An overview of some of the skyscrapers in the SoMA neighborhood on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

After granting nonprofits a discount, SF forms 17th community benefit district in SOMA

After reducing assessments for non-profits, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to form the seventeenth community benefit district in San Francisco for the South of Market area.

After postponing a Feb. 5 vote on the SoMa West Community Benefit District, Supervisor Matt Haney said organizers struck a compromise in the intervening weeks.

That compromise includes giving nonprofits a 47.5 percent discount on the assessments of properties that fall within the benefit district.

Another change was to commit to a board overseeing the district that included members from non-profit housing sites and cultural organizations.

SEE RELATED: SF forms 17th community benefit district in SOMA

Following the vote, Mayor London Breed issued a statement along with Haney.

“The formation of the SoMa West CBD demonstrates that these neighbors, merchants, property owners, and stakeholders are committed to meeting the challenges we see on our streets every day,” Breed said in the statement.

Haney said in a statement, “I’m happy to see that we were able to include a more affordable assessment for nonprofits, and a commitment to an inclusive, diverse board with broad representation from community organizations, tenants, small businesses, and property owners.”

The benefit district is expected to generate $3.74 million per year for at least the next 15 years to pay for additional services in the area, which comprises about 100 blocks, including blocks bounded by 5th Street and 6th Street on the east, Minna Street and Folsom Street on the north, South Van Ness Avenue and the U.S. Highway 101 Freeway on the west, and Townsend Street on the south.

The funding is expected to pay for such things as security cameras, increase foot patrols, more sidewalk cleaning and marketing to attract visitors to the area.

Community benefit districts have faced criticism from homeless advocates who argue the use of the funding is controlled by a small group of people who oversee the benefit district and also that the funding often pays for services, like so-called community ambassadors, that merely push those living on the street out of the public spaces.

James Spinello, chair of the SoMa West CBD Steering Committee, who has worked to form the district, said in a statement that “the past two years has seen the neighborhood unify and work to this goal to form the SoMa West CBD. We are all pleased to say that the SoMa West CBD will now be a reality for everyone’s benefit.”

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