Legacy Business Registry

BackgroundRoxie Theater in the Castro.

In March 2015, the Board of Supervisors approved Ordinance No. 29-15 amending the Administrative Code to direct the Small Business Commission to establish a Legacy Business Registry. The purpose of the Legacy Business Registry is to recognize that longstanding, community-serving businesses can be valuable cultural assets to the City.  In addition, the City intends that the Registry be a tool for providing educational and promotional assistance to Legacy Businesses to encourage their continued viability and success. In November 2015, voter-approved Local Measure J modified the definition of a Legacy Business and established the Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund, which provides grants to both Legacy Business owners and property owners who agree to lease extensions with Legacy Business tenants.

The registry is open to businesses that are

  • 30 years or older,
  • have been nominated by a member of the Board of Supervisors or Mayor, and
  • prove that they have made a significant impact on the history or culture of their neighborhood in a hearing before the Small Business Commission.

Only 300 business can be nominated annually, and all applicants must agree to maintain the historic name and craft of their businesses.

The legislation is directly inspired by, and builds upon, San Francisco Heritage’s Legacy Bars & Restaurants initiative launched in 2013.

The Role of the Historic Preservation Commission

The Historic Preservation Commission’s role in the Legacy Business Registry is to provide an advisory recommendation to the Small Business Commission as to whether the small business has contributed to the neighborhood's history and/or the identity of a particular neighborhood or community. Upon receipt by the Planning Department from the Mayor’s Office of Small Business, nominations are automatically placed on the next available agenda for review within 30 days.

A "Legacy Business" is defined as a business that has been nominated by a member of the Board of Supervisors or the Mayor and that the Small Business Commission, after a noticed hearing, determines meets each of the following criteria:

  1. The business has operated in San Francisco for 30 or more years, with no break in San Francisco operations exceeding two years. The business may have operated in more than one location. If the business has operated in San Francisco for more than 20 years but less than 30 years it may still satisfy this subsection (b)(1) if the Small Business Commission finds that the business has significantly contributed to the history or identity of a particular neighborhood or community and, if not included in the Registry, the business would face a significant risk of displacement.
  2. The business has contributed to the neighborhood's history and/or the identity of a particular neighborhood or community. Prior to the hearing, the Small Business Commission, or the Executive Director of the Office of Small Business on its behalf, shall request an advisory recommendation from the Historic Preservation Commission as to whether the business meets the requirement in this subsection (b)(2). If the Historic Preservation Commission does not provide an advisory recommendation within 30 days of receipt of the request, the Small Business Commission shall treat such nonresponse as an advisory recommendation that the business meets the requirement in this subsection (b)(2).
  3. The business is committed to maintaining the physical features or traditions that define the business, including craft, culinary, or art forms.

More information about the Legacy Business Registry and how to apply can be found here.