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Business Briefs: Businesses, nonprofits urged to seek legacystatus

by Matthew S. Bajko

The Shanti Project, whose supporters rode in last month's<br>Pride parade, is one of several nonprofits that have received legacy business<br>status. Photo: Rick Gerharter
The Shanti Project, whose supporters rode in last month's
Pride parade, is one of several nonprofits that have received legacy business
status. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

LGBT businesses and nonprofits in San Francisco are being encouraged to seek legacy status under a city program that can result in financial benefits and long-term leases.

Steve Adams, a gay man who is vice president of the Small Business Commission, would like to see such entities become legacy businesses ahead of the 2018 Western Business Alliance LGBT Economic Summit and Conference, set to be held in San Francisco in March. The confab brings together LGBT chambers of commerce from six West Coast states and British Columbia, Canada.

"Myself, as a small business commissioner, I am trying to identify LGBT businesses that have been in business over 30 years and recommending them to the mayor and supervisors to recognize as legacy businesses," said Adams, a senior vice president at Sterling Bank and Trust and a former president of the city commission as well as the business association in the city's gay Castro district.

At the urging of gay former Supervisor David Campos , the Board of Supervisors established the legacy business registry in March 2015. That November voters then passed Proposition J, which established the Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund, which allows for $500 grants per full-time employee per year to those businesses or nonprofits listed on the registry.

Landlords who extend the leases of legacy businesses for at least 10 years are then eligible to apply for Rent Stabilization Grants of $4.50 per square foot of space leased per year. The business grants are capped at $50,000 annually; the landlord grants are not to exceed $22,500 in a given year.

The program, overseen by the city's Office of Small Business, is meant to benefit businesses and nonprofits that have operated for at least 30 years in the city and have significantly contributed to the history or identity of a particular San Francisco neighborhood or community. Businesses and nonprofits at least 20 years old that are facing a significant risk of displacement can also apply.

The application process requires several steps, the first being nomination by either the mayor or a supervisor, plus the filing of a written application. The Historical Preservation Commission must then endorse the listing, while final approval lies with the Small Business Commission. As of June 26, 93 local businesses or nonprofits had secured legacy status.

"It is not just LGBT businesses, even a big corporation like Levi Strauss & Co. is a San Francisco legacy business. It should be listed," said Adams. "I think we should list the big ones and the small ones together."

Since the start of the program, six LGBT-owned businesses and three nonprofits focused on the LGBT community have won legacy business status, according to the online registry kept by the small business office.

The LGBT-owned businesses are EROS: The Center for Safe Sex (2051 Market Street), Dog Eared Books (489 Castro Street), Lone Star Saloon (1354 Harrison Street), Moby Dick (4049 18th Street), San Francisco Eagle Bar (398 12th Street), and the Stud Bar (399 Ninth Street).

Also on the list is men's clothing retailer Rolo San Francisco Inc. (2351 Market Street), which is co-owned by Mark Schultz, who is gay. And three straight-owned businesses located in the Castro are on the registry: Anchor Oyster Bar (579 Castro Street), Cafe du Nord (2174 Market Street), and the Cove on Castro (434 Castro Street).

The legacy nonprofits are the Castro Country Club (4058 18th Street), Project Open Hand (730 Polk Street), and the Shanti Project (730 Polk Street #3), the most recent to win approval.

"More nonprofits should apply," said Shanti Executive Director Kaushik Roy. "I think it is a great way to let newer folks in San Francisco know about nonprofits or businesses that helped create the character of San Francisco."

Founded by Charles Garfield, Ph.D., 43 years ago, the agency provides emotional and practical support services to people with life threatening and chronic illnesses, in particular individuals living with HIV or AIDS and women battling cancer. Two years ago Shanti merged with PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support), ensuring that the agency that cares for the pets of people unable to do so themselves didn't close its doors.

In her recommendation letter for Shanti, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim noted the agency serves more than 2,000 city residents per year with close to 90 percent living below the federal poverty line.

"For many longtime San Franciscans, Shanti defines what 'compassionate care' truly means, I offer my whole-heartened endorsement for the legacy business registry," wrote Kim, whose district includes Shanti's Polk Gulch location.

Roy, whose agency leases office space from Project Open Hand, told the Bay Area Reporter that he is unsure of what financial benefits his agency will reap due to being a legacy business. Nonetheless, as he researched the program, he felt Shanti would benefit from it, as would its landlord.

"The more I looked into it, it made more sense for Shanti, if we got approved, to have this recognition for being in San Francisco for so long," said Roy.

He cautioned business owners and nonprofit leaders that the application process is quite lengthy and thorough, likening it to what nonprofits must fill out when seeking grant funding.

"It does take some work," said Roy. "Whether you are a for-profit business or nonprofit, they want to know about the historical impacts you have made in influencing San Francisco's character."

The B.A.R. is in the process of seeking legacy business status. Regina Dick-Endrizzi, executive director of the Office of Small Business, said her office has submitted a request with Mayor Ed Lee to recommend the B.A.R. for listing.

Bob Ross, along with Paul Bentley, founded the B.A.R. on April 1, 1971. Bentley sold his interest in 1975 to Ross, who led the paper as its sole publisher until his death in 2003.

It remains to be seen how, or if, the paper would benefit financially from being listed on the legacy business registry. B.A.R. publisher Michael Yamashita said he had not looked into those details or spoken to his landlord about the possibility of entering into a decade-long lease.

"It is an opportunity to be recognized as a long-standing business in the community," said Yamashita, who expects to have the paperwork filed by the fall.

Adams said the B.A.R. is exactly the type of business within the LGBT community that should be seeking legacy status.

"You play an important part in our community, and not only in our community but the citywide community," he said. "You guys should be a legacy business to me."

To learn more about the city's legacy business program, visit

The full list of legacy businesses and nonprofits can be found online at


Got a tip on LGBT business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail mailto:.



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