What Is Business Friendly?

what-is-business-friendlyArticle written by Joshua Genser, Attorney-at-Law (Genser & Watkins), in response to a posting titled “SF Chronicle – Richmond Councilman Ill, Won’t Take Office” on Tom Butt’s E-Forum, posted on January 8, 2013.

Tom Butt claims that the business community equate “green” with anti-business. Tom is wrong. The Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and even Chevron recognize that protecting the environment is as vital to business as to any other sector of our community. We also all recognize that businesses that provide goods and services for the purpose of meeting “green” governmental mandates are a growing portion of our economy, and that several such “green” businesses have opened in Richmond.

Why, then does the business community consider the Richmond Progressive Alliance anti-business? It’s because they put their agendas, including “green” issues and foreign policy, ahead of the ordinary, day-to-day business of running our City:

What business-friendly city, after all, tries to take developable land zoned for industrial development and locally owned away from its owners without compensation?

What business-friendly city tries to tax its local businesses and put them at a competitive disadvantage in comparison with adjacent cities in order to make a symbolic point about excess consumption of sugar nationwide?

What business-friendly city that wants to entice more businesses to move here tries to impose a tax on manufacturing?

What business-friendly city, with the lowest rents in the entire region, tries to impose rent control?

What business-friendly city populates its planning commission with people who have no experience nor expertise in planning, construction, property development or, even property ownership, but who do have an avowed desire to stop development?

What business-friendly city blocks truck access to local industrial businesses with a bicycle lane?

Tom also insists that the new General Plan is business-friendly, noting that it calls for huge increases in local jobs. What Tom fails to mention, however, is that in the massive document is ammunition for anyone who wants to stop development, and precious few strategies for encouraging it.

Jeff Ritterman is the only Richmond Progressive Alliance member who ever made any attempt to understand the perspective of business, and he was excoriated for it by the RPA. Perhaps if anyone else from the RPA ever asked business organizations what they thought of legislative proposals before they were agendized and made some effort to understand that being in business is hugely risky and difficult, the perception of the RPA might change.