Remember 1999, before the burst, when apartments were scarce, startup money abundant, and Don Johnson prowled the streets? Well, the glory days of Nash Bridges could be here again soon.

About $400,000 annually in rebates are expected to be available to film and television production companies using San Francisco as a backdrop, after legislation extending the current rebate program — which expires at the end of the month — to 2012 sailed through committee on Wednesday.

Authored by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, the rebate program is expected to bring more productions like NBC’s Trauma — which will begin shooting on Treasure Island next month, after introducing itself to town with a giant fireball in April — to the City and County. That will in turn bring local production jobs and bring dollars to local businesses, making the investment on the city’s side well worth it.

“This is not a program designed for (companies) to come and film a commercial with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and then go back to LA,” Supervisor Bevan Dufty said. “There’s meaningful investment (required)… and there are limitations.”

Among them are limitations on paying for police protection, which was a sticking point with an earlier version of the rebate program. Under the current program, production companies will be off the hook for paying for cops, unless a production requires more than four police officers standing guard for 12 hours or more.

But the rebate program is not recession proof. Original versions of the program called for maximum rebates of $600,000 to be paid out; now the most a film crew can hope to recoup would be $400,000.

Not that most companies would come anywhere close to grabbing that much back from the city — Oscar-winning MILK, the most notable production within SF boundaries in quite some time, would only have netted $180,000 back under the new rules, according to an estimate.

Barring complete and utter reversal of fortune, the rebate program will go live after a mostly-perfunctory vote at the full Board on Tuesday.

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