In the nineteenth century it was known as Paris of the West, also the Barbary coast, you were never supposed call it “Frisco” but the nickname keeps popping up now and again in popular culture. San Fran is another nick-name, the locals don’t seem to like that one either. What do they Like? City by the Bay, however it’s a bit wordy. Residents also refer to it as “The City” which tome sounds too generic.
I picked two other nicknames here, Golden City and Fog City, to represent two very different worlds of tech billionaires and the homeless, concerning San Francisco’s Proposition C ballot. According to Ballotpedia Proposition C is a gross receipts tax initiative for homeless services. And by authorizing the city and county of San Francisco to fund housing for homelessness services by taxing certain businesses at the certain rates. 0.175 to 0.69 for businesses with over 50 million in gross annual receipts, or 1.5 of payroll expenses for businesses with over 1 billion in annual receipts.
At this point you could say San Francisco has a world- famous homeless problem. But it’s also, of course, an exquisite city which the whole world wants to visit, if not live in. It’s homeless problem can be traced at least as far back as the Great Depression when many started sleeping in the city parks. The hippies of the 1960s did as well. But according to an article written by Jay Barman of SF’ist, today’s homeless problem in San Francisco started becoming visible back in 1982. Due in part to the defunding of public housing by Reagan era conservatives, on the state level from 16 billion in 1979 to only 1 billion in 1983.
When tech companies started moving into San Francisco in droves, housing real estate prices began to soar by 80% from 2012 to 2017. Traditional Barrio and artist neighborhoods like the Mission District have for most Americans become unaffordable. Which in turn adds to numbers of people on the street.
Currently the homeless problem is hurting San Francisco tourism. Visitors from all over the world complain about seeing people shooting up, eating out of garbage cans, or feces on the sidewalks. This summer a big medical group pulled out its convention, citing crime and unsafe streets.
Proposition C is hotly debated within the Tech community. A big proponent of the homeless sales tax, is the CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff. Benioff is a fourth generation San Franciscan known for his generosity who says “The homeless problem has outgrown philanthropy alone and its time for a tax requiring all rich companies to step forward and help deal with the crisis,” Opponents include the city’s mayor, London Breed, who claims it’s not accountable, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey who says “I trust the mayor with these things that’s why we put her there.”
Jack Dorsey has said more things against Proposition C, but one must note his companies have been benefiting from something called the Central Market Tax exclusion, also known as the Twitter tax break. Marc Benioff says “One reason the mayor may be opposing it is that she wants to see money right away,” and that “With this tax in place she’ll see it soon enough,” London Breed also says “We can’t afford to lose even middle- class jobs.” But a city wide analysis concluded that it would have a minimal effect on jobs. Dorsey also says that tech industries have brought a lot to San Francisco, and he hints about Twitter leaving if Proposition C is passed. My reaction is let Twitter leave, they won’t go far. If they really wanted to save on taxes they’d be in a place like Chama New Mexico or Kimball South Dakota.
With the midterms coming up in just a few hours, eyes are on San Francisco. Will the vote be for the Golden City techies to help out the Fog City homeless, or not?