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Is Rent Relief in the Works for SF Restaurants?

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Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
A City Hall resolution might push a statewide rent relief movement for restaurants and others
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Two San Francisco Supervisors are pushing a resolution to waive all rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus crisis.

The 24th of the month is a date that typically means that renters and property owners are casting about for their paper or virtual checkbooks to pay rent and mortgages on their spaces. To say that “this month is different” is an insulting understatement, as everyone from massive local restaurant magnates on down is looking at mounting piles of bills and shrinking (or nonexistent) revenue.

That’s why, Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Matt Haney, and Dean Preston say, they’re proposing a resolution calling for a moratorium on all rent and mortgage payments, the SF Examiner reports. While a ban like this isn’t under local control, the Supes say that the resolution, should it pass, would increase pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom and the federal government to make it official.

“The $1.5 trillion of public money that the Federal Reserve gave to the banks during this time and uncertainty is the money that should pay for this chain reaction,” Ronen says when asked where the money to pay lenders and landlords would come from. “If we expect them to [shelter in place], then we have to provide the solution with this huge amount of debt that they accumulate. It is possible, it is essential.”

For restaurateurs who are seeking relief now, lawyer Jasmine Moy has some tips on how to approach landlords on shutdown-related breaks. “If you can, try to relax and understand that most landlords want you to survive as a business and to stay in their premises,” she says. “Landlords understand that if they were to lose a tenant now, that there’s a great deal of uncertainty about when and how they’ll find the next tenant, and at what price. Their goal is to collect rent and your goal is to have a business that can afford to pay it. We’re all in this together and everyone, including your landlord, wants to see you up and running on the other side of this.”

One San Francisco landlord who has already demonstrated some flexibility on the matter are Deborah and Jerry, who own 1151 Folsom Street, the location of SoMa nightclub Raven Bar. According to Raven marketing director Sean Colin, Deborah and Jerry “have waived Raven’s April rent expense and have allowed the club to defer May’s rent over a period of two years,” during the state-mandated closure of bars and restaurants.

The building owners, who owned a bar in Raven’s space during the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, told Raven that they recalled “the extensive damage to South of Market and the detrimental effect the year long closure of the Bay Bridge had on their business and their employees,” and didn’t want the same thing to happen today. “It is Raven’s hope that other building owners will also find creative ways to work with tenants to help absorb the negative impact that COVID-19 is currently having on the economy,” Colin says. “By working together, communities everywhere can get through this health emergency and all be stronger for it.”

And in other news...

  • The city and county of San Francisco announced its first death from COVID-19, a man in his 40s with “multiple, significant underlying health conditions,” officials said Tuesday night. As of that evening, 152 cases of the virus had been reported in San Francisco. [KPIX]
  • San Francisco’s central government has launched a resource page for the city’s food and restaurant workers, including safety recommendations and information on what employers must provide them. [SF Gov]
  • Mission District pub The Liberties allows takeout and delivery customers to buy a second meal for $5, which they’ll then deliver to a food insecure person in the area. [ABC 7]
  • Starbucks is down to just five locations that are still open in SF. [Hoodline]
  • San Francisco-based Yelp, the platform that made $1 billion last year and is something that many restaurants might prefer folks not use, is adding donation buttons to listings for businesses that have GoFundMes. [SF Business Times]
  • Local pizza spot Fiorella is seeing so much takeout business that they’re changing how they manage orders. [KRON 4]
  • Tenderloin restaurants are just trying to find a way forward, as grant programs won’t be enough to help them return to business as usual. [Hoodline]
  • San Francisco-based Uber’s food delivery service, Uber Eats, saw a 10 percent surge in orders last weekend. [The Information]

Fiorella

2339 Clement Street, , CA 94121 (415) 340-3049 Visit Website

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