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South City Officials Optimistic About Local Economy

Budget report shows recent uptick in local tourism, retail and real estate markets.

 

According to projections presented at last night's City Council meeting, the local economy in South San Francisco appears to be improving.

In discussions leading up the council's unanimous approval of the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, city officials painted a optimistic vision of the local economic outlook.

Much of the positivity was based on significant upticks in the city's hotel industry, which has seen growth to the tune of approximately 17% in room occupancy rates from the year prior, according to city documents.

And the figures presented at the meeting Wednesday night did not account for the influx of visitors who earlier this month stayed in South San Francisco while attending the US Open Golf Tournament.

City officials also believe that the tourism and hotel industry will continue to gain momentum, as the America's Cup boat races will soon be coming to the Bay Area, and this year the San Francisco International Airport is expecting its busiest summer travel season ever.

The influx of visitors staying overnight in local hotels has a greater impact on city finances than in the past, after voters passed a 1% transient occupancy tax in 2009.

But hotels are not the only thriving local industry, nor is the increased traffic through South San Francisco the only reason for city officials to feel optimistic about revenue projections.

According to a staff report, retail tax receipts in South San Francisco are up 6% from the year prior, which is being driven by increased business at department stores as well as wholesale building suppliers.

As well, the local residential real estate market seems to show signs of improvement, according to city documents.

More homes sold last year at a higher price than in previous years, but the median home value in South San Francisco dropped from $450,000 to $431,000 this year, said the documents.

Overall, initial expectations are that the city will go into the new fiscal year with a $1.1 million surplus, before funds are transferred for capital improvements, department equipment services, and a variety of other demands. Undesignated reserve funds appear healthy as well.

But it is also clear that officials expect to feel the pain of dissolving the city's redevelopment agency for years to come, and fear that it will be difficult to generate new local business opportunities.

In other business at the meeting, council member unanimously agreed to carry over the rate schedule for water services to residents and businesses for the upcoming year.

But some officials indicated that changes to the schedule may be on the horizon when the council readdresses the issue next year, at which point they will charged with the duty of setting a new multi-year rate plan.

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