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Tech Tax to Be Added to San Francisco’s November Ballot

The proposal championed by SF Supervisor Eric Mar would have imposed a 1.5 percent payroll tax on technology companies.

by Emily Green, San Francisco Chronicle / July 29, 2016
San Francisco City Hall Flickr/Sergio Ruiz

(TNS) -- San Francisco supervisors have slowly whittled down the number of measures on the November ballot.

The number of city measures will still likely total more than in any recent election — the final tally won’t be known until next week, as supervisors have until Tuesday to remove them — but at least voters can expect on the order of 25 measures instead of 40.

John Avalos tabled his proposed tax on gas and nonrenewable energy. Scott Wiener abandoned his proposed parcel tax to pay for maintenance of its street trees. Avalos and Wiener also tabled a proposed half-cent sales tax for transportation, after a majority of the supervisors threw their support behind a three-quarters cent sales tax to fund both transportation and homeless services.

Another measure that is likely to disappear is a proposed tax on tech companies designed to help alleviate the city’s housing and homeless woes. The initiative, championed by Eric Mar, would have imposed a 1.5 percent payroll tax on technology companies. With time running out to place it on the ballot, the measure appears to lack the needed support of six supervisors.

“It seems that a majority of my colleagues want to limit the number of revenue measures,” Mar said. “At this point, there doesn’t appear to be enough support at the board to move this forward now on the ballot. But I and our coalition of community groups want this to move forward in the future.”

While all tax initiatives must go before voters, there are still several measures on the ballot that could be enacted legislatively. The supervisors put them on the ballot as a way to elevate their own name recognition, or because they don’t think the measure will pass at the board — or some mix of the two.

A handful of such measures are still lingering on the ballot, including competing proposals by moderate Mark Farrell and progressive Aaron Peskin about how to address homeless camps.

Wiener is also standing by his measure that would require the Police Department to operate a neighborhood crime unit of at least 60 officers — a staffing choice usually left to the police chief. And Jane Kim, Wiener’s opponent in the race for state Senate, is pushing forward with her ballot measure requiring a conditional use permit in Districts Six and Nine for the conversion of property now designated for production, distribution or repair.

©2016 the San Francisco Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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