Overrun by wealthy tech bros, San Francisco’s city board is mulling over a tax on tech companies to aid the rising numbers of homeless pushed out by soaring housing costs, according to The Guardian.
Now city supervisor Eric Mar has presented a 1.5 percent payroll tax on tech companies that have moved downtown, which he hopes will garner over $120 million to house the city’s over 6,600 homeless. This tax follows the 2011 tax break offered to tech companies to open their offices in the city center; by 2014, reports the Guardian, the tax break saved corporations such as Twitter, Spotify and Uber around $34 million.
On the opposite end of Mar’s proposal sits the mayor’s office and representatives like supervisor Mark Farrell, whose district is populated by some of San Francisco’s wealthiest locals. Farrell told the Guardian that “targeting our technology sector and making them out to be villains, simply because they’re trying to create jobs and [build] our local economy, is just a backwards approach.”
Yet the contrast in mentalities can be shocking. In February, a tech bro named Justin Keller, whose startup is located downtown, wrote an open letter the city’s mayor and police chief to “do something” about the growing displaced population in San Francisco, which he called “riff raff” like he was an Aladdin character. Keller didn’t have a plan other than sweep away those in need of help to less visible spots like under the freeway, which is neither safe nor a solution.
Mar’s bill will go before the budget committee on Thursday, though he says they’re not “supportive.” If it passes that round, it might make it to the November voting ballot; if that too fails, he’s planning on introducing a similar proposal with a “general tax that’s easier to get approved.”
San Francisco has had of the highest costs of living in the US for some time. But thanks to the tech boom that’s created jobs, raised housing prices and changed the city’s culture simultaneously, it’s even less feasible for many who’ve spent their entire lives by the Bay. Mar’s tax might not only be a way to alter the ramifications of this shift, but also open a dialogue between new and vintage San Franciscans because the city’s clearly at an impasse.
Read the full Guardian piece here.