SF Looks to Unleash Entrepreneurs, Maybe

This is the message that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is sending:

“This legislation is trying to eliminate from the books the complete, unnecessary nickeling-and-diming of our business entrepreneurs during our worst economic recession since the Great Depression,” Chiu said.

[From S.F.'s bid to wipe out some extra business fees]

It sounds great until you look at the fees they are “wiping off the books”… growth industries like wild west shows, rodeos, pedicab operators (I can only assume pedicures in cabs?), balloon advertising, and ring-toss operators. Yep that is really taking the boot off the neck of entrepreneurs.

By their own admission these business license fees have generated less than $20k a year in revenue, which actually seems rather high considering what the fees are, and cost more than that to administer. It’s really pretty hard to understand why this would even be a news story, more likely part of a late night talk show monologue, but what it obscures is government in San Francisco, like many big cities, really doesn’t know how to create jobs because the elected officials have not themselves been responsible for building businesses. When you haven’t held this responsibility you cannot identify with what the obstacles really are.

Case in point is this story that appeared today about the Academy of Arts school, which has grown dramatically in recent years due to a strong reputation and dynamic curriculum that focuses on digital arts. Essentially what is happening is that the school is unable to keep up with it’s expanding student body, which requires housing, because of building codes and permitting requirements and now the SF Building Department wants to penalize the school for signage and permit notification issues. Is this really the kind of relationship that the City of SF wants to have with a business that is growing and at its core a business that creates entrepreneurs?

The academy was founded in 1929 and now has almost 16,000 students. “We did not intentionally violate any laws,” said academy President Elisa Stephens, a former attorney and granddaughter of the school’s founders. She owns the school with her family. “We care about San Francisco – the city and the community – but there is lot of red tape. This is the city’s reputation.”

[From S.F. officials take hard look at Academy of Art]