San Francisco Voters Will Have a Chance To Undo Regulations Strangling Small Businesses

Christian Britschgi

San Francisco is famous for the miles of red tape and regulation that make it difficult to launch a business. Come November, voters will get a chance to take an ax to those innovation-killing restrictions

On the city ballot this year is Prop H, a 100-page update of San Francisco’s commercial zoning and permitting regime that will make it easier and faster for entrepreneurs to get city permission slips to set up shop or readapt their space, all while preventing nosey neighbors from bringing everything to a halt.

“In an environment where we are on track to lose over half of our restaurants pre-COVID, we need to make it as easy as possible to start a new business and get it off the ground,” says Sharky Laguana, president of the San Francisco Small Business Commission and a backer of Prop H. “San Francisco is the hardest place, or one of the hardest places, to start a business in America. We need to become the easiest place.”

Small business owners in the city, he says, face a lot of headwinds, including high labor costs, high rents, and competition from e-commerce. Making everything worse is the lengthy amount of time it takes to get city approval for the most basic things.

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