Economy cools small-business climate 

Even for gas station owners, economic times are rough.

David Sahagun has owned the Chevron station at Castro and Market streets since 1979 and the Chevron on California at Steiner streets since 1992. With prices up, it means his costs go up as well, meaning he has less money to replace equipment and supplies.

Sahagun, 55, was one of 190 small-business owners in The City who took part in the recent Small Business California survey, which took the temperature of 629 small business owners across California.

The results were cool at best, with 62 percent saying California is heading in the wrong direction and 66 percent calling the business climate for small business in the state "poor" or "very poor," according to the data.

"I’m very pessimistic," Sahagun said. "Our main problems are costs that are just out of control."

The survey was the fourth annual analysis put together by Small Business California, a nonpartisan business-advocacy organization located in The City. Every county in the state is represented in the survey.

Scott Hauge, the president of Small Business California, said the pessimism about owning a small business in the state stemmed partially from a feeling the voices of small business go unheard in Sacramento and the high cost of doing business in the state.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said Thursday that The City could not compete as the cheapest place to do business and should not because it would "take away all the advantages of doing business in San Francisco."

"One could extend that out to the rest of the state. We won’t be the cheapest state because we provide so much more than other states," Newsom said. "And what that does is invite a work force that’s second to none in the country."

Because of the high cost of doing business in The City — which stems in part from high property costs, a high minimum wage, paid sick leave and mandated employer fees for health care — a small-business assistance center and several tax reduction programs, such as the green tax and biotech tax credit,have been implemented, Newsom said.

But it is tough to get over those taxes and fees, Sahagun said.

"The pressures put on by government mandates, taxes, fees and regulations are just becoming overbearing," he said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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