With an annual Gross Domestic Product of some $2.5 trillion — making us the 10th richest among all countries in the world — California has more than enough wealth to go around. The Bay Area has an annual GDP of $535 billion, and is home to the two most affluent metro areas per capita in the country — San Jose/Santa Clara at $100,115 and San Francisco/Oakland at $78,844. San Francisco proper attracts a larger volume of venture capital investment — $7 billion a year– than anywhere else in the country; Silicon Valley, meanwhile, boasts $4 billion a year in “vc” investment.
And yet, since the Great Recession of 2008, our schools, community colleges, housing, and the social safety net have been slashed by billions of dollars. To take but one metric, California is dead last in terms of our teacher-to-student ratios in public schools.
The fact is that our city and state have more than enough wealth to provide for people’s basic human needs and create opportunity for all, but we’re not sufficiently taxing the large corporations who can afford to pay more.
Today we’re fighting back.
SF Rising has joined Make It Fair, a coalition of civil rights, religious, community and labor groups dedicated to rebuilding our state. After examining the problem from many angles, it is clear to all of us that making the commercial property tax system fair is the best solution. We propose to close loopholes by assessing commercial and industrial property at fair market value, ensuring that big corporations and wealthy commercial property pay their fair share of property taxes.
Our policy would bring in some $691 million each year in San Francisco alone — and $9 billion statewide.
Some perspective: Mayor Lee is currently considering sending to the ballot a $250 million affordable housing bond, that, maximally, would build 714 units of affordable housing (and almost certainly less!). The Make It Fair policy, by contrast, would provide funding each year for 1,974 units of affordable housing we so desperately need!
There’s no doubt that going up against big companies and wealthy commercial property owners will be tough. There are large amounts of money at stake – money that will make a real difference for our kids, our seniors and the future of San Francisco and California. We expect a fight. But we also know that the success of our communities depends on it.
To add your name to the list of endorses, visit the campaign website. For more information about the Make It Fair campaign in San Francisco, contact SF Rising Coordinator Mario Yedidia (415-684-3473, firstname.lastname@example.org).