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Mayor Breed Announces Investments to Support Small Business Recovery in San Francisco’s Economic Core

“While San Francisco is bouncing back from this pandemic, we continue to see major shifts in our city, and we see that in our Economic Core more than anywhere else,” said Breed. “I’ve been visiting businesses large and small, and while it’s clear we are all committed to adapting and thriving as part of our long-term recovery, our small businesses in these downtown areas cannot wait any longer. They need all of us dedicating our energy and resources to help them in the short-term, as we continue to do the work to get our city back on track.”

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New programming in Mayor’s proposed budget will include support to small businesses as well as events, activations, and public space improvements aimed at spurring the return of employees, tourists, and other groups to key areas of the City. (London Breed. Wikipedia.org photo.)

From Mayor’s Office

Mayor London N. Breed announced Tuesday $47.9 million in new funding to support the economic recovery of the City’s Economic Core that will be part of her proposed budget.

This will include new direct support for small businesses, as well as new events, activations, and public space improvements to support areas that rely on workers, tourists, and other visitors.

The funding proposal will also continue the City’s existing Ambassador programs located in areas like Mid-Market, Union Square, Downtown, South of Market, and along the Embarcadero.

These resources are aimed primarily at funding initiatives that directly support and drive foot traffic to the small businesses in San Francisco’s Economic Core, which includes Downtown, South of Market, Union Square, Civic Center, Yerba Buena, and Mission Bay.

These areas continue to experience ongoing and significant disruptions to the employee and tourist-based foot traffic that they relied on prior to the pandemic.

“While San Francisco is bouncing back from this pandemic, we continue to see major shifts in our city, and we see that in our Economic Core more than anywhere else,” said Breed. “I’ve been visiting businesses large and small, and while it’s clear we are all committed to adapting and thriving as part of our long-term recovery, our small businesses in these downtown areas cannot wait any longer. They need all of us dedicating our energy and resources to help them in the short-term, as we continue to do the work to get our city back on track.”

The Mayor’s Budget proposal includes:

  • $10 million for direct grants and loans aimed at helping small businesses launch, stabilize, scale up and adapt business models. New funding will expand programs to serve businesses throughout the City, including businesses within the Economic Core.
  • $10.5 million over the two years for the City Core Recovery Fund to support events, public space and ground floor activations, as well as a city-wide marketing campaign. This funding is envisioned to support community driven efforts to beautify, improve, and activate public spaces and ground floor vacancies throughout the Economic Core.
  • $25.4 million over the next two years to continue the Mid-Market/Tenderloin Community-Based Safety Program, which provides community ambassadors who are focused on creating more welcoming, clean, and vibrant environments for residents, workers, and visitors in the areas around the Tenderloin, Civic Center, and Market Street.
  • $2 million for SF Welcome Ambassadors and Retired Police Community Ambassadors stationed in key transit and tourist nodes such as Downtown BART stations, Union Square, Moscone Convention Center, and along the Embarcadero.

These funds will maintain the City’s current investment and will allow for a consistent and visible safety presence as well as proactive positive engagement and friendly assistance in wayfinding, making referrals and recommendations, and coordinating with other City departments and community-based efforts to support positive street conditions and experiences by business owners, employees, residents, and visitors alike.

The specific programming and initiatives created through this funding will be informed by convening key representatives of the industries, businesses, community groups, and other stakeholders in the Economic Core to understand and respond to the immediate needs and challenges those on the ground are experiencing, and to adopt and scale the solutions they are developing.

“San Francisco small businesses are the cornerstone of our economic recovery. Through the leadership of Mayor Breed, these proposed investments are practical solutions that will help bring customers and visitors back into our Economic Core which comprises over 40% of our small businesses,” said Kate Sofis, executive director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “As the dynamic continues to change and shift on the ground, we want to ensure we stabilize our small businesses, including our local artists, musicians, and performers with new funding and programs that activate and create opportunities and a safe and welcoming space for everyone. When our small businesses thrive, our city thrives.”

Mayor Breed partnered with Advance SF to create the “Renewing San Francisco’s Economic Core Forum,” a facilitated conversation with a cross-section of stakeholders from the Economic Core including large and small businesses, arts groups, brokers and real estate representatives, hospitality and entertainment establishments, and community benefits districts, among others.

This group began a process to develop a shared vision for supporting the ongoing vibrance of the Economic Core in the post-pandemic economic context and identify immediate needs as well as mid- and long-term initiatives to explore.

Through ongoing dialogue and discussion and in coordination with a broad set of stakeholders, San Francisco will continue to advance strategies that leverage key assets of its Economic Core to support its continued vibrancy and preserve its role in supporting the region’s economic well-being.

“Over the last several months, Advance SF has worked with the Mayor’s Office to bring private and public sector partners together to develop strategies to restore our Economic Core,” said Larry Baer, Co-Chair of Advance SF. “Mayor Breed is laser-focused on San Francisco’s post-pandemic recovery and the budget released today sets a clear vision to immediately address our city’s most pressing economic challenges,” continued Lloyd Dean, Co-Chair of Advance SF.

Prior to the pandemic, 469,745 people commuted to San Francisco for work. According to the most recent report from the City Economist, offices are seeing just 35% of their workforce returning to the office. Additionally, the City averaged 1 million annual tourists prior to the pandemic, and SF Travel does not estimate a full tourism recovery until 2024.

The Mayor’s proposed budget prioritizes the urgent needs of the small consumer-facing businesses in the Economic Core. Over 42% of the City’s small businesses are in the Economic Core and pre-pandemic, this area generated more than 45% of the City’s sales tax. While sales tax indicates that almost all of San Francisco’s neighborhoods have recovered the vast majority of the economic activity they generated prior to the pandemic, San Francisco’s office and tourist districts, including the Financial District, East Cut, Yerba Buena, Union Square, Mid-Market and SOMA maintain deficits of 20% or more.

“The challenges facing small businesses in San Francisco’s Economic Core are immense,” said Andrew Chun, owner of Schroeder’s Bar and Restaurant at Front and California Street. “As the rest of the City continues its recovery from the pandemic, it’s easy for Downtown small businesses to feel abandoned. The Mayor’s new budget highlights the need to proactively invest in a revitalized economic core. We are excited to work with the Mayor and appreciate the efforts of the City and community partners to invest in Downtown’s future.”

“Bringing foot traffic and business to our restaurants and small businesses in our downtown Economic Core area is critical to the survival and vibrancy of San Francisco,” said Laurie Thomas, executive director of Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “We continue to work hard with our partner organizations, larger employers and the City to help drive customers to these businesses so they can keep their staff employed and help their businesses open. We thank the Mayor and her team for prioritizing these restaurants and businesses in her budget and look forward to a continued partnership. We can do this if we work together.”

“As an employer with a large employee presence, we see the strain that the pandemic has created for our small businesses. We have worked in partnership with the small business community to ensure that as our employees return to the office, we are maximizing their support of surrounding small businesses that depend on them. With investments such as the City Core Recovery efforts that Mayor Breed has proposed the City can scale efforts like what we piloted with Golden Gate Restaurant Association to the benefit of all,” said Rebecca Prozan, Director of West Coast Government Relations and Public Policy at Google.

“Bringing people back to downtown is an important budget priority for our city. San Francisco is famously a city of neighborhoods, but all of us rely on the economic activity of the central business core of the City and its daily commuters and visitors,” said Andrew Robinson, Executive Director of the East Cut Community Benefits District. “The downtown is our economic engine; the small businesses, all the neighborhood corridors, all of the investments we make to keep our neighborhoods thriving rely on the health and vitality of our city’s core. The vitality of downtown is critical to our recovery—it is where people from across the City and region come to work, where tourists first set foot in our city, and where innovation thrives.”

“We’re optimistic about the recovery of downtown San Francisco and the cultural heart of Yerba Buena,” said Yerba Buena Community Benefit District Executive Director Cathy Maupin. “The clear uptick in tourism, conventions and hotel occupancy is bringing more and more people to the area to patronize small businesses, restaurants and cultural institutions. With the continued support and partnership of Mayor Breed and the City, we’re confident that this momentum and vibrancy will be sustainable.”

“Investing in the Economic Core of our city is essential to our overall recovery strategy,” said Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO of San Francisco Travel Association. “The return on that investment will ensure that our small businesses can thrive as we once again welcome back business and leisure visitors to downtown and core neighborhoods reliant on tourism. It will also ensure that we can continue to bring back good jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector. Before the pandemic tourism supported more than 86,000 jobs in San Francisco compared to just over 27,000 in 2021.”

“Reimagining Downtown San Francisco is pivotal to the entire City’s vitality and Economic Core in this post-lockdown era. Yes, our world will look different as workers and companies adapt to a new reality. But as always, San Francisco will embrace this and be a catalyst for change with intentional evolution. We’ve always been a city on the cutting edge of progress and the past two years will not undo that forward-thinking precedent. Creating new public spaces, incubating small businesses, and giving arts and culture a new stage will be the backbone of our reimagined economy in Downtown SF,” said Robbie Silver, Executive Director of the Downtown Community Benefit District.

“Small businesses make our merchant corridors the unique and vibrant streets that we all love,” said Rodney Fong, president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “This investment from Mayor Breed celebrates those businesses and will help to return San Francisco’s Economic Core to the lively form it once held.”

“Mid-Market has been an abandoned landscape of vacant storefronts, drug dealing, and street crime for the past few years,” said Kash, the owner of Warm Planet Bikes at Market and McAllister. “The improved conditions of having Urban Alchemy on my block has been like night and day. More important, every practitioner I’ve talked with either has a second job or has a plan to transition to a stable career. This forward-thinking attitude is fundamental to the long-term success for the program and for the individuals moving through it and I strongly support that goal.”

Activism

IN MEMORIAM: Oakland’s Own Bill Russell, 88, Greatest Athlete/Civil Rights Activist Ever (Part 1)

NNPA NEWSWIRE — William Felton Russell was born on Feb. 12, 1934, in Monroe, La., and his family moved to West Oakland in 1942 when he was 8. His father found work on the waterfront and in the Bay Area shipyards in the middle of World War II. They instilled in him a history of racial and family pride that helped him survive in a racially discriminatory Boston environment while playing for the Boston Celtics.

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As the first-ranked and highest respected Black sportsman, Bill Russell used his status to lead the nation’s leading Black athletes which included Jim Brown, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and many others to support Muhammad Ali’s stance against the Vietnam War.
As the first-ranked and highest respected Black sportsman, Bill Russell used his status to lead the nation’s leading Black athletes which included Jim Brown, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and many others to support Muhammad Ali’s stance against the Vietnam War.

By Paul Cobb, Post News Group Publisher

Bill Russell, the center of attention in professional basketball, died at 88 after becoming the most decorated athlete in all of the team sports in the United States.

The star of the Boston Celtics from 1956-1969, he changed the way basketball was played by applying his rare combination of basketball and track and field athleticism to fashion a defense-centered dominance. In a sport where one’s ability to score points was prized, he reversed the focus by making defensive thinking to prevent others from scoring.

He died on July 31, after more than 70 years of basketball and civil rights activism.

William Felton Russell was born on Feb. 12, 1934, in Monroe, La., and his family moved to West Oakland in 1942 when he was 8. His father found work on the waterfront and in the Bay Area shipyards in the middle of World War II. They instilled in him a history of racial and family pride that helped him survive in a racially discriminatory Boston environment while playing for the Boston Celtics.

In his early years his home was only three blocks east from Ron Dellums, Oakland’s first Black congressman, and just three blocks west from Frank Robinson, Oakland’s first Black Major League Baseball coach.

While living near Ninth and Center streets, he learned early on that one must fight for honor, dignity, and respect by never backing down from any challenge whether through fisticuffs or verbal slights.

He was mentored at Defremery Park and Recreation Center by the late Dorothy Seale Pitts and George Scotlan along with Bill Patterson, who now serves as an EBMUD Director, to stay centered on what mattered.

Even though he pioneered greatness as an athlete and as a scholar/athlete/civil rights activist who fought to achieve dignity and respect for African Americans, his path to recognition and honor was not easy because was not considered good enough to crack the starting five basketball Warriors lineup at McClymonds High School in West Oakland.

He never stopped trying and practicing with his teammates who were better shooters and scorers. But, at 6-foot 10 inches, he was taller and could jump higher and played defense above the rim. He even became the Warriors’ mascot who created a stunning nimble artistic dance routine as the team’s mascot.

(His achievements attracted many who sought to follow in his footsteps with stylized dance routines that were featured during halftime breaks.)

His mother died when he was 12, never seeing Bill win two state prep titles and two national college crowns at the University of San Francisco after being ignored by many colleges because he was Black.

He was a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and captain of the 1956 U.S. Gold Medal team at the Melbourne Olympics. He drastically altered defensive play by excelling in rebounding, shot-blocking, and passing to ignite a fast-paced style of play.

He won eight consecutive NBA titles from 1959-1966. As a player-coach in his final three seasons, Russell was the first Black coach in North American sports and the first to win a title, doing so in 1968 and again in his 1969 farewell campaign.

He was the first Black player inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 by Barack Obama, America’s first Black president, for his civil rights and basketball achievements.

Russell was first among Oakland’s and the country’s athletic achievers. His USF team was the first major college to start three Black players. His Celtics team was the first to start five Black players. He was the first to become a player-coach. And he was the first player-coach to win an NBA title. He was first to be invited by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to speak at the 1963 March on Washington. He was the first athlete to utilize his celebrity by traveling to Mississippi to use sports to bring racial healing after the KKK killed NAACP leader Medgar Evers.

As the first-ranked and highest respected Black sportsman, he used his status to lead the nation’s leading Black athletes which included Jim Brown, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and many others to support Muhammad Ali’s stance against the Vietnam War.

He always remembered his friends and mentors here in Oakland. Whenever he traveled to Oakland, he would often check in with Maxine Willis Ussery and reminisce about the days when his family would visit her family’s cleaning establishment.

She said he was protective of her and wanted to meet and give his approval to any of her dates and he insisted that he go to dinner with her and fiance Wilfred Ussery to give his approval. Maxine is now the office manager at the Post News Group (Oakland Post).

He paid one of his highest compliments to Bill Patterson for guiding and counseling him since his high school days. He said Patterson helped him understand that he must never allow himself to be a victim. He was proud of Coach Ben Tapscott, the McClymonds’ basketball coach, who not only continued to maintain the school’s tradition as the winningest high school in the country with an emphasis on academic achievements.

He invited Tapscott to share the glory with him when he was inducted and honored by the University of San Francisco.

In an interview with Russell and former WNBA Coach Nancy Lieberman, just months before his passing, he was making plans to donate a jointly signed basketball to salute the achievement of Oakland’s African American Sports and Entertainment Group for purchasing the Oakland Coliseum.

Bill Patterson, Geoffrey Pete, Ben Tapscott, Joe Ellis, Jumoke Hinton, Rev. Gerald Agee, Ray Bobbitt, Arif Khatib, Virtual Murrell, Gary Reeves, Nancy Lieberman, Jonathan Jones, Al Attles, Jr. and many others have asked The Post to put them on the task force to gather the list and honor the Bay Area’s historic cavalcade of Athlete/Activists who also became “firsts” in their respective sports. For those who want to volunteer to be included, please contact Maxine Ussery @510-287-8200 or mussery@postnewsgroup.com.

“We must find a way to honor our highest achievers,” said Bill Patterson and Ben Tapscott

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Activism

Over 500 Attend Police-Free Event to Reimagine Safety in Oakland

Night Out for Safety and Liberation started in 2013 by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain and is held as an alternative to the police-centric National Night Out. Since 2013, the event has spread across the country with over 50 events scheduled this year where communities make the night about the power of community, not cops.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Night Out for Safety and Liberation Events Held in More Than 50 Communities Across the Country

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

OAKLAND, CA — Over 500 people and families filled Josie de la Cruz Park in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood on Aug. 2 to enjoy performances, kids activities, and mutual aid to celebrate Night Out for Safety and Liberation (NOSL), an annual national event that redefines what safety and joy is without policing. The free community event included free diapers and books for all ages, food, bike giveaways, air purifiers, self defense training, a drag show, and performances from poets and artists such as Lauren Adams, TJ Sykes and Voces Mexicanas.

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Night Out for Safety and Liberation started in 2013 by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain and is held as an alternative to the police-centric National Night Out. Since 2013, the event has spread across the country with over 50 events scheduled this year where communities make the night about the power of community, not cops.

“We have been reimagining what safety means beyond police for our communities for over 25 years at the Ella Baker Center. When we create safe spaces for our community to come together and support each other, when we provide living-wage jobs so people are able to put food on their table, when we empower our children and provide opportunities for them to thrive, when we invest in healthcare and mental health resources, this is how we create real safety,” said Marlene Sanchez, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center.

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Through Night Out for Safety and Liberation, communities are creating safety not through policing but through healing and restorative justice, through creating gender affirming spaces and protecting trans and LGBTQIA communities, through reinvesting funding into community-based alternatives and solutions that truly keep communities safe.

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

“We don’t need more police in our streets. We don’t need more surveillance. What we need is resources!” said Jose Bernal, Organizing Director with the Ella Baker Center. “What we need is housing, diapers, legal resources, jobs. This [Night Out for Safety and Liberation] is what keeps us safe. This is resilience.”

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson

The event was emceed by Nifa Akosua, Senior Organizer and Advocate with the Ella Baker Center, and TJ Sykes, author and community activist–both natives of Richmond, California. The show included entertaining performances from Oakland Originalz break dancers, Voces Mexicanas mariachi band, singer Lauren Adams and a drag show from Afrika America.

“Night Out for Safety and Liberation is about neighborhood love and neighborhood safety. It’s about connecting, showing up for each other and staying connected as a community. That’s how we keep each other safe,” said Nifa.

More than 20 organizations and vendors participated in Tuesday’s event, offering community resources, face painting, giving away 500 books for all ages, and free diapers. Those participating included: Help A Mother Out, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, ACLU of Northern California, TGI Justice Project, Urban Peace Movement, Ella Baker’s Readers & Cesar Chavez Public Library, Alliance for Girls, Bay Area Women Against Rape, Centro Legal de la Raza, Common Humanity Collective, Street Level Health Project, Malikah – Self Defense, East Bay Community Law Center, Unity Council, Young Women’s Freedom Center, East Bay Family Defenders, Bay Area Workers Support, L’Artiste A La Carte, Education Super Highway, Cut Fruit Collective, and WIC.

Other Night Out for Safety and Liberation events were held in Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, Phoenix, Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Waco, Hampden, Conway, Washington D.C. and other cities. Follow the conversation and see photos from events in other cities using #SafetyIs and #NOSL22.

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Activism

OPINION: Are We About to See the Permanent Exclusion of Most Black People from Construction Jobs in Oakland?

How is that possible in this city that is believed by the world to be very progressive? Most of the work goes to members of the construction unions that have historically and currently excluded Black people through a complex set of membership requirements.

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The City Council established a task force to discuss the racial issues involved in construction and the possibility of a Project Labor Agreement. The task force included some community members, including the publisher of the Oakland Post, and was mandated to address racial discrimination first.
The City Council established a task force to discuss the racial issues involved in construction and the possibility of a Project Labor Agreement. The task force included some community members, including the publisher of the Oakland Post, and was mandated to address racial discrimination first.

By Kitty Epstein

For decades Black people in Oakland have obtained 9% or less of the work hours on publicly funded construction projects. So…for jobs that are paid for by all of our tax dollars, Black residents, who make up 23% of Oakland’s population, get only 9% of the relatively well-paid work doing construction.

How is that possible in this city that is believed by the world to be very progressive? Most of the work goes to members of the construction unions that have historically and currently excluded Black people through a complex set of membership requirements.

Nationally, only 7.2% of the carpenters’ union members are Black; 8.3% of the electricians’ union members and so on. The City of Oakland has done two very thorough reports of these racial equity issues. You can find this important information at the end of this story.

But the leadership of the construction trades now insist that that they should obtain an even larger portion of the construction hours and that this practice should be set in stone by something called a Project Labor Agreement. It is now being inaccurately called a “Community Workforce Agreement,” which is nonsense because it doesn’t help the community.

Why would progressive Oakland consider giving exclusive benefits to organizations that practice well-documented racial discrimination? At least one part of the reason is that the construction unions spend enormous amounts of money on Oakland elections. They were instrumental in former City Councilmember Desley Brooks’ defeat in District 6, for example, because they did not consider her sufficiently compliant with their demands.

The City Council established a task force to discuss the racial issues involved in construction and the possibility of a Project Labor Agreement. The task force included some community members, including the publisher of the Oakland Post, and was mandated to address racial discrimination first.

The community members proposed that the entire task force work collectively throughout the process of making proposals and negotiating solutions. The City rejected this proposal and began meeting with the building trades alone, saying that they would return with a proposed Project Labor Agreement, although there has been no demonstrated change in the racial exclusivity practiced by the construction trades.

This is outrageous on three levels:

  1. These are the tax dollars of Black residents, as well as others.
  2. The community’s interests in racial justice have not been resolved in any policy venue.
  3. The community belongs at the table throughout whatever process takes place.

The usual arguments for labor/employer negotiations do not apply. The construction unions are NOT city workers. If they were city employees, they would have both the rights (negotiations) and the responsibilities (non-discriminatory hiring) of the city. Since they are not held responsible to Include Black people in their organizations, they should not have the right to exclusive negotiations about anything

I am hopeful, of course, that the City will reject the continuation and expansion of racial discrimination policies practiced by the leadership of the trades unions and will insist on the drastic changes necessary for Black people to obtain 23% of the work hours they are due by virtue of their proportion of the population and tax dollars contributed.

These two documents below provide information that is both illuminating and horrifying.

Oakland Equity Indicators: https://www.oaklandca.gov/projects/oakland-equity-indicators

Disparity Study – https://www.postnewsgroup.com/disparity-study-examines-patterns-of-discrimination-seeks-remedies-for-city-practices-of-selecting-contractors-in-construction-goods-and-services/

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As the first-ranked and highest respected Black sportsman, Bill Russell used his status to lead the nation’s leading Black athletes which included Jim Brown, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and many others to support Muhammad Ali’s stance against the Vietnam War.
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