurants like McDonalds. I also asked that we continue to ban big box pet stores and instead support our local pet shops. This legislation, with the amendments I requested, will now allow flexible use of our small business spaces for multi-use purposes like arts, professional services and restaurant and retail, and will help small businesses get the permits they need more easily and cut red tape for commercial property landlords leasing out their spaces.
We must also step up to help protect our small businesses from becoming victims of break-ins and vandalism. In October, SF Police Department (SFPD) retired police ambassadors began patroling merchant corridors in the Richmond. The ambassadors will act as deterrents to crime and provide support to our residents, visitors, businesses and Richmond District Police Station officers. While we welcome the support from SFPD ambassadors, it is not enough, as our small businesses continue to face break-ins and other public safety issues.
I recently convened a working group with our small business leaders from Balboa Village, Geary Boulevard Merchants Association, Clement Street Merchants Association, and Captain Chris Canning of our Richmond District Police Station, along with the Community Youth Center. We will be meeting regularly to develop strategies and coordinate solutions for crime prevention and response.
My team and I have also continually met with small businesses after they have become victims of crime. After a series of break-ins, Community Youth Center’s ambassadors and I visited the New Lung Fung Bakery on Clement and had an in-depth conversation with the owner about what we can do to support him and his team. Many people were made aware of the situation and, after our visit, New Lung Fung Bakery shared with us that they received so many orders that they completely sold out of mooncakes for the Autumn Moon Festival! We also connected with other small businesses, like Star India, which experienced multiple break-ins, to ensure they are connected with services and access to funding for crime victims.
But break-ins aren’t the only issue our small businesses face. We have seen an increase in graffiti on our commercial corridors. Last month, I proposed new legislation to restart the Graffiti Advisory Board. This legislation is intended to create a more efficient body that can advise the City on how to best prevent graffiti and beautify our City. In addition to the advisory board, the city has created a graffiti abatement fund for properties along our commercial corridor. This fund helps provide money directly to small businesses and other property owners who are victims of vandalism.
Our support for all our small businesses does not stop here. Let’s make sure we do our best to eat and shop local! See you out in the neighborhood. Find out about these and our other initiatives by signing up for our newsletter at bit.ly/d1newsletter.
This article was published in the Richmond Review in November 2023.