Once again, San Francisco voters see eye-to-eye with the Chamber when it comes to the economy. Earlier this year, the Chamber’s CityBeat poll revealed that like the Chamber, voters believe jobs and the economy are the city’s top issues. This week, our shared priorities were again in the spotlight when the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) released controversial poll results on the potential new tax measures for the November General Election Ballot.
With the exception of a small surcharge on the Vehicle License Fee (VLF), voters again opposed every tax polled, according to the survey commissioned by the SFCTA. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius reported, “when it comes to the hotel, parking, business and real estate transfer tax, the voters had four responses: no, no, no and hell no.”
For the Chamber, voters’ opinions come as no surprise. In recent years, the cost of doing business in our city for small businesses has increased by approximately 40 percent. The private sector has shed more than 40,000 jobs. And more than 13 million square feet of office space sits vacant in San Francisco today. Clearly, now is not the time for new taxes.
Only an economic resurgence can help to reverse these unfortunate fiscal realities. This resurgence must start with a thriving business environment that creates jobs, grows the economy and generates tax revenue. Added burdens on business at this point in our city’s economic recovery will only put more jobs at risk and prolong the economic downturn that has impacted so many San Francisco businesses and residents.
One clear case in point is the two percent hotel occupancy tax increase placed on the November ballot by the Labor Council. If passed by voters, this tax will actually kill 2,026 jobs and eliminate $75.5 million in wages, according to national estimates from the American Economics Group.
Other taxes being considered by the Board of Supervisors will also be harmful to our economy. The property transfer tax would raise the tax on the sale of residential and commercial prosperities by as much as 33 percent – to become the highest in the region. The new parking tax increase would raise rates by 35 percent – 600% higher than the average of neighboring cities. The business rent tax would create a new tax burden for thousands of local businesses already struggling to operate in our high-cost city.
As we wait to see what tax measures will ultimately make their way onto the November ballot, the Chamber has joined together with a growing coalition of business groups to stand-up against new and increased taxes that will harm our city’s economic recovery. Our group, called Economic Recovery SF, will loudly oppose these harmful initiatives in the months ahead and encourage more productive solutions to revitalize our economy. We invite you to learn more and join us at www.economicrecoverysf.com.