Competing special purpose tax measures are on the San Francisco June ballot, both of which would raise the tax on gross receipts from the lease of commercial space in San Francisco. The tax rates in the measures – generally, 1.7% and 3.5% – would be a steep increase over the current gross receipts tax rate applicable to commercial rents of around 0.3%. Either proposed tax would be in addition to the gross receipts tax already in effect and would become operative on January 1, 2019.
With rising housing costs remaining a priority concern for the region, affordable housing had a major presence on Bay Area ballots this November. As detailed below, voters in three municipalities and three counties across the Bay Area passed measures to increase affordable housing funding for low and moderate-income households. Taken together, these measures will yield about $2 billion in new housing funds.
Prior to the November 8 election, we reported on the long list of local propositions on the San Francisco ballot, including a number of measures impacting real estate taxes, land use and governance. The results were of course eclipsed by national news, but there are some significant local developments, updated here.
Admittedly the issues may appear benign compared to the Presidential race and the drugs, sex and other provocative topics on the state ballot. But San Francisco voters again face a long list of significant local propositions on November 8th, and among them are a number of measures impacting real estate taxes, land use and governance.
Unfamiliar Terrain summarizes the key measures impacting our industry:
Production, Distribution, and Repair (PDR) space is a hot commodity in San Francisco. Over the past few years, numerous organizations, policymakers, and elected officials have been engaged in efforts to preserve existing and create new PDR, community, and arts spaces, particularly in SoMa. Supervisor Kim, who previously sponsored the moratorium on conversion of PDR space in SoMa that expired in October, has sponsored Proposition X for the November ballot. Prop X would impose a conditional use and on-site replacement requirement for many new projects or changes of use that displace PDR, Institutional Community, or Arts Activities uses.
In a city hungry for development along the eastern waterfront, one large hurdle looms – the cap on new office space development. The cap, imposed by the voters as Proposition M in 1986, limits new office development by square footage. While the cap increases each year by 950,000 square feet, the recent building boom will soon subsume the office space that is available for allocation.
Enter Proposition O on this November’s ballot.
Transfer tax on the sale of most commercial property in San Francisco will increase if voters approve Proposition W.
If approved, Prop W will increase the transfer tax rate by 0.25% for sales valued above $5 million (increase from $10/$500 in purchase price to $11.25/$500) and above $10 million (increase from $12.50/$500 in purchase price to $13.75/$500).
Members of the Board of Supervisors have proposed two important Propositions for the November ballot that would amend the City Charter and shift authority over certain City agencies and Departments from the Mayor’s Office to the Board of Supervisors.
Prop U dovetails with the City’s new increases in required affordable housing percentages by expanding the range of household income levels that would be eligible to rent an affordable housing unit. According to the Controller, this would increase rental revenue for property owners and tax revenue for the City. The measure is part of an ongoing debate about the appropriate income range for defining eligibility for affordable units, and reflects a desire to expand the range to include more low/low moderate income families (as opposed to very low income).
After several weeks of delays, on September 13 the City Controller released a study assessing the impacts of Prop C’s increases in the affordable housing percentage requirements for market rate developments.
Whereas Prop C increased the required set-aside rate from 12 to 25 percent, the study recommends setting an initial on-site requirement of 14 to 18 percent for rental projects and 17 to 20 percent for ownership projects. The study, authorized by the Board of Supervisors in trailing legislation contingent on voters’ approval of Prop C in June, directed the Controller to assess the economic feasibility of current and increased inclusionary housing requirements under Prop C, and make recommendations in an advisory report. The Board of Supervisors will now consider the recommendations in setting the City’s inclusionary housing requirements.