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tv   Government Access Programming  SFGTV  February 5, 2018 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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and an anchor could be a full-service grocery store or another large retailer or it could be a cluster of smaller stores, related retail stores or restaurants; some sort of use that's a little cluster. other businesses in a healthy mix include restaurants, nightlife and entertainment that compliment retail sales and provide gathering spaces for potential customers and potential services and fitness centers that provide needed services and also help to draw foot traffic. professional services provide needed services in an office-like setting directly to the general public, but even uses like office and housing that may not serve the general public help generate foot traffic and the demand for retail and ncd's.
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so what all this means, diversifying the mixes in an ncd so that retailers can support their customer base, is it should include a range of storefront sizes, and storefronts should be designed to adaptablity, and be able to serve a wide set of uses. it also means that the office uses that that are not open to the general public could be located off the ground floor or on the periphery of an ncd. limiting ground floor retail requirements for new development to the strongest locations for retail could also help reduce potential vacancies. so we talks a lot -- we've heard a lot today about vacancies and the work that we did suggests that limiting
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ground floor retail requirements could help to reduce those vacancies in the future. the final conclusion for our study is around experiencetial retail and the people visiting our entities. by offering a fun dining and shopping experience, ncd's can help to draw foot traffic. that means continuing to maintain and enhance the public realm is criticizing, so prioritizing pedestrian comfort and safety, keeping spaces adaptable and attractive can help to draw customers to an area and keep them there to make purchases. also, as we have seen in ncd's
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in san francisco, celebrating local, historical and cultural assets can contribute to a unique and interesting environment, so programming festivals and events can draw people into the ncd's, as well. and finally, high capacity district organizations can help districts to create a great experience for residents and visitors. so these type of organizations include community benefit districts, merchants' association, community development organizations and other types of management organizations. and i believe with that, i'm going to pass it back to martin. >> so perthe request, we wanted to go over some investing neighborhoods and go over some of the ncds that support our districts and small businesses. but first, we wanted to have a common definition of vacancy.
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but first, i want to recognize that we're all talking about the commercial districts supporting them, their vibrancy, their vitality, and what they have to offer all of us, whether we're businesses, residents or workers. and one thing that we all accept as part of a healthy district is vacancies. it's defined as an empty storefront or it's occupied with a noncommercial use. as is mentioned beginning in 2013, our staff conducted biannual physical storefront vacancy surveys. we're out there pounding the pavement as part of our program, and we want to also say that while we recognize that these underutilized spaces which may not be open on a regular daily basis, those are
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not counted at vacant. those are occupied from our point of view, but while they're not tech knee vacant, they certainly do have an impact on community perception in a neighborhood. what is a healthy vacancy from our perspective. economic developers usually use from a five to 10% range. that said, the perception of whether or not there is a vacancy problem in a particular neighborhood commercial district can vary. the numbers have value, as does each district's population based on their priorities and circumstances. sometimes even when the vacancy rate is within a healthy range, neighborhood stakeholders are concerned about vacancy. what you see here is that the citywide vacancy rate has stayed low, even through the recession beginning in 20 -- or coming out of it in 2009.
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as the bay area economy grew out of the recession, increase for retail space created competition, and we can also see rents growing quite quickly in retail spaces. the retail rent vacancy last year was -- was 3.2%, and this provides some concern when vacancies in a neighborhood get too high, as well they are too low. when vacancies are under 5%, we worry about those rent rising, and a needed change that we li -- a space for needed changeover time that we see in a corridor. we define vacancies in two different ways, either as active or inactive. active means we have an
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identified or commercial tenant. inactive is we do not have a tenant. we have historically divided these vacancies into these categories so we can refer businesses to storefronts that are technically available even if not proactively being leased. we report these annually to the controller's office, and for the purposes of the retail setting and as a way to gauge corridor health, we analyze a combined effect of both these active and inactive vacancies. they both have a value to us in terms of what residents are seeing and experience and also how we work in a given space. it's interesting to note when we began tracking in 2013 to 2016, that active vacancy rate, where we see our programs really having -- when packaged and tailored and curated in a way, we can see them having an impact here in terms of the
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active vacancy rate declining by about 1.7%, whereas citywide, you see those vacancies actually increasing by.9%. when we start looking a little closer at the five highest neighborhood have a cab see rates within our invested neighborhoods portfolio or the five lowest, we can see that some are greater than the healthy or normal range, and also some are very comfortable. but the average, generally, is within that healthy range. and i'm going to ask amy cohen to come up right now to talk about some of those factors that contribute to the vacancies. >> good afternoon. the bla report started to identify some of the causes of the vacancies in san francisco and we just wanted to try to
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describe it in a very colorful picture quickly. and in our experience, this office has done a lot of work filling vacancies and doing more comprehensive commercial corridor work. in particular in low income neighborhoods, but also in moderate and higher income neighborhoods around the city. and we wanted to just share our experience, which is at the very core of this picture that i'm calling an on dion is a building owner, and the building may have investors. anything you do to try to fill a building comes down to the owner and motivation. if they are not motivated or willing to lease the space, it's very challenging. a couple of other factors as you work out from there are brokers, who may or may not work for the owner, or round rents. if they think they could get a
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higher rent they could hold out if the owner is sort of aware of what the considerations are. the next layer out is really the building conditions, and i don't have to say much about that, but that can be an insurmountable challenge. they might not have the capital, or sometimes they do, but then encounter something else as they've already gotten into the process and then they can't afford to move forward. the neighborhood conditions have been talked about a lot today. these influence some retail more than others. many businesses want to gravitate toward where other businesses like them are successful or where there's a lot of spending power or high income or density to be the spending power. and many of the businesses that are only reliant or very much reliant on foot traffic are very sensitive to challenges in safety and cleanliness or other challenges like parking.
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the city regulations and processes hit both the neighborhood side and the business side. again, i don't think these are new issues, but at the building level, there's a lot of regulations to navigate, and at the neighborhood level, there may be use restrictions, some of which are intended to prevent certain types of businesses from coming in, but others which maybe aren't, but are hard for landlords and brokers to understand. and then, a prospective tenant's ability to navigate all of this is another challenge, and some of them have a lot more capacity than others, and some are only going to have the motivation if there's a very high demand and very big payoff for them to go and open. and this is why we see formula retail sometimes being able to navigate processes because they have the corporate hitie-in an
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support. and then finally outside of this is all the trends in retail generally, which we've been talking about today. i just want to let you know that we have experiences trying to deal with all of these different layers, but it takes a lot of time and understanding to know where the hurdles are, and a lot of relationship building and a lot of infrastructure with community partners, brokers, and everyone else. so i think that with that, i'm going to turn it back. >> i just heard that the definition i provided might have been captured incorrectly on the closed captions, so active vacancies are defined as those which do not have an existing or identified commercial tenant, do not. in terms of the programs that we provide to support both our corridors and small businesses and of course invested neighborhoods, is there to focus on small businesses but also the targeted neighborhood commercial district. our programs are designed and deployed based on significant
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conversations with community around their priorities and desires. both are internal and external capacity. the resources that we have available to support both business services and neighborhood improvement projects, all of those are aimed at realizing an economically thriving safe, resilient, sustainable district that meets the needs of our local residents. some of our services are available citywide where others are more tailored to a specific neighborhood's needs when we are looking to concentrate and prioritize our efforts. at the time right now we have gun looking through an equity need, where we can inour time and/or resources. in those targeted commercial districts, we partner with community, board of supervisors members and other agencies, and through that we have opportunities to develop, package, deploy services to
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address the particular needs of that district. the ability of us to track these vacancies and the data that we shared is a direct result of our vested neighborhoods program. as we track vacancies and make neighborhood resources available, we have employed various tools to prevent and both fill vacancies. here, you'll see when we think about the space as a whole, the commercial district planning and management that we do in support of economic development plans, the powerful work that our community benefit districts provide, in terms of both a heightened level of services and also a sustainable committed level of resources based on the work that they do, the importance of our merchant associations and our nonprofits who work towards capacity building to make sure the
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community members are well supported and informed in what the city can -- can do in partnership with them in service of their neighborhoods. cultural district planning. based on what we've seen very positively achieved in japantown. in addition to that the japantown cultural heritage. and reminding folks that experiences in their neighborhoods can be a very powerful tool both to celebrate the identity of a given place but also to remind the people of the specialness of any given district. and finally, public realm enhancemente enhancements and events that are important to the community. we want to make sure, as well,
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when you deal with individual businesses that are -- our small businesses can stay open, that they can expand in the city and be successful. and as we develop our programs, we attempt to develop them with the various stages of any individual business in mind. meaning that we want flexible programs that can support businesses that's starting up and/or is opening multiple locations in the city or is thinking about other plans that they want to make. in this slide, their things that can help businesses strengthening retentions and applications, whether it's around the ada program, when it's around construction program that we've come to this body before, to alleviate them in the best way to deal with those issues. or in the case of most recently, a westportal fire or fires in the mission, a support
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program to help those businesses. in addition given the rising real estate prices and economic pressures that so many of us have been encountering throughout the city, we want to make sure that we're being particular about how we look at retaining and relocating when necessary businesses that are of -- important to us both from an individual perspective but also for the overall health of the local economy. our access to capital programs also support that in terms of providing low-interest loans to communities in a culturally component way, as well as investing in those areas where we want to see investment increasing, whether we talk about the bayview, the tenderloin and other neighborhoods. also to support that, our sf shines and tenant facade and improvement programs, which can go a long way in being a useful incentive in partnering small business and property owners for the benefit of our
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communities. some of those same tools can actually be used to attract businesses, and at oewd we also have an array of initiatives that also support these efforts, when we have target sector attraction services, when we talk about trying to atrack grocery stores or particular restaurants or nightlife to a neighborhood, arts, nonprofits, a production distribution repair businesses, catalyst properties that we can focus on, that have significance to a community, those can go a long way in terms of drawing someone who may not have been inclined to consider a certain neighborhood when packaged with a facade improvement program, and also the insurance that the bureaucracy can support them through that process. and as we've done since 2016 with our small business acceleration program serving over 160 businesses, we've certainly seen some success there. we certainly have a long way to go, but it's a great start in supporting those businesses. now to talk about the planning
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department, i want to invite up aaron starr from the planning department. >> good afternoon, supervisors, aaron starr, manager of legislative affairs for the planning department. i want to go over the tools that we have to help the planning corridors, and help shape more inviting commercial spaces and corridors. so the first tool is the individually named neighbor commercial districts. there are two typed of nc districts in the see. there's general neighbor commercial districts like nc-1, 2, and 3, they're individually named like noriega, and folsom. unlike individual named nc
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districts, region district presents its own challenges, and there's not one set of solutions for every district. next, vertical zoning controls are utilized more in the city's nc districts although they are used to a lesser extent in districts like the downtown shopping district and our residential commercial districts. this type of zoning control can be used to encourage more active commercial uses on the ground floor and less active uses on the second and nird floors, depending on how they're crafted. next we have our formula retail controls which primarily serve to preserve the aesthetic characters. certain districts have taken these controls further by prohibiting formula retail outright or prohibiting certain types of formula retail like formula retail restaurants. the approval process can also
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be used to encourage or discourage certain types of uses, principlely permitting a use allows them to establish without permit approval, without mandatory discretionary review provide needed review and commissioner approval. and it can require that notice go out to neighbors within 150 from the change of use, and that's for 30 days. it's important to keep in mind, though, that conditional use approval and mandatory discretion year review are really only effective in ensuring that a proposed use is effective as a particular location. an approval with use is carried with the land. the focus is often on the operator of the establishment
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with you once the use is established the owner may change without commissioner review. we also have design guidelines, nonresidential use size limits, active commercial use requirements, and a ground floor 5 foot height bonus. these code requirements seek to ensure that storefronts remain attractive and fit within the control of a neighborhood. i'd also like to clarify that -- about the active commercial use requirement. while require active uses on the ground floor in our 234 c districts, only certain streets or segmented streets require active commercial uses, and these don't necessarily have to be retail. another tool we have to preserve commercial corridor character and other unique storefronts in san francisco is our historic preservation
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review, typically done as part of our coke with a review, it ensur ceqa review, it ensures to bring storefronts you want to modern. -- or appropriate incidental and subordinate to any such use. currently accessory uses are limited to one-third of the floor area unless it's a catering use where the product is sold on-site. in that instance, there's no floor area limitation. this is one avenue that could be explored to allow businesses more flexiblity to operate. however currently we do allow multiple uses in one storefront even if they don't meet the definition of an accessory use as long as they are permitted as an individual use on my site, and that concludes my segment. thank you. >> i'm just going to close real
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quick. so we tried to package all of the potential implications of what you've heard today, both the trends in national retail, the local challenges, and some of the concerns that have come up about either programs or neighborhoods. and so we just wanted to kind of summarize these and then we'll tell you about next steps and open it up for q&a. we think that there should be some shifts in how we support neighborhood commercial districts as a city, and we have come with planning prepared to look at our programs and prepared to look at our tools, so the first category we think should be looked at is small business technical assistance. and to really look at how do we support businesses in tooling up to be able to use technology for everything they do. that's in particular something we could look at. in our neighborhood commercial district programs, we feel that there might be a way to amplify
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some of the actuals that we already have to support neighborhood commercial district capacity to promote and market their area, to care for the public realm and to activate public space. we think that there should be some changes potentially with storefront regulations and design guidelines and aaron just gave a couple examples of some of the ways this those affect small businesses in commercial districts, particularly looking at more flexiblity in some areas is one of the implications of our study about what goes in the ground floor and reducing barriers to combining uses within a storefront, the accessory use. we didn't spend much time talking about curb management policy, but clearly, there's a lot of competing pressures on curbs, and so we need to keep in mind the overall health of the corridor and the needs of small businesses, and we would be open to working with mta and
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the small business community to think through how these pressures and major transit improvement projects taken together some lead to some changes. and then finally, the potential for changes in the dbi program that has been presented today. we have a hearing on the retail study at the small business commission next week, and planning has a hearing on the study on february 22nd. each of our agencies is willing to go and take a look more deeply at our programs. i think we'll just open it up for questions now. thank you for your time. >> thank you to the presentation from our colleagues, and now supervisor yee. >> supervisor yee: i have a couple questions. i think one of the things i mentioned here, and there wasn't much of a report on it.
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in regards to the dbi, identifying vacancy programs, we already have some regulations or some enforcement programs that we supported and it seems like we're having a hard time enforcing it. is there somebody from dbi here? can you respond to that piece because it seems there's a lot more vacancy. i don't quite understand what the problem is in terms of enforcing. >> good afternoon, supervisors. ron tall, assistant director, department of building inspection. to answer your question, supervisor yee, the enforcement of this program, holistically, all vacant buildings, including residential and commercial in our department is complaint
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driven. we do not have a database, and we do not have a system that is able to capture it beyond the ability in an excel program. having said that, we are in the process of i ever willmentation of a major change in our department with a new permit and project tracking system which most of the supervisors here have heard of, and the go live date is right after labor day this year, september. so perhaps that's one of the avenues we can exercise in terms of enhancing the enforcement capablities of the department. the staff that has been in charge of the program since inception, especially we're talking about the commercial
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storefronts, has been reassessed recently. the department of building inspection and code enforcement section is in charge under the deputy of enforcement inspections. he's not here today because he happened to be on vacation, so i'm here to speak on his behalf and on the department. one of the things that we can bring back to the department are a lot of the suggestions that have been made by -- through the controller's office, through the oewd, and integration of those into a more comprehensive approach to enforcement. so having said that, we will also need to assess the staffing resources we have. that, like all departments can be somewhat challenging at times, but that's something we'll have to deal with by looking forward and looking holistically at this program. so i'm a little confused. is this staffing challenges
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that you have at dbi or is it -- we're not getting very many complaints? i mean if -- maybe you don't have any staffing challenges, if you're saying that every complaint that has been made has been -- have been inspected and assessed in regards to the validity of the complaint. >> that is a correct statement, supervisor. when we take the complaints, we have a complaint tracking system that we currently are able to utilize, and ultimately, it results in either an abatement because there's no foundation for the complaint or the complaint is valid and we proceed with the abatement process. that includes a notice of violation after an inspector is deployed to go out to the site or the complaint is registered for that address specifically, and then, the process of researching ownership and
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things of that nature are underway. and ultimately, it results in it a public hearing that we call a director's hearing at the department. >> supervisor, if i could chime in again, because our office spent quite, we are also frustrated with the legislation passing. what we did was we actually had our staff go out to all of our district four corridors and document every single vacancy in district four and then turnover an excel list, but because the list is not public, i can't actually tell if it's not being enforced or not by dbi. the issue is oewd, they only focus on a certain number of corridors, not every single one, so we initially asked for the two departments to cross share information. i think that's a great starting point. if that's even happening, i'm not sure, but i would say going forward, what i think i'm hearing from supervisor yee, we
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need all of the other enforcing departments to go ahead and do that work. i want to make sure that ten years out, 20 years out, this ability to track is still available. we as a city as a whole should be doing more of that and it should be more systematic. i am very worried about the permit tracking system that's being developed that dbi. i think we've heard for years that it's -- you know, it's coming on-line so i don't want to just hinge it on well, it'll go live in september, because i don't know if it well. any way, i hope that that addresses kind of the legislation that we've had on this for years now. >> supervisor yee: no, no, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. i guess i'm beginning to be getting to your level of frustration on this. when it comes to staffing, it seems that dbi has the ability to staff up if they really wanted to.
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they certainly have the revenue source to do that. thank you very much, and hopefully, we can hear maybe sometime this year the results of their efforts. i have one other question i'd like to ask. it's for city planning. so as i mentioned in my opening remarks, i'm interested in some of the zoning changes that would make it easier to do certain things and hopefully we can start seeing fewer of these commercial -- commercial spaces empty. and one of them, as i mentioned, is in regard to child care, but i guess my question is really in regards to what seattle did, for instance or other cities where they changed the zoning to be a little more flexible, do you know if they've been successful
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in reducing the percentage of vacant commercial spaces? >> i don't -- i'm sorry. i don't have that information with me, but we can look into it and see other cities that perhaps have similar zoning controls that relaxed them. i think seattle did that, as was presented. i do know that san francisco does have a very fine grained planning code, more so than other cities, where we really look at individual uses very carefully, so we're unique in that respect. >> supervisor yee: thank you. >> thank you. supervisor fewer? >> supervisor fewer: yeah, thank you very much. so i just have a couple of questions. from oewd, i'm wondering how do you inform commercial property owners of programs that benefit small business owners, and to what extent is that effective? >> in terms of property owners, it depends on the district we're working. if we're talking about a commercial property district, we tend to connect them with the programs that are available. in terms of the job squad that
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goes out there on a quarterly and biannual basis that go out and walk the corridor and make sure that business owners are aware of the services that we provide, we're very active on that. it's part of the process of the job squad. >> so you actually go door to door. >> and talk with business owners, in addition to getting an assessment of the business stock itself, and that one-on-one interaction with merchants and community members. >> supervisor fewer: so you actually keep date other on that? >> mm-hmm. so data presented -- >> supervisor fewer: so we could see it through our commercial corridors. >> mm-hmm. >> supervisor fewer: okay. and i just wanted to know what efforts have been made to reach out to business owners that conduct business in other than english. i know that sometimes you do not reach out to russian speaking or vietnamese speaking or taiwanese speaking, i'm
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wondering how you reach out to those property owners. >> that is next hololistically that we would like to expand, given the linguistics of an entire corridor. at the same time, one of the things i'm very proud of, we do have a very strong bilink well staff, spanish, chinese, cantoo so soon -- cantonnese. >> supervisor fewer: i see to those are the business owners is that struggle with regulations that they have to abide by. also relocation cast -- costs, just the nuts and bolts of
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running retail in a really competitive environment, and they don't have a lot of access to a lot of mainstream information, so i also wanted to know what kind of measures are taken to actively record the efficacy of your program. >> certainly. i mean i think it's based on the number of clients that are served, but i think we need to be fine grained about that, as well. it's one thing when we're outreaching to businesses, whether it's monolink well communities or others, and they decide to definitely take up the services that we provide. that's actually one of the difficulties that we have right now, specifically with monolink wemonolink -- monolingual communities. we can make the education available. sometimes for a diversity of reasons, they may not choose to take the next step. i think one measure that we want to begin taking on is what level among those populations can we increase the
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receptiveness to those programs. >> supervisor fewer: have you ever discussed having satellite sort of storefront resource centers along commercial corridors? >> actually. that's -- actually two entities provide that for us. job squad is present and holding workshops, being present and letting owners of know of workshops available if the need is raised to us. for example in chinatown in the past, when there were issues related to the department of public health, we made sure that the city and its programs could be accessible to that community. as it relates to the small business center, one of the next steps that they want to take is what are the diversity of ways that they can provide workshops on-line and test out the ability for that to be absorbed by communities who may
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or may not be able to is being ses those programs. but we have seen when we talk about the potential for increasing resources or increasing attention relating to e-commerce needs for small businesses, one of the hesitations that some have brought up is would those communities be willing or wanting to or to benefit from that adaptation or those adaptive services, and those answers is absolutely yes, so i think it's something worth trying out so that we can begin doing that, and just continue on building what our outreach is, the engagement is in a community and culturally based way. >> supervisor fewer: okay. thanks. and then, i just want to comment on this healthy range of vacancies, and actually, i think it's sometimes misleading. because when you identify a healthy range is there is a concentration sometimes on one or two blocks within a corridor, so if you're looking
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through a whole neighborhood commercial district, you might say oh, there's a low vacancy rate, but there's a high concentration sometimes within a three or four block radius, and that is actually what leads to blight, but it also doesn't allow a commercial corridor to meet its potential of vibrancy, because we quite frequently in my neighborhood, i just have to say, we have people that own multiple storefronts on a -- one block, and therefore, it really inhibits the ability for that commercial corridor to start to thrive because they own so many storefronts, and they're vacant on one block. and so i just think that we should also be calculating a concentration, because that has a different sort of negative impact on a commercial corridor. >> i think that's have i true, which is why when we apply some of our programs in very specific areas, during the presentation, i made mention
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that the data is one thing, but then, also, the on the ground research is another when coupled of local preferences and community perception about what's important to their neighborhood, the blocks around or where they visit. that's certainly where we actually place or encourage events to take place is important. it's why when we couple the certain improvement programs that we try to cluster them as much as we can. when those are found to be cumbersome, we adapt those programs, but absolutely, i think the concentration factor is something that we do definitely take into account. >> supervisor fewer: and then, i noticed that in this research project that we're doing, i -- i think this is on page 16. it says, some of the conclusions -- and this is conclusion number three, implications -- is limiting ground floor retail requirements for new development to the strongest locations for retail could help reduce potential vacancies, so
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could you give me some examples of that? >> certainly. did you want to -- i'm going to ask sarah graham to come up from strategic economics. >> supervisor fewer: thank you very much. >> thank you. >> hi. sarah graham from strategic economics. >> supervisor fewer: hi. >> so what we're referring to there is new requirements for ground floor retail, as you describe some of the corridors or districts might be rather large or several blocks long and requiring ground floor retail on every piece of that corridor might be too difuse, so there might be places in a district that are more strong locations for our retail, and perhaps retail could be required in those locations. but in other locations that may be weaker will not be appropriate locations for new
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retail. >> supervisor fewer: okay. >> does that explain it? >> supervisor fewer: yeah. >> okay. >> supervisor fewer: got it. and then i have another question for oewd, when you said you help with relocation in my businesses, in my district where small businesses have been there for 30 or 40 years, and now there's a new landlord, and the landlord wants to jack up the rent five times to what they're paying, and they have to relocate, but these are stores that are actually on -- it's such a fine line to making it every month, i'm wondering, so do you help with relocation costs? >> we have not helped with relocation costs, but we do help in terms of both free legal services, in terms of the lease. if you define a relocation as finding a neighborhood where our programs could be applied to a facade or improvement, to help make shelves more warm or to help improve a site for
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them, we can help them there. we can help them up linking, depending on the type of business it is, to help them with the bureaucracy that's around there. >> supervisor fewer: okay. thank you. >> thank you. supervisor stephanie. >> and thank you, the need for calling this extremely important hearing. thank you today to bla, oewd and planning to those presentations. i'm just thinking over the 17 years that i've lived in cal hollow, i was thinking about all the different businesses, you know, i just want to say
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it's not just the loss of goods or services in the store when a business goes out of business, but these are the relationships that are developed over time, and these are heartbreaking losses to the community. i'm fortunate in pacific heights we have one of the lowest vacancy rates in the city. chestnut street is also thriving, but i also represent sacramento street and union street, which have their own unique challenges, and recently there was a story on socket site, and it detailed about 20 vacancies on union street. i was to ask oewd on some of these have a cannies and how long some of these pending businesses have been stuck in these processes while pending approval. >> certainly. we can get you that information in a more granular way. right now, i believe the union street we cover from vanness to steiner, and then from fillmore
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to lombard, that's about 7%, but we can give you the length of time those vacancies have been in place, when a business changed hand or if it is or is not vacant currently or whether or not it actually has its doors open for business. >> and just one more question for dbi. as we're in the budget process right now, i'm just wondering what kind of data it has to identify the vacant and abandoned property. this is obviously an extremely important issue facing our neighborhood and commercial corridors. i'm just wondering if we can get a sense of exactly what we're looking at and exactly what resources would be needed to tackle this problem. >> having been brought into this issue at the end of last week, i don't think i have a
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deep sense of the specificity of what you would need from our department. however, i can see, having heard testimony and having read the analyst's report that we are looking to leverage what reports already are in place, and as was mentioned earlier, the oewd, the focus on those 24 business corridors would be a starting point to build at least our internal database so that we can make sure that we have, within our own staff, give them task charges and try to have measurables available as we progress. so i've already seen that report, and we can -- i would say i can identify about six corridors that could be
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addressed immediately, utilizing whether it's oewd or other resources is to document the ones that are already not in our system, and those would be the ones that are complaint driven. so now we're talking about our staff having to get out there in the neighborhood. and again, it's a challenge for a department because we have a limited number of code enforcement inspectors, and we do have to handle all other code enforcement related cases that have to do with permitted -- either they were exceeded or a permit was not taken out for a project, and we have quite a few complaints that we have to handle in those. i have a sense of what we do because i am a hearing officer for the code enforcement cases, and by and large, majority of
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them are going, have been, and will continue to be related to construction. construction either exceeding permit scopes or exceeding the description that's provided or no permits at all, and those are complaint driven, and that maintains quite a good amount of our staff time being devoted to just handling that. this additional objective that we will place with a goal of bringing in a better understanding of our enforcement and the efficacy of our enforcement will be something we have to ask the department director for inspection services to consider. but that is not my program. i'm in charge of it. like i said, he's on vacation. but this is all available. it's all recorded. he will have all this available
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to him, and our executive team will meet and discuss this and take a look at a holistic approach to this so that we do bring about some changes that are also measurable. >> okay. another question? >> and this is for planning. just, you know, one more point i just wanted to make when i've seen businesses try to go through the cu process, and sometimes it takes so long, and they're paying rent the entire time and they call us, and can you please get us on the planning commission calendar. you know, i'd really like to work on some processes around to make sure they're not waiting around and paying rent while we wait for a hearing an cu planning. if there's something we can put in place to fast track that, that's something i'd like to look at. >> yes, supervisor, that's a complaint we do have often from the supervisor's office and applicants. we do have a program called cb
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three peat. if you do meet certain criteria, with you expedite your petition. not all uses meet that petition. if you're massage use, formula retail, we don't expedite those. it is a limited program, but we have had success with it. we are looking for ways to speed that up, especially for smaller businesses. >> okay. any other further questions, comments? i think there's a lot of work we're going to have to do internally on this issue. at this point, i'm going to turn it over to public comment. if not, if i don't call your name, just come on up. anyone who wants to come up and
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speak, please come to the podium. >> good afternoon, supervisor, first of all, i'd like to say congratulations to supervisor tifani for being appointed to district 2. i think you can do a fabulous job, and thank you for being there. >> it's actually pronounced stephanie. >> supervisor stephanie. >> and second, thank you to oewd for doing such an excellent job on the report of the status of retail business in san francisco. as we all know, the -- for the longest time, small businesses really relied on pot traffic, and we're feeding coming -- foot traffic, and we're feeding coming off the on-line retail sales. foot traffic has dropped off,
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so the thing is how do you bring foot traffic back in. one of the things is if you have vacant storefronts, they create blight. not only that, but you don't get the foot traffic you normally would have if you didn't have these blighted places. i was fortunate to be out with may mayor lee the friday before he passed away at the excess i don't remember. he said look at these beautiful storefront windows. they were all decorated. he said couldn't we do that with all of the storefronts, couldn't we work with oewd to get artwork in them, put displays in them, and i really think that would help. i just want to say the businesses that have been surviving are because they've had to be creative, but having events, and by having pop ups.
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>> thank you very much. next speaker, please. >> good evening. i represent the castro business district which streechs along market street from octavia to castro and then to 19th is a thriving and creative residential district and we are open for business. despite some of the pressures afflicting neighborhoods across the city, we're struggling with a 17 to 18% vacancy rate. over the past five years we've addressed many problems facing or neighborhood and commercial district. the problem is we need a stick to deal with these few owners who are absent and nonresponsive. they are wreaking havoc on our business landscape. they each have multiple long-term storefronts. it's shifted from mom and pop storefronts that have deep roots in the community to corporate investors who aren't
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connected to our community. they're often abbott other than to collect rents and seek the highest return on their investments. the evna strongly supports more comprehensive and aggressive vacancy fees and penalties. thank you. >> thank you very much. next speaker, please. >> good afternoon, chair tang, supervisors. my name is karen flood. i'm the executive director of the union square business improvement district, and we look forward to working collaboratively with you on this very important issue. union square bid does provide important services to the area, many of which were mentioned earlier in terms of what a management district does. we enhance our public realm to create reasons for public to come downtown and shop. so i really want to thank
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supervisors, fewer, yee and ronen to bring this issue to our attention. it's a really important discussion that we're having today, and thank you to oewd and dbi for the study that we've all done. we create a vibrant hospitality industry downtown. tens of thousands of well paying jobs, and retail managers take pride in their storefront as do property owners, and we want to maintain the area. overall the state of union square is strong. we maintain a 5 to 10% range, although there are pockets as supervisor fewer mentioned earlier, maybe some on the northern side have more vacancies than the southern part of the district. there are many reasons why stores were vacant as were also mentioned today, and we've seen that uptick. right now, we have some of the
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bigger department stores in union square. now we need smaller core plates. we look forward to working with you on this important issue, and look forward to you being part of the discussion. thank you for your time. >> thank you. next speaker, please. >> eileen bokin, president to speak her on my behalf. in this presentation, two implications stood out, could management policies may need to be revisits, and land use policies may need to be modified. this suggests that oewd is promoting current and proposed mta and planning department policies, some of which are controversial. regarding the mta, the small business commission has weighed in on the mission street project. from the dais, commissioner doolye referred to it's an autocratic. the same could be said of the
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mta's terastreet project. two merchants have gone out of business: closer dry cleaning and hunter's thread, such as marchello's restaurant have seen a significant dropoff in business. has this report been vetted before the small business commission or the san francisco council of district merchants associations? my understanding based on today, eithneither has. so this hearing may have been premature. the process could have really started at the council, gone to the small business commission and then followed by the board of supervisors. >> thank you. next speaker please. >> good afternoon, supervisors. j.d. workman representing the san francisco chamber of commerce. i also want to thank you for
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having this hearing today. we at the chamber and me in particular have been working on this issue for many, many years, and i'm very interested to see that it's coming up again because i'm aware of the vacancy rates in our neighborhood commercial district, so i feel that the numbers that were given today don't just really capture the crisis that we're in when it comes to filling our retail spaces in our neighborhood and keeping them in our retail commercial corridors. and some of those vacancies, they last for months and years, so i'm not sure that it really captures that. i think that what we haven't really heard a lot of today is how time-consuming and expensive it is to actually get a retail permit in san francisco, and i -- fore formula retail, but for other retailers, as well, and i think there is such a degree of uncertainty with it when you don't even know at the end of
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the day after months or maybe a year of going through the process whether you're even going to be able to go into that space, that it -- it's very discouraging for potential retailers to come into our neighborhood commercial corridors, so i hope that we're going to be taking a look at expediting the process to increase the certainty and enable retailers to be able to get in as quickly as possible. also, i think flexiblity is key, and i heard a lot of that today. and i -- i think it's -- with the changing conditions of retail in the city and in the country, i think it's very important that a diversity of uses be able to go into ground floor commercial spaces, including professional services. and one of your colleagues, supervisor peskin has been promoting legislation that would restrict that. we would really encourage diversity. >> thank you very much. next