The Potrero View, San Francisco’s longest-running neighborhood newspaper, was added to the City’s Legacy Business Registry earlier this year. The Registry recognizes venerable community-serving enterprises as valuable cultural assets, with educational and promotional assistance provided to support their continued viability. To date 239 companies have been listed on the Registry.
Administered by the San Francisco Office of Small Business, the Registry’s goal is to preserve establishments that meet Legacy Business Program criteria, which include that the enterprise has operated in San Francisco for 30 or more years; adds to a neighborhood’s history and/or identity; and is committed to maintaining its traditions.
“The Legacy Business Registry honors those businesses that have contributed to the unique fabric, culture and vitality of San Francisco,” said Office of Small Business Director, Regina Dick-Endrizzi. “The City’s longstanding businesses have withstood the test of time and continue to contribute to San Francisco’s special character. They play an instrumental role in meeting the needs of the neighborhoods, supplying local jobs and providing communities with crucial gathering places. The Legacy Business Registry recognizes the hard work of those entrepreneurs who took a chance to start, stay and grow a business in San Francisco. Through the Registry, the Office of Small Business offers marketing and supportive resources to ensure Legacy Businesses thrive and continue to add to San Francisco’s vibrancy well into the future.”
Although 30 years of continuous operation is normally required, a business that’s functioned in San Francisco for more than 20 years may be placed on the Registry if the Small Business Commission finds that it’s significantly contributed to a community’s history and, if excluded from the Registry, would face a significant displacement risk.
Legacy Businesses have access to the Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund, approved through Proposition J in 2015. The Fund offers two grants; the Rent Stabilization Grant for landlords of Legacy Businesses, and the Business Assistance Grant for Legacy Businesses. The Rent Stabilization Grant provides incentives for property owners to offer leases of ten or more years to Legacy Businesses. The Business Assistance Grant can be used to promote the long-term stability of Legacy Businesses or help them remain in San Francisco, through capital improvements, rent subsidies, relocation within the City, marketing, professional services, and other activities.
Demand for the two grants exceeded available funding in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the San Francisco Business Times reported last July.
To gain Legacy status, a business must undertake a rigorous application process that begins with a nomination from the Mayor or member of the Board of Supervisors, includes providing an historical narrative accompanied by supporting documents and photographs, and culminates when the enterprise is approved by the Small Business Commission.
District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton nominated the View for Legacy status, after the publication completed a questionnaire his office had prepared to establish whether it met key criteria.
“An average of 66 businesses have been added to the Legacy Business Registry each fiscal year starting in 2016-17,” reported Gloria Chan, Director of Communications for the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The Small Business Commission, which makes the final determination as to whether to include a business on the Legacy Business Registry, has not yet rejected a Registry applicant. However, some businesses have applied for the Legacy Business Registry and have not completed their applications because the business did not meet all three business eligibility criteria outlined in the Registry application.”
Five other businesses received Legacy Business status in the same cohort as The View, two of which were also nominated by Supervisor Walton: Eclectic Cookery, at 103 Horne Avenue, and Lorna Kollmeyer Ornamental Plaster, in the Hunters Point Shipyard, Building 115. Commissioners murmured approvingly during the hearing that it was unusual for the same District Supervisor to be the nominator of three businesses in a single session, or for that many at one time to be located in the same District. Also receiving status were Adobe Books and Arts Cooperative, at 3130 24th Street, chosen by District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen; Courtney’s Produce, at 101 Castro Street, designated by District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman; and Gamescape, at 333 Divisadero Street, selected by then-District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown.
“Participating in the design and launch of the Legacy Business Program was the highlight of my tenure as a Small Business Commissioner, and approving legacy business applicants was my favorite part of the job,” said Mark Dwight, owner of Rickshaw Bagworks, at 904 22nd Street. Dwight served two four-year terms on the Small Business Commission before he retired from the post last year.
It takes at least nine weeks for an application to be processed by the Office of Small Business, including four weeks for the Historic Preservation Commission to review and vote on the application; and two and a half weeks for the Small Business Commission to do the same. There’s presently a queue of applications being evaluated.
“The Potrero View is nearing a half-century of local coverage,” Richard Kurylo, Legacy Business Program Manager, told Commissioners. “In February 2019, long-time publisher Ruth Passen passed away but her legacy lives on through the success of the paper under the helm of Steven Moss.”
“The founders of The Potrero View relentlessly focused on the now, the news of the day,” Moss said. “Almost 50 years later they’d be surprised and pleased to emerge as a Legacy Business, particularly as a survivor of the steady disappearance of newspapers. Of course, there is the irony that the View’s future is by no means secured.”
Another San Francisco Neighborhood Newspaper Association publication, San Francisco Bay View, founded in 1976, received Legacy Business status in 2017.
Other Mission Bay or Potrero Hill businesses on the Registry include World Gym, at 190 De Haro, and the Bay View Boat Club, at Pier 52, 489 Terry A. Francois Boulevard. Both were added in 2019.
The Good Life Grocery, opened in 1974 at 1524 20th Street, and Goat Hill Pizza, launched the following year at 300 Connecticut Street, meet program criteria. Their owners plan to embark on the application journey this year, and were excited to learn that The Potrero View had gotten onto the Registry.
“My husband, Lester Zeidman, worked on The Potrero View for many years when Ruth Passen was editor,” said Kayren Hudiburgh, owner of The Good Life Grocery. “Lots of good times and hard work were spent taking pictures, writing articles, and being a part of the production process with The View. He and I both consider it a very special and valuable community asset. Having a neighborhood newspaper is essential to the communication among neighbors, and for analysis of what’s going on all around us. It helps us feel connected to one another. Our advertising helps to support that endeavor. We love The View and our customers look forward to picking up their paper from our little news rack. We advertise in The View to support the paper with a full-page ad. We want The View to survive!”
The Good Life Grocery’s second location opened in Bernal Heights in 1991. “The Good Life would be honored to be among their names on the Registry” Hudiburgh said. “Filling out the application and applying has been on my list of things to do for a while, but there always seem to be other things that need our attention in the day-to-day operations of two neighborhood grocery stores. It is increasingly difficult to operate a small business today and I salute all those ahead of us that have made it through the years.”
Goat Hill Pizza also added locations after launching its signature store on the Hill. Applying for status requires a deep dive into compiling historical records and supporting documents, said Philip DeAndrade, one of the original co-owners.
“We thought we’d spend some time reviewing The View archives,” DeAndrade said, laughing as recalled that when he’d done some initial research, he turned to the month following Goat Hill Pizza’s opening in November 1975, “And there in the December issue was Sally Taylor’s review of Goat Hill Pizza! It said, “Good food has finally come to Potrero Hill!”
The article was headlined, “Palate Pleasing Pizza.”
“You asked what the relationship Goat Hill Pizza has had over the years with The View,” DeAndrade said. “Let me just say how valuable it is; I think it’s a love affair!”