Author Archives: Sarah Ritter

Jobs Squad

Oewd stuff 082The Jobs Squad helps small businesses save money, navigate City processes, access vital programs, and stay informed of issues that may affect them. This team of City staff conducts door-to-door outreach to small businesses around the City to connect them with help and information. The Jobs Squad supports small businesses through the following activities:

  • Provide information on existing City resources and programs that directly benefit small businesses.
  • Provide technical assistance to help businesses navigate permitting processes.
  • Provide information on baseline services and customized services to the 25 Invest in Neighborhood commercial corridors.
  • Partner with City agencies to assist small businesses when faced with disasters and crises, such as fires and floods.
  • Address systemic issues faced by small businesses by partnering with the Office of Small Business to formulate policy recommendations.

To contact the Jobs Squad or request a visit to your small business or neighborhood e-mail Or, contact staff directly:

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    • Kamilah Latimore at or (415) 554-6031.
  • Francis Chan at or (415) 554-5106. Assistance available in Cantonese and Mandarin.

City Hall Liaisons

Invest In Neighborhoods (IIN) has City Hall Liaisons who are staff members which have been assigned to each IIN neighborhood commercial district. Each liaison is responsible for the following in relation to their assignment:

  • Advocating for the neighborhood commercial district,
  • Leveraging City services and community partners to address unique opportunities and challenges,
  • Working with community members to develop a customized service plan,
  • Keeping track of vacant retail spaces and development projects, and
  • Other responsibilities specific to each neighborhood commercial district.

To identify the City Hall Liaison for your neighborhood commercial district, visit the neighborhood page or download this list.

Small Business Loan Programs

The City’s Office of Economic & Workforce Development and its partners offers a variety of loan programs to entrepreneurs seeking to launch, expand or stabilize their business, including:

  • The Small Business Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), a partnership with Working Solutions, offers loans ranging from $5-50K to qualifying start-up and expanding small businesses.
  • The Emerging Business Loan Fund (EBLF), a partnership with Bay Area Small Business Finance, offers loans ranging from $50,000 to $1,000,000 to growth-phase small businesses and qualifying commercial real estate projects.
  • Opportunity Fund offers microloans of up to $10,000 to existing businesses in San Francisco.
  • Mission Asset Fund helps clients participate in lending circles that are zero-fee, zero-interest credit-building social loans. By organizing low-income community members into Lending Circles, borrowers become lenders and lenders become borrowers.
  • Kiva Zip helps entrepreneurs access zero-interest loans to launch or expand their micro-enterprise.

For more information, download a summary of the OEWD business loan programs and contact information, or visit the Office of Small Business at City Hall or contact them at 415-554-6134 .

Minor Zoning Modifications

The San Francisco Planning Department can work with community stakeholders to identify minor modifications to land use controls that can support the development of a healthier commercial district.

What is Zoning?

Zoning regulates the use of land and the physical characteristics for new development. It establishes what uses are allowed on a property (e.g. residential, commercial, industrial) as well as density, building heights, access to parking and loading, and required open space, among a variety of other matters. Zoning also addresses the balance of uses in an area by allowing certain uses and prohibiting others. In the neighborhood commercial districts, for example, a broad range of neighborhood-serving uses (e.g. restaurants, cafes, grocery stores) are allowed and uses that aren’t appropriate to a neighborhood (e.g. heavy industrial) are prohibited.

What types of changes in Zoning could be proposed through the Invest in Neighborhoods Project?

Minor zoning changes could be proposed. Examples of minor zoning changes may include a proposal to change a specific commercial use (e.g. office) to another type of use (e.g. formula retail) that is allowed or prohibited in the neighborhood. Allowing a five-foot building height increase to enhance the sidewalk-level retail environment is also a minor zoning change. Any type of proposed change to the code would be developed with the community to determine if there is a desire to make such changes.

To learn more, visit the website of the SF Planning Department, contact the City Hall Liaison for your neighborhood, or contact Meneka Mohan at the Planning Department at

Design for Public Realm Improvements

The “public realm” refers to all streets, plazas and parks accessible to the public. The Planning Department works in a number of ways to make improvements to the public realm. One way is coordinating with the Department of Public Works on implementing the improvements passed in the 2011 streetscape bond, which was passed by San Francisco voters. The bond proposes to repave streets; repair deteriorating bridges, overpasses and stairways; and make traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle and safety improvements.

The City Design Group of the Planning Department is working to design a number of these improvements, many of which overlap with the Invest in Neighborhoods corridors. The Department can also provide specialized public realm design services, such as concept plans for improvements, including temporary measures (such as parklets or plazas) that help calm traffic and improve public space.

To learn more, visit the website of the SF Planning Department.

Pavement to Parks

Pavement to Parks is a collaborative effort between the San Francisco Planning Department, the Department of Public Works, the Municipal Transportation Agency, and the Mayor’s Office. San Francisco’s streets and public rights-of-way make up 25% of the city’s land area, more space than all the park area combined. Many of our streets are excessively wide and contain large zones of underutilized space, especially at intersections. San Francisco’s “Pavement to Parks” program seeks to temporarily reclaim these unused swathes of land and quickly and inexpensively turn them into new public spaces.

To learn more about Pavement to Parks, visit their website.

Jane Warner Plaza

Jane Warner Plaza in the CastroOut of Site Parklet


Community Benefit District Assistance

Community Benefit Districts (CBDs) strive to improve the overall quality of life in targeted commercial districts and mixed-use neighborhoods through a partnership between the City and local communities. Once an area has voted to establish a CBD, local property owners are levied a special assessment to fund improvements to their neighborhood. The funds are administered by a non-profit organization established by the neighborhood.

Currently, San Francisco has 12 neighborhood CBDs:













In addition to our neighborhood-based CBDs, San Francisco has two sector-based Tourism Business Districts:  The Tourism Improvement District and the Moscone Expansion District.


In 2004, the City and County of San Francisco augmented the California Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 with the passage of Article 15 of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code. Article 15 lengthened the initial term that a district could be in place from 5 to 15 years and lowered the weighted petition threshold required to initiate the legislative approval process and the special ballot election from 50% to 30%. This legislation, combined with a new technical assistance program initiated by then Mayor Gavin Newsom through the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), was instrumental in easing the process for the formation of new CBD districts in San Francisco.

In 2012, a CBD Impact Analysis was headed by OEWD. Data was gathered from City agencies, external data providers, Certified Public Accountant audited financial statements, and a survey instrument administered to CBD executive directors. In summary, the data and research synthesized by OEWD’s evaluation provides strong justification for the continuation of City support for the CBD program, and for making new investments in neighborhood commercial districts. The full report can be found here.

For more information on CBD Districts, click here.

For CBD resources, click here.

For more information, visit OEWD’s website or e-mail Crezia Tano at, Chris Corgas at or Richard Kurylo at


Opportunity Site Analysis

Some large underutilized pieces of property in neighborhoods can be developed, re-designed or more intensively used to improve the neighborhood and provide community amenities. The Planning Department can provide technical and design skills to assess the feasibility and viability of different uses on such sites, as well as create design guidelines that reflect community objectives and generate interest in the future of the site. A few examples from recent plans include design and public space guidelines for development of the former-freeway parcels in the Market and Octavia Neighborhood and for the Phelan Loop site on Ocean Avenue.

In 2014 the Planning Department is conducting opportunity site analysis in the Sunset commercial districts (Noriega, Irving and Taraval), Mission Street between Cesar Chavez and Randall, and the Portola. To learn more about this work contact the appropriate City Hall Liaison or Meneka Mohan at the Planning Department at