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SF offers struggling entertainment venues reprieve with waived fees, taxes

With most entertainment venues unable to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Treasurer José Cisneros announced Monday they will waive approximately $2.5 million in business fees and taxes to support the struggling industry.

Officials said The City will provide relief to approximately 300 permitted entertainment venues with gross receipts of less than $20 million by waving regular license and business registration fees for two years. Additionally, officials said payroll expense tax will be waved for this year.

Stressing the need to protect “San Francisco’s unique and vibrant culture,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement:

“As we recover and keep up our progress on reopening, we want to make sure these businesses are still around to bring music, performances and excitement, as well as provide jobs for so many. Entertainment and nightlife are such an important part of why people live [in] and visit our city, and we hope these additional fee waivers reduce some of the financial stress they’re experiencing.”

Agreeing that entertainment venues draw people to The City, Ben Bleiman, president of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, said:

“We must do all we can to support these businesses, so that we have places to be able to come together once we’re able to come together again.”

Kenneth Lu View of empty stage at The Fillmore in San Francisco, Calif. City officials are waiving some business fees and taxes for San Francisco entertainment venues still shuttered during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fee waivers are among recommendations made by the mayor’s Economy Recovery Task Force. Last month, the task force released final policy recommendations to guide city officials in efforts to support local businesses, ensure safe reopening and help vulnerable communities.

The task force also recommended extension of the Shared Spaces Program that allows businesses, such as restaurants, to utilize sidewalk, parking and nearby outdoor spaces. The task force report said extending the program offers businesses “certainty that the program will be a worthwhile investment” and incentivizes them to make the spaces attractive.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said last week that the Shared Spaces Program will extend through June 30 of next year — it was scheduled to end in December. Some businesses will be required to renew permits.

More than 1,800 businesses have been granted Shared Spaces permits since the program launched in June, the transit agency said.

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