SAN FRANCISCO — API Legal Outreach is seeking public support for businesses in San Francisco Japantown.
“San Francisco’s small businesses are just starting to reopen after six months of forced closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the organization said. “They do not have the finances to immediately pay back rent and other charges they have been hit with.
“S.F.’s Japan Center Mall tenants in particular are in jeopardy because two landlords control the majority of property who have not expressed any intention of rent negotiation or understanding that their actions will wipe out a community that has been here for over 130 years. Please help us.”
The organization’s website (www.apilegaloutreach.org) includes a link to an online petition supporting a commercial eviction moratorium ordinance introduced by San Francisco Supervisors Dean Preston (whose district includes Japantown) and Aaron Peskin (whose district includes Chinatown).
The ordinance, which will be considered by the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee Meeting on Monday, Nov. 2, would:
• Provide protection to small businesses, not office tenants or formula retail tenants.
• Extend rent deferral to the date of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order, currently March 31, 2021, as may be extended by any future order by the governor.
• Provide options for tenants with less than 10 employees so they would also have the right to terminate the lease upon payment of the sum of (x) any delinquent rent prior to March 2020, plus (y) 3 months’ rent.
Details: The rent deferred would be based on the size of the tenant:
• Tenants with less than 10 employees would have 2 years to repay the deferred rent
• Tenants with more than 10 employees but less than 25 employees would have 18 months to repay the deferred rent
• Tenants with more than 25 employees but less than 50 employees would have 12 months to repay the deferred rent
“The Japan Center Malls consist of three buildings that span from Laguna to Webster Street on Post Street in San Francisco,” API Legal Outreach said. “Housed within the malls are approximately 50 small businesses that provide culturally authentic goods and services from Japan. It is a destination point for locals, tourists, cultural and historical enthusiasts and culinary fans to come and enjoy an array of Japanese items that are impossible to find elsewhere in a mainstream store or in any other part of the city.
“Some of the business owners have proudly owned their stores for close to 50 years and share their love and passion for their products with each and every customer. They realize that their responsibility goes far beyond owning a business as they are an integral and essential member of the Japantown community who provide not only a tangible product but essential intangible assets such as the education and information of the culture, traditions and history of Japan.
“Without them, S.F. Japantown will lose over 90% of its commercial life and will be unable to maintain, promote and preserve the annual festivals, events and programs that it has sponsored since its inception as a cultural and ethnic district. Without them, we will suffer a deep cultural void of a vibrant and active community.
“Please help us save these businesses. There would be no way to replace the knowledge and wisdom they have shared with us if they are forced to close their doors.
“They are simply asking for a way to create a reasonable plan of rent repayment as they start to rebuild their lives and welcome us back to their businesses again.”
How to Help
• Sign and share the online petition on all of your social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
• Like, follow and share social media posts leading up the Board of Supervisors hearing on Nov. 2.
• Email San Francisco supervisors expressing your support for the ordinance in its entirety by joining the letter-writing campaign.
• Call your district supervisors expressing your support for the ordinance and changes/additions highlighted above (roster with contact info)
• Make a public comment supporting the ordinance at the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee meeting, which starts Monday at 1:30 p.m. Board of Supervisors meetings agendas and minutes: https://sfbos.org/meetings/42
For additional steps, click here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/save-san-francisco-small-businesses?source=email&