Supervisor Hillary Ronen today introduced legislation aimed at keeping nearly 100 independent business from getting booted from a sprawling multi-use building on 18th and Treat.
The building, known as ActivSpace, is home to some 300 owner-operated business. Many of them experienced a major jolt two weeks ago when 54 massage therapists and other bodyworkers faced displacement after the Department of Public Health informed them the building was not zoned to accommodate them.
At that time, however, it also became clear that other businesses operating in the space — Ronen’s office conservatively estimates around 100 total — could be in peril as well.
Many of the businesses are health and personal services, including acupuncturists, massage practitioners, hairstylists, tattoo artists, and even psychotherapists. The building is currently zoned for “production, distribution and repair” (PDR), which is meant for businesses like auto mechanics, light manufacturers, and artist spaces.
During the initial scare, Ronen said the potential mass exodus would be an “economic crisis” for the neighborhood. She echoed those statements at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
“Closing nearly 100 small businesses on the same block, all at once, would be an economic crisis for the Mission, a neighborhood already suffering from the displacement of hundreds of small businesses and thousands of working-class residents due to gentrification,” she said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Ronen introduced an ordinance that would give these businesses “amnesty” in the city’s planning code. It would allow all the businesses operating in the space to be considered “legal non-conforming uses” and allow them to remain so long as the owners file for the appropriate permits within 30 days.
The supervisor made sure to note that she supports preserving PDR space in the neighborhood, which typically enables working class industries as well as creative endeavors. Both are scarce in San Francisco.
But seeing that many independently run businesses become displaced would be simply too disastrous.
“The solution I am introducing today strikes the right balance between protecting current small businesses in the shorter term, while ensuring arts and manufacturing space for the long term,” Ronen said.