‘Tech tax’ proposed in San Francisco amid growing tensions over startup boom

These days the Bay Area increasingly seems divided into two factions — the techies and everyone else — and it’s no secret the two groups aren’t always on friendly terms.

A new proposal announced in San Francisco isn’t likely to help them play nice.

A handful of San Francisco supervisors want tech companies in the city — and only tech companies — to pay extra taxes, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The money would go toward addressing the city’s homelessness problem and the high cost of housing.

The measure, backed by three city supervisors and announced last week by Supervisor Eric Mar, would take a 1.5 percent payroll tax from tech companies’ pockets. A group of activists including Maria Poblet, executive director of nonprofit Causa Justa/Just Cause, is leading the charge to get tech companies to pay what the supporters consider to be their fair share. But The New York Times points out the measure is a long shot — it would take the support of six of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors in order to appear on the November ballot, and then it would need approval of two-thirds of voters to take effect.

Even if the “tech tax” never makes it out of the gate, it’s another sign of the growing animosity longtime Bay Area residents are showing toward hoodie-clad techies they blame for clogging the highways, raising rent prices and “gentrifying” neighborhoods that were once eclectic and culturally diverse. Protests have erupted over the Google buses the company pays to shuttle employees to its campus, as well as over evictions that displace non-tech residents.

Some in the tech industry are finding creative ways to appease their neighbors. Mountain View-based accelerator Y Combinator, for example, recently announced two new projects to address income inequality and the affordable housing crisis — a “Basic Income” project that gives Oakland participants money to meet their daily needs, and an initiative to build new cities and do away with entrenched problems such as housing prices.

Photo: The Golden Gate Bridge stands against the darkening sky over Fort Point in 2012 in San Francisco.  (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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  • 101

    SF is nothing more than a welfare City. Tax the rich and give to the poor. These liberal progressive supervisors have no clue on how to do business . The voters there already voted overwhelmingly to get rid of the payroll tax. With a 9 billion dollar budget, what the heck are they doing with all that money.

  • Michael Bender

    “The money would go towards addressing the homeless problem” – so where did the hundreds of millions of dollars already spent on “the homeless problem” wind up? I respectfully suggest that “the homeless problem” is due to the city being a magnet for people that travel here for services and a “homeless advocacy” mentality that doesn’t want to address the problem with realistic (read: uncomfortable) solutions but rather thrives on there being a “homeless problem” in order to justify their own existence, i.e. you never want to cure the patient because if you do, you’l be out of a job.