Bay Area vot­ers de­cide tech in­dus­try should pay its dues

Lodi News-Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Sam Dean

The tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try has turned the Bay Area into an eco­nomic pow­er­house that many of the world’s most valu­able com­pa­nies call home. But the in­flux of well-paid tech work­ers has also clogged the re­gion’s in­fra­struc­ture and sent hous­ing prices soar­ing, ex­ac­er­bat­ing a home­less­ness cri­sis on the streets of San Fran­cisco.

In two bal­lot mea­sures Tues­day that amounted to a re­gional ref­er­en­dum on how much tech cor­po­ra­tions should con­tribute to the com­mon good, vot­ers in San Fran­cisco and in Google’s home­town of Moun­tain View de­cided that some wealth re­dis­tri­bu­tion was in or­der.

“Th­ese com­pa­nies have more money than God, and it’s fair for them to pay their share above the ex­ist­ing taxes and do­na­tions they al­ready make,” said Moun­tain View Mayor Lenny Siegel, who spear­headed the suc­cess­ful ef­fort to pass a head tax aimed squarely at Google.

The more con­tentious ref­er­en­dum was San Fran­cisco’s Propo­si­tion C, which adds a new bracket to the city’s tax on gross re­ceipts for com­pa­nies bring­ing in more than $50 mil­lion a year. It re­quires that pro­ceeds from the new tax go solely to pro­vid­ing per­ma­nent hous­ing, rent sup­port and ser­vices for San Fran­cis­cans who would oth­er­wise be home­less.

In an anal­y­sis, the San Fran­cisco of­fice of the con­troller es­ti­mated that 300 to 400 busi­nesses will be af­fected by the tax, which will add as much as $300 mil­lion a year to the $380 mil­lion the city cur­rently spends on ser­vices and hous­ing re­lated to home­less­ness, in­clud­ing rent sub­si­dies and shel­ters.

“We have tremen­dous wealth in San Fran­cisco and we have peo­ple who are lit­er­ally dy­ing on our streets,” said Jen­nifer Frieden­bach, di­rec­tor of the Coali­tion on Home­less­ness, who led the ef­fort to pass Propo­si­tion C. “It’s a pretty sim­ple equa­tion.”

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