November 2018: Vote YES on Prop C for a Healthy SF

San Francisco League of Conservation Voters endorses Yes on Proposition C, the “Our City, Our Home” ballot measure. Prop C aims to build on San Francisco’s current efforts to address homelessness and protect those vulnerable to becoming homeless in a holistic way. It would raise about $300 million per year through a gross-receipts tax on high-earning businesses, doubling San Francisco’s current funding to address homelessness.

Where the money comes from

With Prop C in place, the city would set a gross receipts tax on SF businesses whose gross receipts are $50,000,000 or more. (Or, for certain businesses that currently pay the City’s Administrative Office Tax, the tax will be imposed as a payroll tax rather than on gross receipts.) In its Economic Impact Report, the City Controller estimates that 300-400 local businesses would be affected by the tax, out of more than 13,000 that currently pay gross receipts tax. The information and financial services industries will likely pay the most of the tax, as these are the highest-earning.

Where the money goes

Prop C’s revenues will be deposited into a dedicated fund and allocated as follows:  

    • 50% on permanent housing;

    • At least 25% to mental health and substance abuse programs;

    • Up to 15% to homelessness prevention; and

    • Up to 10% for navigation centers and community shower and bathroom programs.

Prop C also establishes an advisory committee that will provide annual recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on which programs to direct funds for that year. In addition, the effectiveness of the program will be evaluated in 2022.

The discussion on Prop C

Homelessness is arguably the most dire issue in San Francisco today. There has been a lot of discussion about the how to address it, and the impacts this proposition will have. The League has talked with both the proponents of and opponents to Prop C.

The main opposition argument is that the additional taxes might result in middle class job loss. The City Controller estimates an average loss of 0.1% of all jobs in the city. In other words, on average over the next twenty years, the city might have 725–875 fewer jobs total. The Controller’s estimates do not account for factors like  the future size of the city’s homeless population in the city, their health outcomes, and the City’s future cost of serving them among others. And to our knowledge, no individual business has publicly stated opposition to Prop C or expressed the intention to move jobs out of the city if this measure passes. While maintaining middle class jobs in San Francisco is important, the estimated jobs impact is far outweighed by the benefits of Prop C.

How Prop C will help

The benefits are numerous. The Controller says that Prop C is expected to reduce the number of homeless people in San Francisco. In addition, providing Prop C funding for services including mental health and homelessness prevention programs is expected to improve health outcomes, reduce acute service costs, and improve the experience of the city for everyone.

Homelessness is an environmental justice issue: the home is the first environment, and without one, people have no security or stability, as well as lacking clean water, toilets, etc. The impacts spread outward, too. Without safe and secure homes, people shelter in public spaces. Litter and waste associated with homelessness results in pollution to city streets, storm sewers, and urban creeks. These impacts can deter people from taking the bus, biking, and walking, resulting in more cars on the road. Prop C would help address these environmental impacts.

A “yes” vote on Prop C is a vote towards reduced homelessness, more much-needed affordable homes, and a cleaner, greener San Francisco. Vote “yes” on Prop C!