SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A city measure aimed at helping small businesses that was approved by more than 60 percent of San Francisco voters during this month’s elections could take effect earlier than Jan. 1, Mayor London Breed said Thursday.

Breed announced she has issued an Executive Order to implement Prop. H, the Save our Small Businesses measure, within 30 days in order to help small businesses as many face uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Prop. H streamlines the city’s permitting process for businesses changes the city’s planning code to allow for commercial districts to have more flexibility when it comes to zoning.

“Our system for permitting small businesses to open and operate was broken before the pandemic, but now it’s a matter of life and death for countless restaurants, retail establishments, and other businesses that we know and love in our community,” Breed said in a statement. “That’s why I introduced Prop H, and why an overwhelming majority of voters supported it, because we don’t have time to waste.”

Currently, small businesses must apply for multiple permits with the city — a process that can take anywhere from 6 months to a year and half. During that time, however, businesses still must pay rent, taxes and other expenses before even being allowed to open.

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The mayor’s office said the exhausting process can result in more vacant storefronts, fewer jobs and less lively commercial corridors.

President of the San Francisco Small Business Commission Sharky Laguana said, “Proposition H is the most meaningful legislation to impact San Francisco small businesses in many years. Business permits can take over a year to obtain. Prop H reduces this to 30 days or less. Prop H gives existing businesses new tools to survive, and dramatically reduces the hassles new
businesses face when trying to get started.

According to the mayor’s office, there are about 94,000 small businesses in the city, making up 94 percent of all of the city’s businesses.

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