Board dead set on taxes

While you were shopping, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors decided to tax your license fee, raise the rate on your parking garage and charge you for driving during peak commute hours.

Well, that’s only if the supervisors could. Next week, they’re going to tax you for everything else.

Of all the unbelievably mindless courses of action, it appears the myopic zealots on the board are poised to disregard Mayor Gavin Newsom’s balanced, no-taxes budget unveiled this week and add on a flurry of new tax measures that meet their own ideological agenda. And you better take note because this year, new general citywide tax proposals only require a simple majority vote, not the usual two-thirds.

So if you’re not outraged yet, just give it a little time.

This is not to say that The City’s latest smoke-and-mirrors budget is without flaws. As it is, you’ll be paying more for just about everything for the privilege of living in San Francisco, including registration costs and pool fees. And as is the case for every budget in the past decade, you’ll be paying a lot more for less.

But Newsom did a smart thing and included an opportunity for people to invest in homeownership by allowing them a one-time chance to convert their units to condominiums, a plan that could raise millions in revenue while allowing people to buy their piece of paradise in The City.

And John Avalos, chair of the supervisors’ budget committee, expressed outrage because it would impact “our” housing stock in San Francisco.

When he says “our,” he means the Board of Supervisors, which he believes controls private property in San Francisco. And if you haven’t been paying attention, it’s the board that has opposed any increase in homeownership in San Francisco because so-called progressives believe homeowners would never support their socialist views on property rights.

That aside, he said supervisors are planning to propose up to $100 million in new tax measures for San Francisco residents this year. And apparently he wasn’t kidding.

“It just shows how out of touch the board’s majority is with average residents, many of whom can barely keep their head above water in this economy,” Newsom told me. “They act as if we don’t have any taxes. But we already have among the highest taxes in the country.”

They’re planned to go up — along with your temperature.


Open primary would produce best nominees

The only issue officials from the state’s top political parties can agree on these days is how much they hate the thought of giving voters a choice in who they vote for in primary elections.

It would appear that the only thing party officials have to fear is change itself. And that’s why they’re quaking in their (electoral) booths about the possible statewide passage of Proposition 14.

They like gridlock. They like power. And Prop. 14, by giving voters the chance to choose candidates regardless of party affiliation, would change that — making it such a good idea.

It would create a system where it’s possible that two Democrats or two Republicans, whomever the top two vote-getters are in the primary, could face off in a general election. And it would likely mean that it could produce more-moderate candidates, those more closely in line with the character of the majority of state voters.

But as we know from the annual budget battles during the past, oh, 20 years, political extremism is in vogue in Sacramento, which is why the Legislature enjoys the fine reputation it does today. Whether it’s arguing about tax hikes, tax cuts or the need to fund every social program in the state budget, Democrats and Republicans remain so far apart on critical issues that they might as well be in separate states.

That rigidity has proven to be a bad formula for California, which is why almost any attempt at reasonable reform is welcome. The choice is yours.


Niners playing numbers game with new stadium

By the time the final score is up next week, backers of the plan to build a new football stadium in Santa Clara for the San Francisco 49ers will have spent more than $300 for each vote. And those who support the proposal will probably wish they were at least getting season tickets, because they probably won’t be able to afford them.

As with any large-scale development project, the cost overruns for the future stadium are likely to take the proposed $937 million venue into the $1 billion ballpark, a princely sum for a city of slightly more than 100,000 people. And those rosy forecasts about the amount of money flowing into the local economy are just that, about as accurate as the ability to predict the future of draft picks.

But let’s give team officials credit. The $4 million or so they will spend to get Measure J passed on Tuesday’s ballot is but a pittance when you consider what it might cost them if it fails. Can you imagine what a setback it would be to the team if they lose?

Where would they go next for a future home?

Milpitas? At least it has the land.


Legislature seeks to shut open-carry law

Gun advocates should check their mouths at the door the next time they go shouting off about their God-given rights to carry firearms. That is, unless they like shooting themselves in the foot.

And that would be about what has happened so far, since the Legislature has now taken aim at the idea that gun owners have a right to carry firearms openly as long as they’re not loaded.

The so-called open-carry movement, which is made up of a very small band of urban cowboys, got zinged this week by the Assembly, which voted to ban said open carrying of guns. You can expect the same kind of treatment in the Senate, which voices its opinion next.

As a general rule, you don’t want lawmakers getting involved in your “stuff,” especially if no one is paying attention to the fact that you want to carry your Saturday night special into Starbucks.

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