Business groups appeal ruling upholding taxes to fund childcare, homelessness services

Two measures set to generate more than $400 million annually

Business and anti-tax groups have filed an appeal of last month’s court ruling upholding the legality of two tax measures to fund childcare and early education and for homelessness services.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman upheld the two measures, both labeled Proposition C on the ballot, in July.

One measure, a tax on commercial rents approved by 51 percent of San Francisco voters in June of 2018, is expected to raise upwards of $145 million annually for childcare and early education services and salary increases for educators in the field. The other, the “Our City, Our Home” measure, passed in November and is expected to raise more than $300 million annually for housing and homelessness services.

Opponents led by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sued in January to block both measures, arguing that they were invalid because they did not pass with a two-thirds majority — the required threshold to pass a “special tax” initiative placed on the ballot by government officials.

However proponents and the City Attorney’s Office have maintained that only a simple majority was required because the measures were placed on the ballot through a signature drive.

The appeal was filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday by the San Rafael-based law firm Nielsen Merksamer. Attorneys for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association and Nielson Merksamer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

While The City began collecting the taxes, it has yet to spend the money on the promised services due to the legal challenge.

“The people in San Francisco have spoken clearly and we are confident the people will prevail but it will take time,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, which spearheaded the Our City Our Home initiative. “Sadly, with every moment passing, more people are needlessly suffering and seeing their lives shortened.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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