Business owners say they're being crushed by SF construction projects

San Francisco construction projects are negatively impacting nearby businesses and now the city is looking at how best to use city funds to keep those businesses afloat.

The city is debating whether businesses impacted by city construction projects on Van Ness Avenue should get 0% interest loans or grants to help them.

Construction on Van Ness Avenue has been underway three years and now has a projected completion date of 2021.

Businesses such as Crossfit Golden Gate said the torn up roads and sidewalks and constant work are all impacting their business. 

"This project is dismantling my business and not slowly over time. It's crashing," said Danielle Rabkin, Crossfit Golden Gate's owner.

Rabkin started her business seven years ago. She said business has dropped steadily since construction started. If she doesn't get help soon, she said she doesn't think the gym will make it. 

"I've had barricades and fences and less foot traffic. It's darker," said Rabkin.  "Someone recently told me they thought I was closed for a few months."

On Tuesday San Francisco leaders debated how best to save businesses like Rabkin's.

Five-million dollars has already been set aside in a construction mitigation fund.

The question now: Whether the city should issue 0% interest loans. Those would be self-sustaining for future projects as they are repaid, or as Supervisor Shamann Walton and other supervisors are now advocating, a grant system to save struggling businesses. 

"Loans are not going to help solve the problem for businesses, small businesses in particular, that are losing money due to construction," said Walton. "So, we have to give them money and give them grants to keep them whole."

Rabkin said if the city does help her, and she manages to continue running her business, she doesn't know how she'll bounce back financially while paying on a new loan. 

"It doesn't make any sense. I need a subsidy for the income I've lost, not a loan to just survive this," she said.

City leaders and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are expected to formalize their plan to help businesses by September.