Results of SF Rising Spring 2015 Civic Engagement Program
California as a whole and the Bay Area in particular have more than enough wealth to go around. Our state Gross Domestic Product is $2.5 trillion, making us the 10th richest among all countries in the world, while our regional GDP is $535 billion. The Bay is home to the two wealthiest metro areas per capita: 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 venture capital 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.
In order to address these fundamental injustices, earlier this year SF Rising joined Make It Fair, a coalition of civil rights, religious, community and labor groups dedicated to rebuilding our state. We know what the solutions are: to level our playing field, and invest in public programs that will build prosperity for all. In order to accomplish this, we need to make sure that our state’s wealthiest corporations are at the table paying their fair share. And after examining the problem from many angles, it is clear to all of us that making California’s commercial property tax system fair is the missing link to finding our way out of this crisis.
Overwhelming voter support for commercial property tax reform
Last month, in conjunction with our statewide California Calls network and in support of the Make It Fair campaign, SF Rising conducted an intensive fifteen-day civic engagement program. In 9 days of phone banking and 6 days of door-to-door canvassing, we had conversations with 3,336 registered San Francisco voters.
Of those with whom we spoke, 2,893 voters agree California should close tax loopholes and compel commercial and industrial property owners to pay their fair share. That’s an 87% positive response rate!
Even stronger support for more truly affordable housing
San Francisco voters also agree that the solutions begin right here in our city with the building of more deeply affordable housing for working people.
The city is hemorrhaging working families due to years of neglecting our affordable housing and eviction crises. Even while the median income of our city’s residents is rising due to the influx of high wage jobs, too many of the rest of us are being left behind, barely able to afford the high cost of housing. What’s needed is clear: a huge public investment to create and maintain truly affordable housing for San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents.
In addition to talking with voters about the need for statewide commercial property tax reform, then, SF Rising also asked voters about their appetite for truly affordable housing for families. We identified 2,553 voters (or 91% of all respondents) who agree that the market and the City are not producing enough housing that is affordable to families earning $60,000 a year and below.
Who are SF Rising’s supportive voters?
In keeping with our long-term strategy of increasing civic engagement in low-income and immigrant and communities of color, SF Rising concentrated our efforts in the Southeast neighborhoods of the city where our member organizations build their community bases.
As illustrated in the pie chart below, over two-thirds of the supporters of commercial property tax reform with whom we spoke live in supervisorial districts 10 and 11 (880 voters and 977 voters, respectively, out of a total of 2,893).
Of the voters who support more affordable housing for families earning $60,000 a year or less, notable demographics characteristics include the facts that 64% are renters, 23% are African-American, 21% are Latino and 11% are Asian and Asian-American.
Action Action Action: Ask Senators Leno, de Leon and Lara and Assembly members Ting and Chiu to Support SCA5
A few weeks ago, working in partnership with our Make It Fair campaign, State Senators Lonnie Hancock and Holly Mitchell introduced Senate Constitutional Amendment 5, a comprehensive commercial property tax reform measure that would fundamentally address the unfairness of the current system. As a California constitutional amendment, SCA 5 would appear before the voters on the November 2016 – but first, SCA5 must successfully move through the legislature.
Please call San Francisco State Senator Leno (415-557-1300), and State Assembly members Phil Ting (415-557-2312) and David Chiu (415-557-3013) and ask them today to support SCA5!
Also please call Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (916-651-4024) and Senator Ricardo Lara (916-651-4033) and ask them to support SCA5!
And please be on the lookout for news from SF Rising about ways to support the creation of more truly affordable housing for San Franciscans!