San Francisco

San Francisco's Tenderloin Business Owners Say They Want Their Taxes Back

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Some business and property owners in San Francisco’s Tenderloin said the neighborhood is on a verge of collapse, due to recent crime and drugs in the area.

They said since the city hasn’t done its job, they want the taxes they paid this year back in their wallets.

Business owner Chai Saechao said he will be celebrating five years of "Plant Therapy" next year. But he said that it’s becoming harder to stay in business in the Tenderloin.

“A lot of businesses have closed down and you know, the best restaurants have closed down. So, it’s very sad to see,” Saechao said.

The Tenderloin Business Coalition, a group of mostly business owners and property owners said the root of the problem is the open-air drug dealing. They said it is happening because of ineffective policing.

The group said the city has “abandoned its commitment” to provide safety and they want a refund of all sales and property taxes paid this year.

They have started a petition. So far, about 150 people had signed the petition.

Saechao told NBC Bay Area that he plans to sign the petition.

“Paying those taxes does add up," he said. "I think that a lot of these businesses that have survived the pandemic and survived everything else, now, it's just like hanging on by a thread,” he said.

The coalition is also demanding immediate removal of all drug dealers, ongoing and rigorous law enforcement and a meeting with San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

The Mayor’s Office said in part, “Mayor Breed has been clear on our need to end open air drug dealing in the Tenderloin. The Mayor knows this is challenging work, and she is partnering with the District Attorney, who is focused on bringing prosecutions and supporting the police department to make the arrests.”

San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston has another concern and wrote in part: “I share the frustration of Tenderloin residents and small businesses who often feel ignored by the city.”

Preston went on to say with the recent closure of the Tenderloin Center that he is worried that they "will see even more devastation on the streets, now that over 400 folks, who visited the center have nowhere to go."

In August, the Castro Merchants Association threatened to withhold taxes unless the city did something about similar problems.

The association said it met with the city and different departments many times since to get updates on what it’s doing to address those concerns.

Now, the Tenderloin group waits to see if any of it works. Just as the coalition waits to see if their petition will save their neighborhood.

“I do want to see a change in the Tenderloin. I would love to, you know, keep my business there,” Saechao said.

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