Recent Comments


    Struggling San Francisco Small Businesses Hold Peaceful Protest at City Hall

    Supervisor and former San Francisco Bay Times columnist Rafael Mandelman on Tuesday, August 25, joined other city and community leaders at a peaceful protest that brought together leaders from San Francisco business sectors unable to reopen since March and on the verge of complete collapse. The hour-long event drew attention to the problems faced by gyms and other fitness businesses, salons, massage studios, estheticians, tattoo artists, entertainment venues, performers, and more whose industries have been among the most adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Participants at the protest adhered to safety protocols. As Dave Karraker, co-owner of MX3 Fitness in the Castro and Lower Haight, said, “While we wish we didn’t need to gather together in order to focus the city’s attention, these businesses are at the end of their ropes and are about to declare bankruptcy/shut their doors and are desperate to be heard.”

    He was among the speakers at the protest.

    “Let this sink in a minute: the city is standing by and watching not just one business, but entire business sectors in San Francisco literally collapse right before its eyes,” Karraker said during his speech. “More than 5,000 businesses are closed in San Francisco right now … of those more than 2,000 have thrown in the towel and are never coming back. And can you blame them? No substantial financial relief from the city … no guidance on when or how we’re going to reopen. Nothing but silence.”

    He added, “I ask you Mayor Breed—can you imagine how terrifying that is for a small business owner who has spent every single penny of their lifesavings to chase their dream of owning their own business … to not know anything about its future? Nothing. And with that fear, with that absence of information and support from the city, businesses are simply throwing in the towel, leaving more boarded storefronts littering the city.”

    Musician Arya Zarrinkelk from the band Manos Lindas also spoke at the protest.

    “Going into winter, we humbly and respectfully request that the Health Department and the city work with all manner of

    small businesses: be they the catering industry, health and fitness, music venues, theatres, and dance studios to figure out how we can re-open safely,” she said as part of her speech.

    After the protest, Mandelman expressed similar concern. “I am so proud of the Bay Area and our data science and fact-based based response to the public health crisis,” he shared via social media. “But the data science and facts have disappeared around the small businesses that continue to be kept closed without any clarity about when they might be able to reopen, how they might be able to reopen, and how they should be planning.”

    Photos by Rink and Dave Karraker

    Published on August 27, 2020