Thursday, April 17, 2014

SF begins debate over proposed soda tax ballot measure

Posted by on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 4:00 AM

soda
  • AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, John Doman
  • Americans cut back on soda again in 2013, extending a trend that began nearly a decade ago. U.S. sales volume of carbonated soft drinks fell 3 percent in 2013, according to an annual report by Beverage Digest, an industry tracker.

Dueling sides in the soda-tax debate staked their ground Wednesday during City Hall’s first public hearing on the proposed November ballot measure.

As health professionals, public-school officials and parents turned out to back the tax, many wearing white T-shirts that read “Our Community Health Matters, Let’s Fight For It,” small-business owners and their supporters turned out to denounce the tax wearing red T-shirts that said, “Stop Unfair Beverage Taxes, Coalition for An Affordable City.”

If passed by voters, San Francisco would become the first city to impose such a tax — 2 cents for every sugary beverage ounce — but it’s facing strong opposition from the soda industry.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chiu introduces legislation seeking to restrict use of short-term housing rental services such as Airbnb

Posted by on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 4:00 AM

David Chiu introduced a proposal that he says will force Airbnb users to pay hotel tax.
  • David Chiu introduced a proposal that he says will force Airbnb users to pay hotel tax.
San Francisco is clamping down on Airbnb and similar online housing services amid increasing concerns over the illegal short-term rentals and the dodging of The City’s hotel tax.

After working on legislation for more than a year, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced his proposal Tuesday that he says will lead to the payment of the hotel tax and protect the housing stock from being transformed into de facto hotels.

Airbnb users, according to Chiu, range from renters who are just looking to rent out their apartment for a week or two to tenants or building owners who take multiple units off the market and effectively turn them into “year-round hotels.”

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mayor Ed Lee and labor union fight over Twitter tax break

Posted by on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 12:01 AM

Twitter
  • Evan Ducharme/2013 S.f. Examiner file photo
  • One of The City's largest unions plans to protest the mid-Market Street tax break, given to Twitter, today.

The day before San Francisco’s largest public-employee union plans to protest the mid-Market Street tax break — better known as the Twitter tax break — Mayor Ed Lee stepped out ahead of the event by praising the economic benefits of the policy.

The debate strikes to the very heart of the ongoing conflicts between the tech industry and longtime residents who feel the economic pinch from a soaring cost of living, higher rents and more evictions. It also rekindles the debate from 2011, when the Board of Supervisors approved the tax break for companies hiring new employees in the mid-Market area.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

SF labor unions asking for pay raises amid hostile cost-of-living environment

Posted by on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 12:01 AM

SEIU
  • Godofredo Vasquez/2012 s.f. examiner file photo
  • Dozens of labor unions negotiating new contracts with San Francisco have pointed to the improving economy and the rising cost of living as they seek more benefits.

Pointing to a soaring cost of living throughout the Bay Area, San Francisco’s largest city employee union has emerged as an outspoken critic of the Twitter tax break and commuter tech shuttles while more quietly making demands for pay increases and other job benefits in labor contract negotiations.

Among the 27 labor groups negotiating new contracts with The City, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 has proposed for its estimated 12,000 members $356 million in increased costs to San Francisco during the next three years. About half of that would go toward raises and the remainder toward benefits such as free Wi-Fi and Muni passes, along with making part-time workers full time, according to the Department of Human Resources.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

SFMTA board to take up Sunday parking meter enforcement options

Posted by on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 4:00 AM

parking meters
  • Cindy Chew/2006 s.f. examiner file photo
  • The SFMTA says enforcing meters on Sundays generates revenue and cuts traffic congestion.
The future of Sunday parking meter enforcement in San Francisco could be decided as early as Tuesday, with options to eliminate it altogether or merely reduce the likelihood for citations.

Mayor Ed Lee sparked a heated debate over Sunday meter enforcement when he said in his State of the City address in January that he wanted the practice to end.

However, only the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors can actually make that decision. The board meets Tuesday to discuss the agency’s budget proposal, including whether to scrap Sunday parking meter enforcement, which began in January 2013.

Agency officials and those who support alternatives to driving have hailed Sunday meter enforcement as a successful program based on smart transportation planning in that it decreases congestion, creates parking turnover and generates revenue.

On Wednesday, SFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin said the board is faced with three options: It could eliminate the program, stop daytime enforcement and instead enforce a four-hour time limit or keep the program in place, but direct parking enforcement officers to other duties to reduce the citation issuance rate.

Since the program began, the agency has collected $3.6 million in parking meter revenue and issued 54,000 citations resulting in nearly $4 million in revenue from fines as of January. Meter violations are $74 downtown and $64 elsewhere.

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