Business owner says he’s ‘done’ with San Francisco, claims government cares more about injection sites

A longtime owner of multiple businesses in San Francisco, California condemned local leaders for failing to keep the city safe for small businesses.

The SF Chronicle reported that Mark Sackett has owned a “South of Market building with a printmaker, antiques shop and events venue called the Box SF for almost two decades” but now faces “financial ruin because he’s been unable to refinance a $2.5 million mortgage due in February.” As a result, his building is allegedly scheduled to be auctioned “at a massive loss” in January, as he anticipates his other businesses will be forced to close as well.

“Sackett blames widespread drug use, violence and filthy streets in the neighborhood for his inability to address his loan. Since the pandemic, the area has fallen to the worst condition Sackett has ever experienced,” the SF Chronicle reported. 

While 30 lenders have declined to help refinance his businesses, Sackett recounted that 6 of them explicitly stated they “are not making commercial real estate loans in San Francisco due to the state of the city.”

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The SF Chronicle painted a grim picture of criminality surrounding his area.

“Next door is a drug sobering center that opened last year, and Sackett said people will smoke fentanyl at his building’s loading dock,” it reported. “He said his staff used pepper spray on four people trying to break in, and last year, someone attacked him with a knife. A window is currently broken, and he will have to pay around $4,000 to replace it.”

Meanwhile, Sackett has tried to beautify the area by using a city grant to commission a mural and adding planters. However, the area continued to be littered with needles and feces.

Sackett blames city leadership, saying they have failed to help. 

“They don’t even return my calls,” he said. “They care about bike lanes, nonprofits, safe injection sites. … They have just ignored small business.”

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Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who represents the district recalled that the city’s problems have significantly worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic, “especially in terms of the number of shelter-in-place hotels here, and the myriad public safety challenges attributable to open-air drug markets and public drug use.” He added that while he is “optimistic” about some progress in the neighborhood, “for too many businesses like Mark’s, we’re just not recovering fast enough.”

Sackett estimates that he’s lost nearly $250,000 in revenue this year because of cancelations or clients declining to book events at his venue, and he recalled clients have declined to book events because they suspect the neighborhood is too dangerous.

The local business owner noted the irony that the city appears to restrict business owners more than homeless people. 

“I can put a tent in front of someone’s front door and sleep … but the city comes after me for ADA compliance,” he said. 

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