On Scene with Bill Wilson Ocean Avenue Fire gets City Response

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee met Tuesday August 14 with business and property owners affected by the August 7th fire on the 1500 block of Ocean Avenue to highlight the City’s comprehensive effort to assist in their recovery. The four-alarm fire, which injured two firefighters, affected nine businesses across three buildings and consumed much of the block. The City’s response builds on the work of improving the Ocean Avenue commercial district and the Mayor’s launch of the Invest in Neighborhoods initiative, a renewed effort to marshal City and private sector resources and services to help revitalize the City’s neighborhood commercial corridors, support neighborhood small businesses and boost neighborhood job creation.

“A week ago today, disaster struck these San Francisco businesses, and I want them to know that the City stands with them and will assist in their recovery,” said Mayor Lee. “From keeping the area clean and safe to accelerating permitting to providing individual business assistance, I have directed City departments to work as a team to respond quickly so that these small businesses can re-open as soon as possible.”

The City’s recovery package for Ocean Avenue will include expedited permitting through various City departments, cleaning and hauling services from the Department of Public Works, targeted legal and relocation assistance, marketing, and increased police patrols. The Mayor explained that the City’s response to the fire exemplifies the approach of his new Invest in Neighborhoods program, an interagency initiative that will deploy a set of customized services to 25 neighborhood commercial districts across the City. The recently-approved budget shored up resources for Invest in Neighborhoods, more than doubling the City’s investment in neighborhood economic development.

Mayor Lee directed the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to lead the City’s response and recovery effort for Ocean Avenue. OEWD has already been actively involved in improving the Ocean Avenue commercial district in recent years, assisting with the establishment of their Community Benefit District, the Ocean Avenue Association, and with the recruitment of two grocery stores, a Michelin-recommended restaurant and a full-service bank. Whole Foods at 1150 Ocean Avenue and the Chase Bank branch at 1649 Ocean Avenue are both set to open later this month. Ocean Avenue has not had a full-service grocery store and bank branch since the mid 1990’s.

“The day of the fire we had staff on the street meeting with affected business owners to understand their needs, share information, and develop a business response and recovery strategy,” said OEWD Director Todd Rufo. “While the next few months are going to be tough for the affected businesses, I am confident that this is just a temporary setback and that, with the City’s help, Ocean Avenue will bounce back. The imminent openings of the new Whole Foods and Chase Bank could not have come at a better time.”

“We thank Mayor Lee and City staff for their attentiveness to the businesses and property owners on Ocean Avenue,” said Ocean Avenue Association Interim Director Dan Weaver. “We believe that working hand in hand we can speed the recovery of this block and continue the work of making Ocean Avenue a thriving shopping and eating destination for the nearby neighborhoods and the City as a whole.”

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