Castro Merchants, with the help of Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, have proposed citywide legislation that will reimburse small business owners up to $2,000 for storefront windows broken by vandalism or break-ins.
This program, which would be run by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, will reimburse businesses for up to two incidents a year if they file a police report and claim with the city.
Castro Merchants completed a study the past year called “Castro Business Storefront Glass Damage Recorder” that recorded broken storefront glass in the Castro, showing at least 93 incidents of broken storefront windows at Castro businesses since January of last year, totaling more than $168,000 in damages.
“We are very pleased to see Supervisor Mandelman taking up this legislation and pushing the City to do a better job protecting San Francisco’s vital small business community,” said Masood Samereie, president of Castro Merchants.
Mandelman said that “paying to fix smashed windows multiple times a year should not be normalized as just another cost of doing business, another tax paid by San Francisco’s businesses and residents.”
Sebastian Jellema, the store manager at Rolo, a clothing store in the Castro, said breaking windows has become “an epidemic, it’s insane.”
In part, he attributed the increase to the fact that the mental health issues of residents living on the street have gotten so bad that homeless people have nothing else to do than smash windows at 3 a.m.
According to Jellema, other nearby businesses in the Castro, such as MX3 Fitness, Crystal Way, and CoreMVMT, have also struggled to keep up with repairs for vandalized windows.
Although window break-ins in the Mission have not become as commonplace as in the Castro, there still have been broken windows, including at the Money Mart on Valencia and 16th Streets, which took place last week.
Mandelman says he “hopes that this legislation will be a temporary measure that becomes unnecessary as San Francisco gets a handle on property crime and finds appropriate interventions to bring unhoused folks with severe mental illnesses indoors. But in the meantime, it’s the least we can do to support our small businesses.”