Mayor Convenes Invest in Neighborhoods Strategy Working Group

Mayor Convenes Invest in Neighborhoods Strategy Working Group as First Phase of Renewed Effort to Better Leverage, Coordinate City & Other Resources to Boost S.F. Commercial Districts, Create Neighborhood Jobs 

3/6/12—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today launched his Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative, a renewed effort to marshal City and private sector resources and services to help revitalize the City's neighborhood commercial corridors, support neighborhood small businesses and boost neighborhood job creation. The Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative will build on the City's existing patchwork of programs that support neighborhood small businesses and commercial corridors and aims to prioritize, leverage and better coordinate resources and services available across City departments, nonprofits and the private sector to targeted commercial corridors throughout the City.

"Our neighborhood commercial districts and small businesses help drive our economy, create neighborhood jobs and make San Francisco a great place to live," said Mayor Lee. "Strengthening our diverse neighborhood commercial districts and small businesses requires a focused, 'all hands on deck' approach. Our Invest in Neighborhoods initiative will maximize resources across City Departments, the private and nonprofit sector to build on existing successful efforts, create new neighborhood jobs and support vibrant, thriving neighborhood commercial districts for residents and visitors alike."

"I am thrilled to help launch this neighborhood initiative in District 10, where we see both great need and great promise for our City's neighborhood commercial corridors," said Supervisor Cohen. "I'm very proud to showcase the comprehensive work done by neighborhood stakeholders and the City on San Bruno Avenue in the Portola, and look forward to working with the community to complete future projects. Especially with the loss of funding from the now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency, we need the focused, coordinated approach to neighborhood revitalization and economic development that the Invest in Neighborhoods can bring."

The Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative is a new multi-agency initiative that will coordinate a wide range of resources for neighborhood commercial districts across the city. In each participating commercial district, City services—including business retention and attraction programs, community planning activities, cleaning, greening and beautification services, public safety programs, and neighborhood art projects—will be deployed in a focused, customized manner that responds to the corridor's unique challenges and opportunities.

Each participating corridor will receive a set of baseline services that includes an economic assessment; a resource person from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development; targeted business development and financing resources; and priority consideration for various City programs including the Community Challenge Grant.

Specific additional programs and services will then be assigned to corridors based on a corridor's assessment and funding availability. In neighborhoods demonstrating high need, opportunity for economic growth, and existing community capacity, the City will provide operational support for a community-based organization providing focused support to neighborhood merchants, residents, property owners, nonprofits, and other stakeholders.

On San Bruno Avenue, the City and community development partner Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) have partnered since 2005 with the Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee—a group of merchants, residents, and community-based organizations that is focused on improving the neighborhood and attracting more visitors and shoppers to San Bruno Avenue. Accomplishments have included a major streetscape overhaul, the completion of 8 storefront improvements, a 40 foot mural on a Caltrans support pillar, and a community safety ambassador program. The community's current priorities for the neighborhood are the attraction of a coffee shop and the development of a pocket park at the intersection of Burrows and San Bruno.

Since 2005, at a time when the vacancy rate citywide increased, San Bruno Avenue's vacancy rate has decreased from 7 percent to 4.8 percent. Its annual sales tax revenue has increased 8 percent, in comparison to a 3 percent increase citywide – in spite of the Great Recession and the economic downturn.

"We appreciate Mayor Lee's leadership to bring together all the different City departments in order to achieve concrete results for our neighborhood," said Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee Manager Robert Ramirez. 

The first phase of the effort is the convening of the Invest in Neighborhoods Strategy Working Group over the next two months of City department heads, neighborhood commercial leaders and technical experts to evaluate existing resources and tools, identify best practices and make recommendations for a more comprehensive strategy and additional resources through the Mayor's FY 2012-2013 budget. The Working Group will be co-chaired by City Administrator Naomi Kelly and Office of Economic & Workforce Development (OEWD) Director Jennifer Matz and includes the Department of Public Works (SFDPW), the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Office of Small Business Assistance, Recreation & Parks Department, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs, Mayor's Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE) Director and former Supervisor Bevan Dufty and many others. The Mayor's Office and OEWD staff will also meet with each District Supervisor in the coming weeks to seek input and identify recommended commercial corridors for participation in the comprehensive initiative. 

The Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative is part of Mayor Lee's 17-point Roadmap to Good Jobs and Opportunity plan to create jobs and promote smart economic growth and development for San Francisco.