SF Cashless Ban Legislation: Acceptance of Cash by Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

On February 12, Supervisor Brown introduced an ordinance amending the Police Code to require, in general, that brick-and-mortar businesses accept payment in cash. The ordinance looks likely to pass with enough co-sponsors (Sup. Fewer, Walton, Peskin, Safai, Mandelman, and Ronen as of 2/25) at City Hall. It is currently going through Public Safety as it is an amendment to the Police Code. We are following the bill and will let you know of updates. The legislation excludes food trucks, ride hails, temporary pop-up businesses and Amazon Go, which doesn’t have check-out lines.

This type of legislation is popping up throughout the countryNew Jersey and Philadelphia have passed measures that would ban cashless stores. Other cities including New York City, Washington, and Chicago are also looking at similar legislation. Massachusetts has actually had law since 1978 preventing discrimination against cash buyers at ‘retail establishments’ requiring them to accept cash (it is debated whether restaurants fall into that category.)

The intent of the legislation is not to punish businesses but rather ensure we have an inclusive dining industry for all patrons. We believe there should be more efforts to get city residents banked through programs like Bank on SF as we move toward an increasingly cashless society.

We are working with the Supervisor’s office on stipulations we want made clear including:

  • How would this impact requiring a credit card to hold a reservations as many restaurants do so.
  • Would delivery be required to take cash as well where credit cards are normally taken?

If you have input on the legislation and things you want made clear, please email Chhavi Sahni and chhavi@ggra.org with comments.

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