San Francisco Economic Recovery Task Force Releases Final Report
In initial response to comprehensive report, City announces plan to expand elements of the Shared Spaces program beyond the pandemic, support businesses with grants to support reopening, delay impact fees, initiate a basic income program for arts, and more
San Francisco, CA — Today the San Francisco Economic Recovery Task Force (ERTF) released a report and policy recommendations at its final meeting, following months of stakeholder convenings. Called together in early April by Mayor London N. Breed and Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, the ERTF began meeting within six weeks of the Stay Safer at Home Health Order, bringing together over 100 leaders from business, hospitality, labor, faith, education, non-profit, and community organizations to guide and inform San Francisco’s economic recovery through COVID-19.
The ERTF was chaired by Assessor Carmen Chu, Treasurer José Cisneros, President of the Chamber of Commerce Rodney Fong, and Executive Director of the Labor Council Rudy Gonzalez. The report issued today summarizes the early economic impacts of COVID-19 and the City’s immediate response to support residents, businesses and workers. The report advances 41 policy recommendations that focus on long-term economic recovery and development, narrowing the gap for vulnerable communities, and providing businesses more opportunities and flexibility to operate and succeed in the short- and mid-term.
In response to the report, Mayor Breed announced an initial series of steps to support San Francisco’s recovery, including moving forward on creating a plan to make elements of the Shared Spaces program permanent, providing direct funding support to businesses, creating a pilot basic income program for artists, supporting cultural districts, delaying impact fees, and waiving certain taxes and fees for businesses that remain closed. These are just the beginning of San Francisco’s work to get the City moving toward economic recovery and meeting the policies and goals set in the ERTF report.
“San Francisco is only at the beginning of what we know is going to be a long road to recovery,” said Mayor London Breed. “Here in this City, I’ve been so proud of how we came together to combat this virus with a shared commitment to public health and keep one another safe. In the months and years ahead, it’s going to take that same collective effort to confront the economic devastation caused by this virus. I want to thank everyone who participated in the Economic Recovery Task Force, especially our co-chairs, for stepping up when San Francisco needed them most to come forward with their ideas and their energy. We need to continue to translate these ideas into action so we can get people back to work and get San Francisco moving forward.”
“We are grateful to all the Economic Recovery Task Force members coming together to offer ideas, recommendations, and a vision for San Francisco’s future,” said President Norman Yee. “We recognize the challenges so many of our businesses and residents are facing. I look forward to working with my Board colleagues, the Mayor, and the Co-Chairs to evaluate and to develop policies based on this Report to bring relief to the communities that need it most.”
“The recommendations released today are a reflection of the immediate needs and aspirations of our Task Force and community. I am especially proud that we never lost sight of the need to rebuild more equitably so that all our communities can prosper,” said Assessor Carmen Chu, Co-Chair of the Economic Recovery Task Force. “This report is just the beginning, we must continue to adapt to emerging needs of this global pandemic. Our Task Force’s Shared Spaces program is an example of what is possible when we work with purpose and when we work together. Collectively, the Task Force, departments, Mayor’s Office and Board of Supervisors acted swiftly to remove obstacles and support a program that has since created opportunities for more than 1,600 businesses across the City. As we move forward, my hope is that we continue to rise to meet the future with the same passion, creativity, and collective purpose.”
Over the last several months, the ERTF has been instrumental in supporting the City’s response to COVID, including by creating the City’s Shared Spaces program and helping lead the creation of the reopening roadmap, which provided a timeline and guidance for reopening San Francisco’s economy. The Shared Spaces program allows neighborhood businesses to share a portion of the public right-of-way, such as sidewalks, streets, or other nearby public or private spaces for dining and retail activity, and the City has issued over 1,600 Shared Spaces permits to date.
The ERTF Report policy recommendations include actions that are both short-term and longer-term. The City has already implemented some of the recommendations such as the Shared Spaces program, business tax deferrals, increased testing capability across the City, and expanded sick leave programs. The recommendations focus on the following areas of need:
- Local Economic Stimulus - explore policies and investments that encourage economic development and activity in San Francisco, such as funding public infrastructure projects, streamlining permitting processes, advocacy for state and federal resources, and more
- Job Connections - facilitate and improve connection to jobs and explore programs that hire local workers
- Promote Safe Reopening - provide clear and accessible information to businesses and workers on reopening requirements and provide tools and strategies to keep workers, customers, and residents safe
- Preserve Operations and Lessen Regulatory Burdens - create flexibility for businesses to operate and consider reducing or eliminating regulatory burdens
- Pursue Economic Justice - narrow the wealth gap and bridge the digital divide for low-income residents and communities of color
- Invest in Housing - incentivize the construction of affordable housing, an immediate and long-term need
- Meet the Basic Needs of the Vulnerable - ensure San Franciscans have access to food, shelter, mental health, and other services
- Imagine and Build Stronger Neighborhoods - activate and draw upon San Francisco’s unique neighborhood and cultural assets
For the full list of detailed policy recommendations, read the report here: onesanfrancisco.org
“When San Francisco faces an incredible challenge, the entire community pulls together,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “The Economic Recovery Task Force convened government leaders and community members to chart the roadmap for restoring San Francisco’s economic strength. We will return from this pandemic like we rebuilt after the earthquakes and like we endured through the AIDS crisis. I am grateful to all the Task Force members for the contributions they made. Their work will guide us on our journey ahead.”
“The entire business community thanks Mayor London Breed and President Norman Yee for pulling together this diverse group of stakeholders to shape and solve the challenges COVID-19 has brought to San Francisco,” said Rodney Fong, President and CEO, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “We have a long road to recovery ahead of us, but if we are able to come together as San Franciscans, I’m confident that we will rebuild San Francisco as a better and more equitable city.”
“The ERTF has been a productive and important step in what will continue to be a campaign toward a just and equitable recovery,” said Rudy Gonzalez, Executive Director of the San Francisco Labor Council. “I’m excited to see SF lead the way in developing high road workforce training and career opportunities especially for our hardest hit communities.”
The Mayor will initiate several immediate actions informed by the ERTF report today and aligned with the areas of need identified in the policy recommendations. These are just the first in a series of actions that will be forthcoming to support San Francisco’s economic recovery.
Extending Shared Spaces: Building off of the early successes of the Shared Spaces program, the City will work to make elements of the program permanent. The existing Shared Spaces program will continue throughout the duration of the local emergency in San Francisco, which remains in effect, and the new effort will incorporate lessons learned and ensure that the program’s benefits to businesses and the community continue throughout San Francisco’s long-term recovery and beyond.
Economic Support for Small Business Reopenings: The City will provide $1.6 million in grants and design services to support neighborhood businesses that need to purchase furniture and fixtures and reconfigure space in order to meet health requirements for operating. This funding will come by re-purposing grant funding from the SF Shines program, which normally gives grants to businesses for facade improvements. Additionally, the City will provide $200,000 for businesses that need legal support and assistance negotiating their leases.
Basic Income Pilot for Artists: San Francisco is directing nearly $6 million in funding for artists, teaching artists, arts organizations, and cultural workers, including a new universal basic income pilot program for San Francisco artists. The UBI program will provide up to 130 artists with $1,000 a month for at least six months starting early next year. The Arts Commission will also provide arts organizations with funding to reopen safely and will fund the creation of an online Arts Hub, which will serve as a one-stop-shop for artists and organizations looking for financial assistance, professional networking, and employment opportunities. Next week, the Arts Commission will open four other grant programs for artists, arts organizations, and cultural facilities. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development will make $265,000 available to fund artists to paint murals with a public health theme on boarded up businesses and deploy performance artists to promote COVID-safe behaviors in high foot traffic areas.
Fee and Tax Waivers for Closed Businesses: San Francisco is continuing its support for businesses that have been unable to open due to COVID, and will be providing an additional fee and tax waiver for businesses that remain closed -- including entertainment, arts, and nightlife venues.
Defer Impact Fee Collection: In addition to deferring fee collection from businesses, the City will defer collection of impact fees on development projects to help promote housing construction in San Francisco. This will help advance the City’s goals of creating more housing and making San Francisco a more affordable place to live, while also promoting local job creation.
Grants for Cultural Districts: The Cultural Districts Community Building and Impact program will award $265,000 to each legislatively approved Cultural District working to preserve, strengthen, and promote their cultural communities. The funds will primarily be utilized to celebrate culture, support community resilience in light of COVID-19, provide direct resources, and stabilize the identity of the District and its ability to generate a vibrant economy.
Going forward, the City will use the Task Force Recommendations and the priorities for Economic Recovery that it established to inform the programs and policies it advances to rebuild San Francisco’s economy. San Francisco will continue to work with partners in the business and philanthropic community to find ways to support those who continue to struggle through this public health and economic crisis.
Economic Recovery Task Force Outreach
The ERTF was created to guide the City’s efforts to sustain and recover local businesses and employment, and mitigate the economic hardships that are affecting the most vulnerable San Franciscans. Each of the 100 members on the ERTF served as a connection point to the community beyond them, so that constituencies they represented could be connected to the City’s response to COVID. In addition to several convenings, the Task received over 1,000 public surveys and emails in multiple languages from San Franciscans.
The Task Force reached over 900 people and facilitated over 40 hours of interviews and conversations, including Task Force member policy meetings, public hearings at the Small Business Commission, Immigrant Rights Commission, the Commission on the Environment, and the Commission on the Status of Women, as well as neighborhood meetings and Cultural Districts across the city. The Task Force’s Community Engagement and Listening team also conducted targeted stakeholder outreach to tenants from single room occupancy buildings, restaurants in Chinatown (an area especially hit hard when COVID-19 initially emerged), the arts and entertainment community, immigrant communities, the disability community, and the Black, Latino and Filipino communities.
The full Report can be read here: onesanfrancisco.org