Jan 15, 2024
63 min
Episode 10

We Are San Francisco: 'Uplifting Small Business' with Katy Tang, Teddy Kramer and Ben Bleiman

Ben Kaplan  00:00

Hey, BART Rider. Hey San Francisco. I'm Ben Kaplan and this is the podcast where we define who we are and who we want to be. We are diverse. We are innovative, we are inclusive. We are change makers, problem solvers, activists, leaders,

Ben Bleiman  00:17

citizens. We are open minded, optimistic, because hope for a better tomorrow and you and you and you got to get in the hole.

Ben Kaplan  00:26

This is the podcast. That's more than a podcast for Cisco. They are the world champion. We are San Francisco.

Ben Kaplan  00:40

Hey San Francisco.

Ben Kaplan  00:41

Today I'm excited to share our very first live podcast events. A discussion on uplifting small business that we recently held at the Neon co working space on Union Street. Our All Star panel featured three noteworthy community leaders. First, Katy Tang, Executive Director of San Francisco's Office of Small Business. That's the central governing body for San Francisco businesses with less than 100 employees. Katy previously served as a San Francisco Board of Supervisors member for District Four, and also in then Mayor Gavin Newsom is administration in the office of public policy and finance. Second, Meet Ben Bleiman, founder of the SF bar owner Alliance and president of the San Francisco entertainment commission. Ben has owned many notable bars and restaurants in the city and has a unique perspective on what helps and hurts new establishments. Finally, a big hello to Teddy Kramer, founder of Neon and co founder of many community efforts to help neighborhood small businesses like North Beach delivers, and small business bogey. So how does San Francisco's bureaucracy first approach get in the way of small business success?

Ben Kaplan  01:50

And what inefficiencies are right for the fixing? Let's find out with our All Star panel.

Ben Kaplan  02:01

To my right is Katy Tang, say Hey, Katy. Katy. Okay, there you go. Katy, who is the head of the Office of Small Business for the city of San Francisco, also a former Board of Supervisors member. And when I was talking to Teddy, about let's do this event, Teddy will meet in a second here. He's the owner of the space, we're in Neon. And he's like, ah,

Ben Kaplan  02:23

we gotta get Katy. Oh,

Ben Kaplan  02:25

yes, we need to get Katy, if we do this, then let's get Katy. And she is here. So Katy, is there anything else you want to say about your role, people who don't know what the Office of Small Business does for San Francisco, just to so we can understand what your day to day looks like and how you drew up on your experience previously on the board of

Katy Tang  02:41

supervisors? Well, I'm here joined by several members of my really incredible team. So for those listeners, out there, they are the true stars here at the office, small business, because every day what they do is we try to get out of the way for the entrepreneurs who want to achieve their dreams and starting a business in San Francisco. So we tried to help you with anything we can at any stage of your journey. So that's in a nutshell, we are trying to help. Okay,

Ben Kaplan  03:06

there you go. We'll talk about that. One of the themes that we've discussed in this show in the context of San Francisco city government is to what extent do people view the city government as a blocker or an impediment to progress or goals or success? And to what extent do we view the city as a champion, our supporter, our biggest cheerleader? And is it possible to sort of maybe cross that divide? So next, I'd like to introduce Ben Bleiman, then you are a president of the San Francisco entertainment commission, and also the owner, I've lost track, but I think at one time, as many as 11 bars and restaurants in the city now I want to say five, is that correct? Tell us a little bit about what your role is on the entertainment Commission and the specific restaurants bars you have if you wouldn't mind talking to Mike. So we get you in the podcast and meet up Meet Ben say, Hey, Ben,

Ben Bleiman  04:01

can you hear me? So yeah, so I've had 11 bars in the last 15 years. And for the better part of that time, I've been started as kind of a nightlife specific advocate in the city and then kind of expanded in the last six or seven years to kind of small business in general. Currently, we have zero bars. Okay, but we're buying a new ones Harringtons down on Front Street, and we're going to bring back Harrington's and I have three dispensaries. I also run a community benefit district. So I'm the executive director of discover Polk, which is the middle Polk area. And I won't complicate your lives by explaining what community benefit districts are, but they are really awesome. And there's 18 of them in the city. And they do interesting, incredible work and they're taxpayer funded. So they're, they're pretty amazing. But in the last six or seven years, I've been on the forefront of a number of pieces of legislation and ballot measures in order to help thing is in San Francisco be less hostile? I would like to say to be more awesome, but I just say less hostile toward small businesses in general. So that's kind of my background.

Ben Kaplan  05:10

Okay, great. And, and we will talk a little bit about community benefit districts and what should be the role of them. So great to have you here. And finally, last but not least, Teddy. Now we can actually introduce you, Teddy Kramer, owner of Neon Co-Working space, we're on Union Street here in San Francisco. Also, you've had a bunch of other I would just call them like passion projects, especially during the pandemic, to help small businesses help restaurants just like stay afloat, do it, you can rally your friends, great example of residents just doing things. You don't need a title. You just do it, starting things. Talk about your background with Neon, you've been open for a few months now and what your interest is enroll in the city? Well,

Teddy Kramer  05:53

first and foremost, thanks for taking me up on the invitation of hosting the podcast here and during your first live podcast. We were just going and big thanks to Katy and Ben for taking the risk and sitting on this panel tonight. First and foremost, welcome to the audience here. You know, it's interesting, you brought up and talked about those people who've lived in San Francisco and kind of wanted to get involved but never did. I was one of those people. I moved here in 2015 to work for a tech company and for four years, I had no involvement in the city. I was just one of those people who went downtown every day. I had my drinks in North Beach, I went out on my dates on Polk Street and I maybe could have told you who the mayor was, I couldn't even one of the 11 board members of the Board of Supervisors, I didn't know who the amazing kidding time was at the time. Then the pandemic hit. And for those of you know me, I am an extrovert. I do not like to be alone. And the pandemic hit and I just had to get involved. I knew if I stayed inside every single day, I would be in big trouble. And I had some good friends in North Beach, I was trying to start up me and I quit my job in 2018. I spent all of 2019 alone in my apartment working, it's not any fun. And 2020 happens we hit the pandemic. And a good friend of mine named Danny Salter, who is the president of the North Beach neighbor says, Hey, we're starting a small business group. And we want to figure out how we can support businesses in North Beach. And we all came to the idea that we were going to start essentially a volunteer food delivery program in North Beach. We call it North Beach deliver. So every Thursday night, we picked a different restaurant in North Beach. And we did volunteer delivery. So we would do all the marketing for the restaurant. We got them off the apps for one night. So no Uber Eats no DoorDash. And we would do all the marketing, we bring in all the orders, the restaurant would collect all the payment and we would jump on bikes, we got bikes donated to us, we'd have a few people walking one or two people driving in cars. And in one year, we generated over $250,000 in gross revenue, all the tips, all the revenue sticker stuff with the restaurant with 50 unique businesses across North Beach, Russian Hill and Chinatown and help a lot of places we think stay in business in that short amount of time. Because it especially in a country like North Beach, that's a cash only neighborhood. That's not a neighborhood that is used to doing going through the transition of moving to UberEATS that quickly. And it was amazing to see how a community could band together and support small business. And as I was working to get me out off the ground. I just actually I know exactly how small business biggest started. It's because of Ben blindman been blind and calls me in December of 2021. Because at that time if you remember that all these flashmob robberies happening all around the city, particularly in Union Square. And Ben says I got this great idea. We're not going to do flash mob robberies, we're going to do flash mob buyouts, we're going to show up to a business, and we're going to buy him out in an hour. I said what a great idea. But when you starting his I'm not starting it, you're starting it. Great, thanks, Panthers. You know, just another thing on my plate. It took me about seven or eight months. But in the fall of 2022, we started the Small Business buggy. Every month, we picked a different neighborhood. And we did a small business crawl, and we did it to disco. And we would play disco. And in every half hour we would visit a different business that would do a one night only deal, we would always finish off at a bar and I was crazy enough to buy drinks for all the group. And we would do a raffle at the end, every business would throw a gift card out. And in seven, eight months, we visited seven different committees including Union Street right here, we actually did justice block. And we generated over $25,000 in revenue for all these small businesses. And the best part was because San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods, right. And a lot of times we don't leave our neighborhoods, but it was so great to get folks to visit another commercial district that they hadn't visited. It was so great to pull people from North Beach and bring them to Clement Street or people from elementary to Kota Chinatown, or to Union Street or to Fillmore Street. And really kind of show them how unique the city is and how each commercial district has its unique flair has its own kind of, you know, vibe and energy. And also we would tell the stories of these businesses because sometimes you pass a lot of these places and you don't even know the background and the story behind them. And once you do you get connected and you really feel love for them. First question that I wanted to kind of pose to the panel is are we moving in the right direction for small business there's been so some sense that we're kind of out of the pandemic, we're doing a census right now. And in every person who fills out the census, and if you're here today, get a copy of the census, there's a question on there. We said, yes or no small businesses in your neighborhood are doing well. And what I want to say is, we're

Ben Kaplan  10:14

in the midst of the census, we're not really seeing results, but we go to certain neighborhoods where we have an events, and we get a whole lot of noes. And people don't feel like they're doing well. But is that correct? What do you think? And Katy, first of all, with you pick up the microphone, so we can we can get you in the podcast. But are we headed in the right direction now for small business? Or are we in the wrong direction? And actually have to reverse?

Katy  10:37

I think I could answer that in a couple different ways. I mean, one is just looking at factual information around changes in sales, tax data, you know, pre pandemic to now. And of course, we see everyone in every neighborhood pretty much is is down compared to pre pandemic times, some better than others, right? So factually speaking, right, everyone is struggling with the foot traffic, as well as the changing nature of retail, right? Like, everyone is shopping online, these days, it's just much more convenient. The price of goods is going up for everyone. So if you're a consumer, or even if you're the business owner, right, the cost of everything is just going up. So it's more challenging. So from that perspective, it has been difficult it still is, and people are still recovering. But from another perspective, having spent probably too much time in government, I have seen this as an incredible opportunity, where we have been able to push forward changes that I never would have thought would have been possible. So meaning how can we remove more of the bureaucracy in the process in government so that again, we could step out of the way and help facilitate businesses opening up and doing what they want to do exercising their creativity.

Ben Kaplan  11:47

So you're talking like a program like first year free or something like that, that, you know, makes a lot of the licensing costs, permitting fees others for the first year of a business, right has been a recent program, something like that would be an example, right,

Katy  12:01

I never would have imagined that the city would have universally adopted this right, and unanimously across the board, to waive all the permit fees. We also currently have pending legislation to change the zoning throughout the entire city, probably the most aggressive rezoning effort ever to make it easier for people to both existing and new businesses to do what they want to do in San Francisco. And so all of these things, I think, again, like, what is the saying, like, don't waste a good opportunity, or whatever it is, don't let a crisis go to waste. So I see that happening. And I'd love to see us continue to build that momentum. And hopefully, when things get better that we don't reverse direction, then go the opposite. So that's that's what we're working on at the moment.

Ben Kaplan  12:45

Ben blindman, I'd love your perspective on this. Because specifically, you've called out and I think because you've had dispensaries and those kinds of businesses that can be target for crime, like this idea of small business break ins talk about that, cuz I know you're concerned about that. Does that mean we're going in the wrong direction? Is there progress through? How do you see it? Because I know small business break is a huge issue for

Ben Bleiman  13:05

you. So I'm just gonna back up for a second, just to semi answer the first question, then I'll get to that. So San Francisco has always had a part of our values is that we haven't always lived up to our values. But if people are doing well, we always expect them to pay their fair share. That's San Francisco values. It's not a winner take all I'm doing well get out of my my life situation. And so for literally decades and decades and decades, before the internet before all the changes that we've seen way before COVID, small businesses in San Francisco were viewed as kind of they had a captive audience, everybody had to come to them. And this city sort of slowly, over decades, kind of asked for them to give more and more and more and contribute more and more and more to the general fund and the tax base and all the things that we love the firefighters and the schools and the homelessness and everything. When the internet came along. And things in San Francisco started to change really quickly, the city took a long time to adapt to online retail and to especially for retail because they're the ones who are kind of fighting against the tidal wave of online retail. And unfortunately, the city didn't come around fast enough. It kind of reminds me of taxi cabs, where everybody was left with medallions that were worth $400,000.02 years earlier. And then were worth nothing because Uber came along, right. And so I you know, way pre pandemic, I started ringing the alarm and saying you need to start focusing on small businesses and the analogy I use in the metaphors that we use to treat them like weeds, right? Like they just grow like if a small business went out of business. And I heard literally heard politicians who are still in office now 10 years ago, 15 years ago, say it doesn't matter if something's vacant, right? Like somebody else move in there. That's the free money archy that you're so crazy about, which I'm not crazy about, but they'd always say that and they would just assume that it would come back. And it went from weeds to like bonsai trees, right where you have to like, trim them every day and take care of them and make sure the pH balance is right and the vinegar and the watering.

Ben Kaplan  15:17

Is that necessary for a bonsai tree. Do you have to get the no idea? Okay, I didn't know if that was actually a tip. You don't know if you feel through the page, right? But it seems plausible. It seems plausible. Bonsai

Ben Bleiman  15:26

tree part like the Gremlin, the malgoire Gremlins, okay, these are like there's rules, and you need to like really take care of them. But so what I was trying to get across for years was way pre pandemic is Don't mistake a business that looks like it's busy for a healthy business right in the city of San Francisco. And we saw it coming and we're screaming like this, these pandemic hits. And we did have a once in a generational probably opportunity to make changes, fundamental changes. Were all of a sudden, people who never ever, ever were supportive of small business changes to zoning to planning to the landlord. So all the things that affect us, we're open and on board with making big changes, right? So completely agree with Katy, this is a huge opportunity right now. But it's something that we that we're trying to solve problems that started 1015 years ago, minimum. Right. So that said, getting down to the current situation in San Francisco. So I think, well, I don't think I believe very strongly that we're about to rocketship up. I don't know if it's going to be one year, three years, or six months. But I feel like we kind of hit the bottom right. And I feel like there's something about San Francisco, we got aI investing. I don't know if everybody saw that. Open AI just resigned the gigantic lease, I think it was yesterday or the day before, right? We have this huge influx of new businesses. People want to be here, we just need to kind of clear the way for him. So there's an opportunity right now, one gigantic thing that's happening, that people are not aware of is that I think we have seen public safety in general get a little bit better since our darkest time in the last year or two years, right. I think that people are saying, Okay, we've shifted a little bit, it's not so bad. The average people I talked to are like, look, it was worse, and it's better. But it is not for small businesses right now. So small businesses are the targets of constant nighttime robberies, robberies for ATMs, smashing of your windows smashed, some of them are organized, many, many, many are organized, where a crew comes in and cleans you out. Some are just just opportunity where somebody smashes the window and goes and rifle steal your stuff. But I can not an overstate how serious this problem is right now. Just in the last I think four days, I started a group of bar owners. We have 516 of us now all bar owners in the city of San Francisco, we have a private Facebook group. And we just communicate on there. We do not price fix. I erase anybody who's like what are you charging? For Jameson, I'm like, we're not allowed to talk about that. That's antitrust. But I think just in the last week, just in the last three or four days, we've had four or five bars that the the just either car drives to the window or they smashed the front window, they still ATM, they ransacked the place. It's like a different reality for us right now in small business. On the CBD that I run comentary I have one of my dispensaries on. It's just constant every single night somebody gets broken into. So I just want to sound the alarm on that. And it's really hard to solve without enough police. So we don't have enough police. The board is playing shenanigans with staffing police and always making an issue. There are not enough they cannot cover it and we're just sitting ducks. So

Ben Kaplan  18:56

then I think the thing about crime, whatever it is, is that it's like crime is not something where like, if it happens, and there's not a strong response that gets better or it stays the same, usually it gets worse, right? Usually, if there's not action that's rapid and strong. And so to me, in my mind, lots of instances of property crime are hugely problematic, not just for the actual property that was stolen. But property crime unchecked, in my mind leads to many, many other things because it only emboldened

Ben Bleiman  19:28

property crime is equal, right? So people get really fixated on the homelessness and the Fentanyl crisis. And there are many many, many crimes of opportunity where somebody's just like, let me just try to break into that place there. They're kind of like whatever I bet I can score some. A lot of this is organized like highly organized and shut not just in the in the dispensaries. And I've you know, I've talked to the chief of police about this, I'm just sounding the alarm that like it is one thing to have a crisis of addiction on the streets. It's another thing to say we're open to it. For business for literally organized criminals who know that San Francisco is open for business and that a there aren't enough police to chase you down and be they're not allowed to chase you. Right like we put in the our police commission put in all these rules about how you're able to engage and very often the police are looking at and I'm not a police booster right? I'm not out there going let you pro police but I literally see the rules that they have. And they're like, You interpret this for me, right? Like we're not like there was the lookout got the lookout in the Castro famous bar upstairs in the Castro got robbed news two weeks ago, the police pulled up behind the car. The people took out the stuff they said hey, you stop they got in the car and drove away and the police were not allowed to pursue them by our local rules that the police commission put into place and literally not allowed to pursue, right? So they know that they can come here we've created a situation where it's like crime is open for business for organized criminals. And if there's one thing we can get behind as a city is the organized crime isn't okay. Right? Like if you're suffering on the street, we need more compassion. And we're not going to criminalize poverty, all those things we all agree on. I think that's fine, but organized group of people coming in with masks and walkie talkies, and weapons in multiple cars where people jump out and use it. In my case, my dispensary, a metal saw to cut through the door and to gain access in one minute, right? That's not okay. And we need to send that message

Ben Kaplan  21:34

and Teddy. One of the things I think the backstory maybe people don't realize about Neon, where we're sitting now is that the first location you were thinking about was North Beach, and you ran into blockers there, you can share some of those if you'd like or not. But then what is the perspective of someone who's like opening a new business? Now? You're coming to an area now we're on Union Street? Because there's probably upscale, you know, neighborhood of San Francisco, you may have been in a different neighborhood. What is it like? Were you worried about this? Were you worried about crime? What was on your mind as you went through this journey? In your experience with San Francisco, the city?

Teddy Kramer  22:08

To answer your kind of first question to the panel, you know, what's the status of small business? I think, unfortunately, it's a neighborhood thing, right? As you go neighborhood by neighborhood, I think you get a very different perspective. An example is where I live on Clement Street, right? Uncomment Street, in the pandemic, only two businesses closed. That's an insane statistic that shows how healthy the Clemente Merchants Association is how that neighborhood views small business and how they surround themselves around it. Union Street is recovering. I mean, you go from Octavia to Fillmore, there's probably 10 to 15 vacancies. But to my foray into small business when I started Neon tried to start Neon at the end of 2018 through 2019. You know, I kind of went into this whole thing bright eyed and bushy tailed San Francisco's gonna welcomed me with open arms, and everybody wants something like Neon. It really wasn't that way. I have unfortunately had to become an expert in the planning code. I've had to become someone who understands the rules and regulations of the city. And candidly, as a small business owner, it's not always what are the rules, it's how do I work my way either around or kind of bend the rules without breaking them

Ben Kaplan  23:16

underneath over a slight sidestep, it's a little shimmy.

Teddy Kramer  23:20

It's a mix. You Neon isn't isn't unique concept. Unfortunately, if you go through the planning code in a district like North Beach, candidly, innovation keeps in candidly, but honestly, innovation isn't really welcome. The code is so restrictive. But in a place like Union Street, it's pretty much open game. So as I mentioned, it's a city of all these different neighborhoods. And what's so confusing for the average small business owner who doesn't take in for years to look at the planning code and see where does your where's your idea, which is a square peg or their square holes? Or is everything around? Where do you fit? Where are you not going to face either neighborhood opposition or the random person who says I don't know you, therefore I don't like you. There are all of these hurdles you have to jump in jump through. I was fortunate and having that time to build relationships with neighborhood groups. But when I first started back then and didn't have them, I got my hand cut off.

Ben Bleiman  24:16

Can I just jump in one seconds? Yes gets exactly what I was saying. There was a time that the city could afford to operate like that. When small businesses were the businesses that were that were available that everyone that the city needs to understand that that can no longer continue. There are a couple neighbors who don't like your sign outside or don't like your concept that we can't afford any longer to let allow them to just stop your business or bleed you out. If

Teddy Kramer  24:42

we hear these stories throughout the city of this happening. The famous one is the one in the with the cast with the ice cream shop. Right someone tried to open up an ice cream shop and a local competitor 510 Doors Down, filed a discretionary review and delayed that ice cream shop an ice cream shop a year and old Ultimately, that's that was a year of fees and lawyer's rent, no landlord is gonna say, Oh, you're stuck in city process. You don't have to pay rent, the landlord's gonna do that and can and rightfully so, you have a lease you, you have to pay your obligation. But the most important thing that Katy said right when she made her introduction was we're trying to get out of the way. And that's what we need. Get out of the way. So that those of us who are starting things, whether it's a restaurant, a bar, or concept like Neon, let the people in the audience, let the neighbor let the city, the visitor who comes in and let them decide if they want to support your business. Because if it works, fantastic, then you're a San Francisco success story. And if it doesn't, then you're just at least someone who gave it a shot. But it shouldn't be the rules or even worse, someone's opinion that maybe you can open or maybe you can't, but you've got to talk did this person or do you know the right people? Have you talked to that person? It's, it's to me,

Ben Bleiman  25:58

I talked to somebody in North Beach ones, and they were proud, they were bragging to me, they didn't know who I was that they had successfully delayed any business from coming into a small storefront in North Beach, because they and their friends got together and decided that they really needed a shoe repair, you know, like a fancy shoe repair, like a cobbler, I don't know. And they weren't going to hold out. And they held out for like six years, three, six years. And they delayed, they stopped everything going in there. Because we think we need a cobbler. I

Teddy Kramer  26:31

was on a neighborhood Hall in North Beach. And I don't know if you know, Luke's local, which is a fantastic business around the Union Street just opened up in North Beach. And I was on a neighborhood meeting when Luke's local was going for their conditional use. And they said, Oh, I bought for Luke's local opening up, but they shouldn't be allowed to sell coffee. Because we've already got a lot of coffee shops, some of them are of my favorite. And I don't want them competing with my local coffee shop. That's insanity to me. If Luke's local wants to sell coffee, let them sell coffee, and they can compete with the rest of the coffee shops in North Beach. And the one that will win will win. You're referring

Ben Kaplan  27:03

to something about kind of this notion of more flexible permitting, right, which is like not just for you have a permit for this very specific use, and you can't do other things like you have a co working space. And maybe maybe you want to sell some coffee, maybe you think that might be a nice value add. And I think the hard part about regulations. And the way I describe San Francisco is good intentions with unintended consequences is that you have to have perfect vision, if you're going to like have every regulation perfectly crafted for the situation that you can see ahead. And you know exactly what the situation would be if you're going to be that prescriptive. You better have amazing foresight and vision and can predict the future.

Teddy Kramer  27:44

I'm a lot more cynical on that. Okay. I think I think it's I think in many ways it's intended, I think there are certain neighborhoods throughout the city. And I think we all probably know without saying it, that intentionally have restrictive zoning because they do not want change. They want the same businesses that have been there for 50 years to just stay there. And that if something new comes in, it's threatens those legacy businesses. And unfortunately, I think the planning code and certain legislation has been weaponized to prevent change from coming to these communities. And you see, neighborhoods like the hate or or or neighborhoods like inner Richmond that have adopted things like flexible retail, which was passed by the amazing Katy Tang. And for those who don't know what flexible retail is, it allows you to combine multiple retail uses in a space. So a bookstore that sells coffee, a record shop that sells ice cream, combining your noncontroversial for virtual uses allows us to innovate. Half of the city prevents us from doing that. And that's a choice. neighborhoods have chosen to not allow us to be innovative. So to me, I don't think it's like, oh, this


thing happened. Oh, I

Teddy Kramer  28:50

can't believe it's been misused. I think it's intentional. I think that over the last 20 years, there has been as Ben said, like things were going great. We have the opportunity, you know, something will just come in. I think now the chickens have come home to roost and those decisions to kind of curb the rise of business in a sense. We're not paying the price.

Ben Kaplan  29:11

Want to join our movement to get San Francisco back on track and

Ben Kaplan  29:15

attend a we town hall event or stop by our popular we happy our meetups. Better yet, join our data team takes the census or help us audit the city budget. To join the movement. Text us at 415301 6700. That's 415-301-6700 or learn more at WWE San francisco.org.

Ben Kaplan  29:41

Katy, one a question for you is from your perspective is there's a lot of focus now on downtown revitalization and make sense, right. It's the economic engine of the city. We want a healthy downtown, but I was just talking to different you know, small business owners on Geary Street, not in downtown and they were frustrated by this idea of like, we're prioritized so much. And we've got to revitalize downtown. What about there's a lot of areas that are not by prioritizing downtown, are we d prioritizing everywhere else.

Katy  30:13

I mean, I would say that there's probably been a lot of media attention around downtown. And obviously, as you stated, the economic engine and where all the tourists, you know, probably is one of their prime destinations. And they're, you know, what happened to them during the pandemic has really impacted the city overall, right. It's not just an impact downtown, so So I totally understand the sort of focused public attention on it. But that doesn't mean that efforts aren't happening every day. And including the work of, I would say, our office to help support businesses and entrepreneurs who want to go and either start a new business or expand in our surrounding neighborhoods, that's just as important. And so I just want to put a plug in for our office services, because they are amazing at trying to, again, help everyone throughout the entire city, I mean, every single day, we're seeing I'm

Teddy Kramer  31:05

a direct beneficiary of the Office of Small Business, I truly say that,

Katy  31:09

yes. And so, you know, we really want to hear from from entrepreneurs early on, before you sign a lease before you pull that permit. If you're just thinking through ideas, like come see our amazing permitting team, we have two dedicated permit specialists, here to just help you through that entire journey to understand and help you roadmap what exactly you need, right? So that you don't get tripped up in the process or to help you, you know, speed along through. We have a wonderful team at City Hall who help you with anything from you know, your business registration and getting started. And every single day. And we see an average about almost 200 new business registrations in San Francisco on average each week over the last rolling 12 month average. That these are people who are choosing to invest in San Francisco, in all sorts of neighborhoods, throughout the entire city. And so, again, certainly there's a lot of media attention around downtown, but every single day, we are we are supporting neighborhoods, we're seeing people do really creative things, where they're, you know, they're organizing farmer's markets, they're organizing art walks, and so forth, to try to bring more people to those neighborhoods. And we certainly want to support them with that. Also put sorry, one more plug in. We last year launched a refresh campaign called shop, dine SF, and really trying to highlight all the different neighborhoods again, throughout the city. So if you go to sf.gov/explore SF, we are trying to and they still work in progress, but really highlight for visitors and locals, all the great unique shops and experiences that you can explore on your own in San Francisco. So we're trying to do everything we can to draw people to all of our local neighborhoods.

Ben Bleiman  32:56

Can I just say one thing quick about downtown. So San Francisco downtown funds, almost literally everything that we care about in the city. Now we can make the argument that the City Hall budget has doubled over the last 10 years and that the services have gotten worse. In fact, I've made that argument many times. But even that kind of out of control, budget growth aside, we cannot survive without a thriving downtown. And this is not just because I'm buying a bar downtown right now. But so you know, this kind of zero sum game thinking it's it's understandable from local merchants. But if if you think a little more, and you learn a little bit more, at least the conclusion that I have gathered is that we all need to focus on downtown immediately, unless we want to stop paying teachers, right and stop paying firefighters and things that are like desperate pension funds, like all these things that actually really matter dearly. So yeah, I just wanted to just share to offer a little color there. The

Ben Kaplan  34:01

other comments that I get from small business owners is that, you know, when we all came together during the pandemic, and got things done, to your point, Katy, that we didn't think we could get done. Why go back and reset to the way things were now that we're coming out. And here's an example that one kind of restaurant owner gave me that they were debating whether to do a parklet. They had to do the parklet. They followed to the letter, all the rules to sort of build the parklet and got a really nice one done. They did it for the pandemic and they spent 1000s of dollars to do it. And then now that we're coming out, the city adjusted, the rules changed. The rule says okay, it's not going to cost you know, it's not going to be free anymore. It's going to be you know, I forget what the number is, but like 6000 to $10,000 have the parklet and by the way, yours is now too big. And so you've got to reduce it. And they concluded that they went to all this they followed the rules regulations, they did so Something that they were supposed to do. They thought the city was behind them. And now they're like, basically, the only choice we have we think, is to tear down the parklet. And they said, Well, why? If we all came together? Why go back to bureaucracy and rules and all this stuff? Why don't just keep it like that? Especially if it's if it's really hurting small businesses. So I don't that's just one specific story. But I don't know if you have a response to that, where sometimes people feel like they follow the rules, and then the rules change, and they're penalized, even though they did exactly what they were supposed to do.

Ben Bleiman  35:27

Yeah, I think each one is separate. I mean, I was on the we were on the frontlines of the Parkland battles when we were trying to get the permanent rules put in. And, unfortunately, just very specifically, the fire department had serious concerns about the new parklets after the emergency ones. I didn't understand those concerns, I still do not understand those concerns. They they were they did not budge on those. And the end result is that parklets have to be shrinked and are shrank, shrunken. And i Honey, I Shrunk The parklets. There you go. Yeah, I'm still I'm still kind of upset about that. Because we could not get a straightforward answer from the fire department on why they wanted them to come in three feet on each side, and why we couldn't change the roofs, etc. My my gut was that they didn't like him to begin with, right. And so but that's just me speculating. So the new parklets that are allowed are different than the old parklets. And if anybody wants a new one, you have to then go and make 1000s and 1000s of dollars worth of changes

Teddy Kramer  36:33

I'll say about the park was because in somewhere like North Beach, right, parklets exploded during the pandemic. And it was such an amazing thing. And I think people for the most part, love them. So many restaurants have been able to add extra seating, which obviously increases revenues and allows you to do more covers to meet one of the interesting quotes I heard from a restaurant in North Beach was during the pandemic was we're working twice as hard for half the money. And it really painted an interesting picture of how hard it was specifically for the restaurant industry. When you're all of a sudden, one day, it's like a restaurants closed, nobody can come inside. And then this opportunity opens up and says, Hey, you can do outdoor dining now. And you can take over 123 Maybe four parking spots and create this new form of seating. But the thing that felt weird was the message was, this is your forever. At least that's the message I heard. This is your forever, we'll make it work for you. And it feels like that promises kind of not being kept.

Katy  37:26

Well, I think that the parklet situation just really highlights what you know. And even me as someone working in city government feels is wrong with city government is that you do have a lot of people who, you know, they might have studied engineering, they they're a trained firefighter, they, they have their areas of focus and expertise, and they're just implementing what they've learned and been trained to do and not think about the bigger picture around well, this decision means that it'll cost this bar owner, you know, $30,000 to rebuild a parklet. And I can't just shave off three feet of my parklet actually take it down and rebuild it right. We

Ben Bleiman  38:02

always go to the blood will be on your hands argument that people will die really quickly, like you will you want people to die and you're like No, but can we just have the parklet? Right there, right? Yeah.

Ben Kaplan  38:14

Let me throw out one other example. And I'm looking at the kind of licensing rates right now. 2324 for different businesses in the city. If you want to open up a cooking school, it's $658 if you want to have a be called a billiard parlor, I don't know who anyone who calls that anymore. This might be an older thing, but it's $220 for billiards, and auto record $719 a public bath house $649 If you want to have a dance hall $619. If you want to be a pawnbroker, that's $782. These are licensing fees. They're not 1000s of dollars, but there are additional expenses there barriers should the city hobbies is just another form just another obstacle to opening up a small business and why are we picking certain ones? Why are we singling out billiard halls and not other types of businesses relic from

Ben Bleiman  39:06

a previous time when small businesses were a dime a dozen and they were thriving in the city just like with taxi cabs was like, Okay, it's time to share, right? I completely agree that that's the most archaic, insane, dumb thing ever. There should be a very small charge, that they're all charged $250 or $150 for some sort of processing fee. But on the other side, and Katy and Teddy can probably talk about this. Some of the departments have begun to rely on some of this income. I don't think it represents a huge portion of their overall operating budget, but they already feel like they're underfunded for what they need to accomplish. They feel like they are not set up for success. And then they're the first people thrown under the bus when things don't work. And when you come after them and say oh, we're just trying to cut $2 million from your budget or $3 million. They think about the actual individuals that They're gonna have to fire and all the work that they have to do. And so we've gotten ourselves in quite a bureaucratic conundrum here that

Katy  40:06

Yeah, so I mean, the permit fees, you know, they're based on how much supposedly staff time it'll take to review something right to evaluate your, your architectural drawings or that permit application. And so, of course, they're not going to want to, you know, when I say other, they have meaning, like these permitting agencies don't want to reduce these fees, because that'll impact right how many people they can hire and all of that. But I think the solution really is that we need to make the process more efficient, right, we need to have very simplified applications and not require a whole host of things that then require a whole lot of staff time to review. And that way we could really get make it easier for both the applicants as well as hopefully the people reviewing them.

Ben Kaplan  40:46

I want to move on but one potential solution. And I know, even before this, Teddy was texted me solutions, I know you got a lot here collectively in the panel, but one of them that would maybe come from more of the private sector, how you would usually approach this is there's something called in the private sector, like a user flow, all a user flow really is is what is the experience of a person going through this, let's go in their shoes and say, How many offices do they need to go to? Where do they need to go? How do they get information? And you just track it through? And you say, Okay, if you have to go to 14 different offices to figure this out, and you have to have X number of conversations? Can we streamline that improve that because you put yourself in their shoes? Is that a viable option? City government? Can we just do like, let's just experience whether it's small businesses, whether it's a person who is on verge of homelessness, and just need some support to make a rent payment, so they won't be evicted, and they need it in five days. And it's $500. And it could save the city $40,000 per year and services if they become homeless? If we just put ourselves in their shoes, map the user flow and tried to simplify it. Is that a solution?

Teddy Kramer  41:52

I mean, I think you're referring to the conversation I brought up about ministerial approval, right? The idea that these are the rules of the game, follow the rules of works. That's it, just just work through the checklist. At the end, that's what we're trying to do for housing, that's what someone like Scott wiener is doing is saying, Hey, if you want to build housing, just follow the rules, and it just works. Right now, as a small business owner, I don't really think it's a perspective, it's just the way it works. It's discretionary. If you walk in to get a permit one day, or to get approved for something, you are at the discretion of who's at that desk. And just to give you a little context, does anyone know what a permit expediter is. So for those who couldn't hear, in podcast land, someone said, it's someone you bribe to help you get a permit. And while it sounds like a joke, it's more reality than it is a joke. The fact that we have people whose profession is I get paid to help you get your permit shows you what's wrong with the system. It says that if you don't know what you're doing, hire this for lack of a better term goon to go to someone and tell you who to go to at what day and time so you can get your permit. And that's what happens, every single general contractor I've met, who will, helping you with different projects around the city is that, oh, if we don't get the permanent Tuesday, don't worry, just go back on Wednesday, there'll be someone different. So you're at the discretion of someone. And if they woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or they had a bad morning, you might be having the worst day of your life for your business.

Ben Bleiman  43:14

So one idea to clean up the bureaucracy and make it easier and more streamlined for small businesses is just to put something forward that is just incredibly bold, wipe the slate clean and start over with some sort of calculated way of determining how to do it based on science and research and other cities and what would work best here, etc. So for those

Teddy Kramer  43:35

who are housing, dorks like me out there, things like SQL, get weaponized. And people will say, hey, like, we're gonna use SQL against you. But if you use our labor union, if you use this certain group, we are nonprofit, what happens? Oh, that's correct, right. And that's the thing is that these, these, and you brought it up earlier than the idea that we've some times, laws, ordinances, all these things have been done with good intentions. And then they're immediately weaponized, and it hurts the people, I'll say, you know, who are just trying to open up a small business or trying to build housing or do all those things, and then been blind and brought it up? Because I think it's the legacy. It's, you know, it's, I mean, a perfect example is formula retail in the city, which was passed in 2003. The world hasn't evolved in 20 years, it's changed so much, but we still have laws that hurt us so much. And again, it's not, Hey, should we revise a lot? No, no, it's not, let's not revise a law. Let's just figure our way around it. Let's carve in little ordinances that take care of our buddies, but let's not take care of everyone else. So we've created an animal farm like mentality where everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others. And that's just grossly unfair to people who are who should be coming the city. I mean, there's the cliche that San Francisco is the city that knows how or that came from the World's Fair. We are the city that knows how, but we've kind of lost our way a little bit. i It scares me that entrepreneurs Sometimes said, Hey, I'm going to start a business in in San Francisco. And it's all tech. And I'm not anti Tech, I love tech. I came from that industry. But it should be more, there should be more ground floor retail, there should be more in the entertainment industry, there should be more people who say, I'm amazed and amazing chef, the place to start it is San Francisco, we got to get back to that.

Ben Kaplan  45:18

I'd love to get your perspective, Katy, on because you're on the board of supervisors, it was a prior board to the version now. In fact, I think this is true. You were actually like the Interim President of the Board of Supervisors before London breed became president of the board of supervisors after that, which was a stepping stone to her becoming mayor, of course, do you feel like when you are on the board of supervisors, which and for those of you don't know, it's the you know, the legislative body incredibly important for the city of San Francisco? Was the culture different back then? Or was it the same? Because right now it sort of feels like it's at each other's throats? Whether it's the board and the mayor, also, you know, I think even just news in the past couple of days of like, someone proposes an amendment to do something and someone puts a poison pill on that amendment to turn into the opposite of what it was intended. And people are getting mad. And can't everyone just go to Ben blinds new bar and have a drink? And could that solve a lot of our problems? If we all just came together and change the culture of politics here? Well, sadly,

Katy  46:19

I think it'll always be that way. Because you've got, you know, love and people, and then, you know, an executive branch, and everyone's out for their interests, and, you know, their, their own community and their constituency. Right. So I think it'll always be that way.

Ben Kaplan  46:33

But it was It wasn't as bitter when you were on the board and your opinion, it depends on

Katy  46:37

which we're talking about.

Ben Bleiman  46:41

coined the term, it's a knife fight. And

Katy  46:45

so yeah, just depends on any moment. And who, which two or three people are not getting along at that time. So it'll it'll always exist. But I have seen a shift again, with the challenges that, you know, are happening right now that there has been a movement towards, you know, more consensus on things that I again, never would have thought would have been possible. So I just, yeah, I sometimes I do fear a little bit for some of the better times, because then people will revert to their ways of, well, we're gonna go slap on more restrictions and do things, you know, on that bureaucratic way. So I don't know, I don't know if it'll ever get better. But you know, it's politics, right? It's it'll, people will always have their own interests.

Teddy Kramer  47:24

One of my as a small business owner, one of the things that frustrates me about the board composition is, at least as far as I know, of the 11. And I think I've done my homework on this, none of them has been as small business or experienced owning a business. It's either a mix of community organizers, or attorneys, and therefore, the interests of small business are either pushed to the side or they're just not understood. I've actually lobbied I'd say probably three to four of the supervisors about pushing flexible retail, right, that concept I talked about, you know, combining different uses. The scariest part is three or four didn't know that it wasn't allowed in their district, which shows you where it fell on their priority list. And most of them just be like, so what, what's the big idea? Like, who cares? And you know, my silly cliche is, well, small businesses don't vote. And that's why some of the supervisors, they, they talk a big game, but when it comes to putting, you know, the rubber hits the road, and it's time to create change, and changing the city is not doing more for small business legislatively. It's pulling back, it's taking away things so that we can do more things and have more opportunity and be able to experiment. There. They're kind of tone deaf. And I think because they don't, they've never sat in our shoes, they've never put their life savings into a business and gone through the process and see what it's all about. They've worked for somebody else, and that's totally fine. But I think it's really unique to have someone like Katy, who has small business experience, and have seen what we go through even someone like David Chiu who I know has gone through that, because they I mean, when I had David Chiu in the space here, he was like asking me about your performance. And my you know, and that was amazing was so great to talk to someone at City Hall who really understood the nuts and bolts of small business. But that is the exception. It's definitely not the rule. Yeah,

Ben Bleiman  48:59

I think it's important to have constituencies that care about small business because the people who vote most in San Francisco are homeowners, right, and they vote like something like 95% of homeowners actually vote in the city and the next closest is way lower than that. And homeowners are against change. They don't want loud stuff they know what their their neighborhood getting any busier because it's three blocks away and they want it to Quiet quiet and they want a grocery store on every single corner. So definitely, yeah, yeah, grocery store cobblers that love cobblers gotta love. But so yeah, but but I just want to get back to something Katy said because it's easy for her to say because it's kind of her job to say it because she runs an office and they need to be positive. But there is a willingness right now, even with this crazy board we have right which is I would argue not even as crazy as some of the boards we've had right? To do things that just were never on the table before. I am optimist, I don't think it's too little too late. I think the sky's the limit. If we come up with things, but we this is why things like this are really important because we have people who don't own small businesses who get to learn about the issues that we face and then vote that direction or advocate for us in that direction. But I mean, we're talking about flux retail we're talking about, we're literally we got a state law passed called SB 76. Scott wiener put it through, it allows us to have outdoor entertainment zones, the assembly went through the Senate, the Assembly in the state cut out every city in town in California, except for San Francisco. So it's just San Francisco balletto allows us to have open container Alcohol Drinking zones in the city based on how we want to do it locally. And so we're going to be working on this legislation I helped on that my the group I founded Cal might was one of the co sponsors of it. And now we're in City Hall with with the mayor's office and with od WD and others working on how that regimes gonna look. I mean, we could literally have multiple areas in San Francisco, they're like tiny little mini New Orleans is where you can walk outside with a beer, go sit at a table, walk across street, buy another drink, go over here, listen to music without having to get it permitted day in, day out. This is insane. Having done this for 15 years, the fact that this is open and and even this crazy as board is like Hell yeah, SB 76 In my neighborhood, right? Like they're all for it. So it's a different makeup right now there's promise,

Teddy Kramer  51:25

I just want one more thing Ben went, every single person who is going to be running for office is when they talk to them about their small business plan. They're all gonna say, Well, I want vibrant and wonderful commercial corridors, press them on that. What does that mean? What does that mean? If the answer is more regulation, they're in the wrong lane here,

Ben Bleiman  51:43

we can give them a couple cheat sheet items, one flexible retail, don't give them the interest discretion, ask them where they are in discussions.

Teddy Kramer  51:50

But the answer needs to be we need to get out of the way. Because no one is going to have a platform saying we need to regulate more small business, I want less small business and they're all going to say use broad strokes. Oh, I want vibrant and wonderful commercial quarters. Nobody wants empty quarters. No one wants crime and wants homelessness. Press them. What does that mean? How do we get to having more vibrant small business? If the answer is not we're going to get out of the way we're going to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to succeed on their own merits than their fellowship. Sorry for cursing on your butt. Well,

Ben Kaplan  52:20

well, what I would say is my hope. And then I want to go to the end on our lightning round, which we're going to do here in a second so that we can finish up strong, but I would just love not only get out of the way. But I would love to hear someone say You know what? That business sounds amazing. I'm going to be there opening night. I want to tell people about that. I will be your biggest fan, your biggest champion, be your biggest support. I mean, imagine if a politician did that is so surprising. We're like, Wow, amazing. Like they're on my side. And the city needs it. Now what I think the attitude before was a small business was like, Okay, it's good for the economy. It's an admirable thing. Good for you. But now it's like, we need it. We need you like you're doing a service for San Francisco. Okay, let's finish with the lightning round here. Lightning round means 1015 Second answers, we're going to hit some topics here, it'd be hard for me to be a little a little challenging. Here's the first one first lightning round and lay when jumping in any order you want. You are given a magical red pen by the city of San Francisco and you only got one day to use it and you can cross out anything it's absolute no one can stop you and cross out one thing only one thing though with your red pen. What do you cross out in a regulation or

Ben Bleiman  53:29

a rule or somebody's name?

Ben Kaplan  53:34

I'm not gonna put any rules on it. What what is what what is? Everyone know? So you got the magic red pen lightning round quickly. What do you target? What do you cross out?

Katy  53:43

I guess it would be an entire department or multiple.

Ben Kaplan  53:46

Okay, it's hard to parse multiple Okay, can you can you say which departments No. You cannot sell them. Okay, you cannot say but you can you will cross it. You have too many departments. Yes, yes. Okay. Okay, so Katy would cross out departments Teddy Ben what would you cross out magical red pen all unchartered

Ben Bleiman  54:01

commissions in City Hall. Okay commission that's not part of our charter.

Ben Kaplan  54:06

Okay, so anything that commission that just exists in commissions we don't have a lot of time to get into that kind of diffuses power they can shift intense they can cause it harder to get things done okay. Commission's Yeah, Teddy. I

Teddy Kramer  54:16

would remove all neighborhood zoning. So it's just one code for the entire city. What happened what works for downtown works for North Beach works for comment works for you industry. There's one code for all small business. That's it. There's no because right now we've got these little five domes and these little factions. It's just one set of rules for the entire city.

Ben Kaplan  54:33

Okay, that's question a lightning round. You are made mayor for a day and you have a chance you can't do legislation in your mayor for a day, but you can bring people together in that day you can choose to bring people together shine a light on things you can use the bully pulpit power of being mayor who do you get together in the same room? What do you have? What do you haven't do a lightning round?

Katy  54:56

Bring them right here to Neon with all these wonderful people.

Ben Kaplan  54:59

Okay, well Plug your brain I'm here to do. What else? What would you do if you were mayor for a day?

Ben Bleiman  55:06

No, this is a tough one just to just to shine a light on something,

Ben Kaplan  55:09

shine a light or hold a festival or anything else

Ben Bleiman  55:12

if I could just bring everybody together and then have an indoor like, absolute insane rave and City Hall, including the dope, including the dome. Yeah, that's what I would do. You would do that. Just a party that, you know, 50 years later, they're like that was the party. Mayor bland. Really?

Ben Kaplan  55:33

Okay. That Mayor knew how to party. Wow.

Teddy Kramer  55:37

Okay. Okay. What about Teddy? I'm one of those folks. I'm a New Yorker, if you couldn't tell, you know, there's the famous story of Ed Koch would walk the streets, how am I doing? How am I doing? I would have as many folks as I could find in city government to walk the corridors, we would walk the entire city and meet small business owners shake their hands, see what's going on in their streets, see what's going on in the quarters. I think when you when you see it in the flesh, every single different quarter, I think you get a better understanding of what small business owners go through day in day out.

Ben Kaplan  56:08

Finally, riding around question is, there's been a lot of discussion in the media about the state of San Francisco, it takes like national international headlines, and you talk to a lot of San Francisco that have real mixed feelings about this. Because if you're like, wow, people are commenting on the status of San Francisco who have not set foot in San Francisco or they're they're blowing things out of proportion. And yet people say well, there are serious problems we have as well. So you are made spokesperson for San Francisco for a day you're going to be on the evening news on all channels. Every channel, including like Shark Week is postponed. It's now Teddy and Ben blindman. And Kate, Katy week, you have the microphone, what do you tell people about San Francisco, where we're at and where we're headed.

Katy  56:50

Don't be jealous, just come and enjoy it.

Ben Bleiman  56:54

This is something I actually do do all the time. And if somebody comes to me and says, I heard San Fran, like who doesn't live here, and just like I've heard really bad things about San Francisco, I always say actually, it's not as bad as they say there's certain areas that are really bad. If they come to me and go, I don't think San Francisco is that bad at all. I'm always like, actually, it's pretty bad. There's there's real problems over the real issue. So I encourage everybody to do that. Just to sort of say the opposite of what they say works works for sure. Like Teddy

Ben Kaplan  57:30

Teddy, you're the spokesperson for San Francisco for all media around the world for a day. What do you say? So I

Teddy Kramer  57:36

love when my friends from out of town come in, I run a non affiliated business and not we don't advertise called Teddy's tours. And I give tours of San Francisco. And that's exactly what I would do as they come on a tour with me and I show them all of the amazing parts of the city that I think are so special. And one of the I'll give a super quick context within you can cut me off when you want to. But there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about this journalist who all came from the East Coast and all they used to do was go downtown, downtown downtown downtown, and they had this friend who lived in North Beach and they took them on this tour. And it was for the first time in a long time. The Wall Street Journal wrote a positive article about San Francisco. And what did they do? They went to Coit Tower. They went to the Marin Headlands, they went through Golden Gate Park, they went to Ocean Beach, and they said, Wow, I never saw this part of the city. I never saw this magical place that people have been talking about for the last 10 years. And that's what I love to do. I love taking people all to the little spots that I've found over the last 10 years take them for you know, an Irish Coffee Buena Vista, take them for a cocktail at specs, or, you know, a sandwich at Mario's or take them to Clements Street to mama who who or lilies or you know all these awesome small business that doesn't Mexican food at Tommy's. Yeah, maybe it's maybe it's some margaritas too, right? Yeah, when you can provide that perspective. And obviously, I'm very selfish. But telling that story through small business people go, Ms. city's great.

Ben Kaplan  58:59

Finally, came Tang, you in many ways are a spokesperson for the city on small business too. But if you're the grand spokesperson of the world for San Francisco, final thing for the day, what do you say? What do you tell the world? Well,

Katy  59:13

I know we focus a lot on the small business owner perspective. But I would say that we all individually can be better customers too. Right? So the next time you might be thinking about ordering that thing online or that you know, that Prime shipping delivery item that you want to get online. Think about who you could support down the street from your neighborhood and incorporate that into your life every single day, not just on Small Business Saturday, not just you know, small business months, like every single day so that that would be my encouragement to every single person and that's the power that you have to really support small businesses.

Ben Kaplan  59:50

According to our we our San Francisco All Star panel, including Katy Tang, Ben blindman, and Teddy Kramer. So much of what San Francisco needs to do for small business It's just stepped out of the way. What if our measure of success was how fast a new business in San Francisco could open up? What if we permanently waived archaic licensing and permitting fees, fees that may cost more in labor cost to implement than the amount of city revenue actually raised? What if we change zoning throughout the city to remove regulations, and instead say, hey, their small business owner, please come up with a bold concept that revitalizes our neighborhoods, and the city as a whole. The sky's the limit? How creative can you be? The problem was trying to prescribe exactly what small business will do. And where they will do it is that you must have perfect vision for the future. You have to anticipate situations that don't yet exist, and make rules that still make sense. In totally unforeseen scenarios. San Francisco city government has enough challenges dealing with the presence, let alone predicting the future. Yes, we need a healthy downtown, but we should not do it at the expense of businesses everywhere else. So I'm told we have a downtown recovery plan. What about a Valencia restaurant recovery plan? How about a plan to support Chinatown businesses beyond just APEC week? In San Francisco, all neighborhoods are equal. But apparently, some are more equal than others. If we roll back regulations and fees during the pandemic because businesses needed a boost parklets are a great example. Why suddenly add back those very same regulations just because we aren't wearing masks anymore? I don't know of many businesses in the city who say they are far better off now than they were before. Finally, as many of our panelists said, We must celebrate our neighborhood small businesses. Is your grand opening coming up? We'll be there. Are you investing in an area that has vacant storefronts? Let us help. So you've got a new concept for something bold and creative in the city. Wow. We cannot wait. Yes, San Francisco government should step out of the way. But it should do it with a smile. A high five and a pat on the back. Small businesses are part of the fabric of our city. And we need them and we need you to succeed. We are San Francisco

Ben Kaplan  1:02:27

this was brought to you by top thought leader. Find out more at top thought leader.com. Hey, it's Ben Kaplan here. Want to join our movement to get San Francisco back on track.

Ben Kaplan  1:02:43

Attend a we town hall event are stopped by our poplar we have the our meetups. Better yet. Join our data team takes the census or help us audit the city budget. To join the movement. Text us at 415301 6700. That's 415-301-6700 or learn more at WESanFrancisco.org

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Waste of resources our competitors are jumping the shark.
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