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UncategorizedIs Ed Lee opposing the anti-speculation tax? Or did...

Is Ed Lee opposing the anti-speculation tax? Or did the Realtors go off a bit early?

This was posted a few days ago on the SF Board of Realtors website. Gone now.
This was posted a few days ago on the SF Board of Realtors website. Gone now.

By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 — Is Mayor Ed Lee opposed to the anti-speculation tax, Prop. G? Well, the last time I asked him he wasn’t; he said he was reviewing the proposal and hadn’t made up his mind. His office hasn’t put out any press materials announcing his opposition.

The supporters of Prop. G haven’t heard that the mayor is opposing them, either. In fact, the former housing activist who is trying to push his own “consensus” measures this fall, including a Muni bond, might not want to infuriate the entire tenant movement, which is behind the tax.

I can’t think of a single good political reason for the mayor to come out No on G.

So why did the San Francisco Board of Realtors post a flier on Facebook saying that the mayor was against the tax? A flier aimed at organizing support and raising money? A flier that says “find out why Mayor Ed Lee [and] Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu and Supervisors Mark Farrell, Scott Wiener and Katy Tang all say no to Prop. G?”

I don’t know. The Mayor’s press office hasn’t responded to an email I sent almost a week ago asking for his position on the measure.

But I checked Facebook again tonight and the flier seems to have been removed. And the mayor’s name isn’t listed on the No on G campaign website.

So maybe the Realtors had a bit of a premature ejaculation here. Imagine that.

What the flier does tell us is how the landlords are going to run their campaign. It’s going to be a repeat of the Big Soda attack on a sugary drink tax in Richmond, where the well-funded effort said that none of the money raised would go for youth or public health programs.

In this case: “Not One Cent” for new housing.

Problem: If you designate a tax for a specific spending priority, it needs a two-thirds vote. Also: This tax isn’t about raising money; it’s about discouraging speculation by taking the profit out of it.

Still, now we know what the tenant movement is facing. And it appears the mayor, at this point, hasn’t actually entered the battle. Sorry, Realtors.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. with all of the “mom and pop” businesses being replaced by corporations, or new businesses that don’t share the (traditional) SF values, I don’t understand why tenants are so supportive of a proposition that will drive out the mom and pop landlords. Think about it, if G passes, the only buyers that cold afford to withstand such a tax will be corporate or investor groups. Mom and pop landlords generally don’t have the money to Ellis act or buy out tenants, but investor groups simply figure it in as a cost of business, which of course gets passed down to tenants eventually.
    Another ‘shoot yourself in the foot”, knee jerk idea.

  2. Prop G is one more way for rents to go up. Speculators will pool money to flip bldgs with more than 30 apts, instead of smaller ones and then Ellis the large bldgs. property owners will Ellis BEFORE selling, sell at a higher price for TIC conversion. No one can believe this will lower rents. And, if anyone cared, there would be means testing, which would open up tens, hundreds? or apts from people who don’t need breaks on their rent – renters with large assests, salaries, who even own property (including in SF) but keep their low rent, rent controlled apts because they can.

  3. “I can’t think of a single good political reason for the mayor to come out No on G.” What about the fact that this will actually RAISE rents in SF? Severely misguided prop that will create WAY more of a mess. The reason why they don”t target the Large Landlords is because it’s easier to target the smaller ones with less pockets. All of these jerks Campos etc should be run out of office…Complete idiots

  4. Why would someone who willingly agrees to a month-to-month temporary arrangement ever have a reasonable expectation that they have a life estate?

    And why would anyone ever expect to be entitled to something they cannot afford?

  5. Tenants have ben getting “the relentless squeeze” by the thousands, squeezed right out of town or onto the streets through no fault of their own. Tenants are voting yes on G.

  6. I dont know why my earlier post didn’t get posed but I think taxing the entire price of the house (instead of just the profits) is a sure way this will fail. This law does not differentiate between vacant buildings and occupied buildings where a tenant has been displaced. This will cease all renovations of existing buildings by contractors (large and small).

  7. Fix the loopholes in Ellis that do not benefit small property owners AT ALL, but rather rich speculators!!!!!

  8. It’s not unreasonable to infer that if the mayor doesn’t explicitly support Prop G then he must disapprove of it. He’s not obligated to express an opinion either way but the absence of enthusiasm seems like opposition to me too. And no politician wants to be known for raising taxes.

    A further factor, of course, is that it is very likely that there will be a lawsuit to bounce this tax because of its discriminatory nature and because it is a taking. Why would Lee support a strong lawsuit that will cost the city a lot of money?

    The city seems to be trying to put itself above a state law that is clearly intended to stop municipalities playing games like this. If you want to stop Ellis, get that law changed in Sac or get the city to secede from the State.

    But bear in mind also that without Ellis, property owners are much less likely to rent out vacant units because that will become a life sentence. So, as usual, the tenant activists pass laws that make rental housing more scarce and expensive. After 35 years of failure, seemingly they never learn this simple lesson.

  9. “I can’t think of a single good political reason for the mayor to come out No on G.” How about a ground surge of small landlords who will be unfairly targeted by this tax while owners of 31+ unit properties get a pass? There are quite a few owner/occupiers of 2-3 unit buildings who are getting very angry about the relentless squeeze and we are ready to vote against anyone who actively supports G.

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