Mysterious donor helping San Francisco businesses survive during COVID-19 crisis

Business owners in one San Francisco neighborhood are thanking a mysterious benefactor who is making it possible for them to open their doors and take their business out onto the street. The person behind this act of charity wants to remain anonymous.

San Francisco's Polk Neighborhood looks like many other neighborhoods with closed businesses in response to the restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic. A loosening of restrictions means businesses and restaurants can open up on the sidewalk and into the parking lane, provided they can set up barricades to protect shoppers and diners from passing vehicles.

It's a cost few businesses can afford at this time according to the Discover Polk Community Benefit District. 

"They're hundreds of dollars a month per business depending on how big the space is to rent," said Bleiman from the DPCBD. "These are businesses that don't have $5, they don't have $1. They're in the red in a way that that they've never ever been before."

Now a mysterious neighbor has stepped forward, fronting enough money to make sidewalk and street openings a reality for multiple locations for months. 

Bleiman spent a part of his day ordering and working out the logistics of ordering the barricades and working out logistics for nearby business owners isn't saying exactly how much, but he is saying for it's a welcome relief for businesses that desperately need it. 

"It's a feel good story, and you know what, it's a tangible thing that a really awesome person did for that neighborhood, for the neighborhood that that person loves. And the person did it anonymously," said Bleiman. "Which makes it so much cooler."

Jay Cheng from San Francisco's Chamber of Commerce heard about the mysterious benefactor and would like to see that same generosity repeated in other neighborhoods throughout the city. 

"Businesses are facing the same struggles in all those merchant corridors," said Cheng. "And if we have someone who steps up in each one of those merchant corridors and helps make this happen a world of good can happen from that."

 The Discover Polk Community Benefit District is also looking to launch a delivery program later this month modeled after a similar program in North Beach. Another way to encourage locals to help out local businesses.