CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
SMALL BUSINESS COMMISSION
City Hall, Room 400
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place San Francisco, CA 94102
Monday, May 14, 2007 5:30 PM
Small Business Commissioners
Michael O'Connor, President
Jordanna Thigpen, Vice President
Florence Alberts, David Chiu, Gus Murad, Dr. Raye Richardson, Richard Ventura
Executive Director – Agnes Briones
Commission Secretary – Martha Yañez
Members Absent: Commissioner Richardson, Commissioner Murad
Call to order:
Item 1 - ROLL CALL
The Small Business Commission met on Monday, May 14, 2007 in regular session. The meeting was called to order at 5:40PM.
Item 2 – APPROVAL OF THE APRIL 9, 2007 MEETING MINUTES
Commissioner Chiu made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted. Commissioner Ventura seconded. The motion was unanimously approved by the Commission.
Item 3- GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT
Scott Hauge representing the Small Business Network, invited the Commissioners to the Networks annual award gala to be held on Thursday, May 17th from 6-9PM at the Miyako Hotel in San Francisco. To RSVP or if there are any questions he informed the Commissioners to contact Pat Christensen.
Item 4 – COMMISSIONER AND STAFF REPORTS
Commissioner Thigpen thanked everyone who participated in Small Business Week events and activities. She said it was a wonderful week in celebration of San Francisco's small business community. She was especially pleased with the Green Business Gala and the Flavors event. Commissioner Ventura thanked all the sponsors of Small Business Week, with a special thank you to Wells Fargo, presenting sponsor. He said they were all very pleased and looks forward to participating next year. Commissioner Alberts said that she was proud of everyone who helped plan the weeks events and in particular of Commissioner Thigpen who has been involved and spearheading Small Business Week since the beginning when it was just a thought in the Outreach Committee of the Commission. Acting Director Mike Farrah thanked Martha for drafting the legislation to waive the temporary occupancy permits for the sidewalk sales. He said he would be preparing thank you letters for all the sponsors. He said he heard the Chamber event was also a huge success. On to a different issue he reported that he represented the Commission at a hearing before the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force on an issue of privacy and said that he would have a follow up hearing scheduled in a week or so. Commissioner O'Connor said that he attended an event for Small Business Week in the upper Haight with merchants and residents and said it was a great turnout. He said each of the businesses hosted a part of the event at their place of business, so for example one business for appetizers, another for drinks. He said it was a great model for other businesses to follow. Commissioner Alberts acknowledged the Bayview sidewalk sales stating that she was very impressed with the event they put on, stating that they good and services were great and said they deserve real recognition.
Item 5 –SMALL BUSINESS AWARD PRESENTATION
Commissioner Ventura introduced Bob Sanchez of Casa Sanchez, stating that he is the 3rd generation of the family run business which started in Pacific Heights in the early 1900's as a tortilla factory. He said that they later followed their clientele to the Mission District and started making chips and salsa for sale. He said the business has continued to grow and remains family owned and operated. Mr. Sanchez accepted his award and thanked the Commission. Scott Hauge, a member of the public also wished to acknowledge Bob Sanchez and said that one thing that was left out was that Mr. Sanchez had served as a former Commissioner.
Item 6 – SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE CENTER
Acting Director Mike Farrah said that Mayor Newsom with the support of Treasure Jose Cisneros recently introduced the creation of a business assistance center to be housed in the Treasure and Tax Collector's Office. He said the Mayor would include this in his budget and will introduce to the Board of Supervisors in the next couple of weeks. He said the center would be housed in the Treasure and Tax Collector's Office. He said that the Commission should be involved in the design of the center and state what ought to be included in the program and in service delivery. He said the vision is to have the center be the central point for information and have the center be a place where representatives of some of the city's other regulatory agencies and non profit service providers could keep office hours and be available to the public there. He said the center would also provide a unique opportunity to educate businesses of some of the other programs such as the loan program or façade program, technical assistance and business classes. Commissioner O'Connor said this was a great idea and one that the Commission should be engaged in. Commissioner Thigpen asked if and to what degree the center would provide technology. Regarding the long term funding of the center, she asked if it would be possible to take a portion of the permits to fund the center. Finally she said that the Commission should be the head of the center and who ever is hired as the manager or center director, that person should be available to report to the Commission on a regular basis. Acting Director Farrah responded to the question related to funding the center, stating that they would not want to create new fees, stating that it sort of defeats the purpose of providing the service. He said because it is a new service, they will likely create new revenue. He said the Board of Supervisors will likely bring this up and attempt to take full time employees and re direct them. Regarding the center's technology, he said it would be key and central to the center and should be the first order of business. Commissioner Ventura asked about the hours of operation, stating that it might make sense to offer after hours or weekend hours to accommodate businesses owners who often can not leave their work locations. Acting Director Farrah said that it was a great suggestion and exactly the kind of thing they will need the Commission's help with going forward. Commissioner Alberts suggested that folks visit Oakland's office, stating that they have a great program in place in Oakland. She said the center should be well staffed by people who actually know the process with regard to the specific departments. She suggested having a greeter to direct the public and make sure people are attended to. Acting Director Farrah said that there would be training involved to make sure staff knows what is expected of them. He said he would love to visit the Oakland office and offered to go together. Commissioner Chiu thanked Acting Director Farrah for his leadership on this. He asked about and spoke to the importance of listing vacancies and making those known to the public. He asked if the center might include a way for the public to view a list of vacant commercial properties. He also suggested that there be an automated FAQ, so that when folks ask a question, the answer automatically gets posted or created. Acting Director Farrah said that they are in the process of putting together an FAQ for the 311 call center operators, and said that they would be able to work from that for this purposes. Commissioner Alberts said that a very important component would be marketing of the center and suggested that the center not open until completely ready to serve the public. Scott Hauge said that that the center idea has been a long time coming. He also mentioned the Mayor's mention of his Executive Order at the last meeting and said that there is something in there that requires every department to identify a person to serve as a liaison to the Commission on contracting goals. He suggested the Commission revisit that Executive Order and implement the order.
Commissioner Chiu made a motion to support the Business Assistance Center and the necessary budget appropriations for it. Commissioner Thigpen seconded. The Commission unanimously approved the motion.
Item 7- SF ENERGY WATCH & OUTREACH TO SMALL BUSINESSES UPDATE
Commissioner Ventura reported that the program was implemented on February 9th and since six contractors have been chosen. Of which one is an LBE with two more in the pipeline. He said that 75 sites have been audited thus far with 39 of those accepted for the program, of which 13 have since been installed. Overall he said 70% of the work is lighting and 30% is refrigeration. Commissioner Thigpen asked why the smaller number in refrigeration since it seems to have the larger environmental impact. Alena Gilchrist of the Department of the Environment said that this number should go up with the next report, stating that there was a learning curve with the contractor. Commissioner Ventura said that one of the reasons that he wants to keep this on the Commission's radar is to keep businesses informed of this opportunity. Alena Gilchrist said that there is a hotline for more information at 355-3769. She also congratulated the Commission on Small Business Week and said that they met a lot of people and made a lot of connections at the event.
Item 8- RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARKING, NEIGHBORHOOD BUSINESSES AND FAMILIES
Bree Mawhorter stated that the supervisor became interested in this because of the fact that parking spaces are an important resource to San Francisco families, stating that families use their cars to get to work, to transport their children to school, to run errands among other things. She said that the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission estimates that 90% of homeowners and 40% of renters own a car. Unfortunately the city's parking resources are in decline, stating that Caltrans estimated that since 1999, the City has lost 10 thousand parking spaces. She said this begs the question what do we do about this problem, and said that in the mid 1990's the city created the Off Street Revenue Parking Account, which is chartered in the Traffic Code Section 213 and said that the net revenue from any parking facilities that are owned and operated by the city of San Francisco should be deposited into this account, and the funds in this account have to be spent on construction of off street parking facilities. She said that little to no parking establishments have been built in the ten years of this account. Thus the intent of the hearing is to find out how much money has gone into this account, what the account balance is, and how the money has been spent, as well as to look at the possibility of building parking facilities going forward. She said they hope to calendar the item in June or July and will be communicating this to the Commission going forward. Commissioner Thigpen thanked the Supervisor and her staff for bringing this forward. She asked when and where the last parking facility was built. Bree Mawhorter said that this is one of the questions they hope to answer. Commissioner O'Connor as a side note said that there would be an upcoming hearing on the use of the DMV lot during off hours. Commissioner Chiu asked if they had any hypothesis on parking arrangement as related to parking and businesses. He asked if they would allow local neighborhoods to have an input with respect to parking arrangements. Bree Mawhorter said that they would be open to suggestions.
Item 9 - NEW BUSINESS
Commissioner O'Connor requested a presentation from the Planning Department on their small business plan or guidelines. He also said he would like a presentation from Tangerine Brigham on the HAP. Furthermore he said he would like to invite someone to present on the Backstreet Business Task Force. Commissioner Thigpen requested a presentation from the City's Real Estate Division on the commercial opportunities for businesses. She also said she would like a presentation on the Transportation Effectiveness Project in July perhaps and said she would be particularly interested in the bus shelters and possible opportunities to partner with businesses. Commissioner Ventura asked about the Tax Reform issue. Commissioner Chiu said that Supervisor Peskin has requested to obtain more info and data in order to move forward and said that they are essentially waiting for that info to decide how to proceed. Acting Director Farrah said that he would like to present the Commission with a three month task calendar prior to leaving his role as Acting Director.
Item 10- ADJOURNMENT
Commissioner Thigpen made a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Alberts seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 6:41 P.M.