sf.citi represents San Francisco tech companies in conversation with local policymakers.
sf.citi represents San Francisco tech companies in conversation with local policymakers.
At the beginning of the year, sf.citi sets a policy agenda outlining the policy areas that matter most to sf.citi and our members. These focus areas help us at sf.citi prioritize our work, establish a clear scope of our positions for current and prospective members, and let legislators know where the San Francisco tech community stands on the most pressing issues. After releasing our first policy agenda in 2018, sf.citi streamlined the process by making it an official component of the Policy Advisory Committee responsibilities. The sf.citi Policy Advisory Committee identified the below policy priorities as most critical to the success of our tech community and San Francisco as a whole.
sf.citi and our members have actively advocated for policies that increase San Francisco’s overall housing stock and make the City a more affordable place to live and work.
Bay Area Housing Initiatives: In 2019, sf.citi members contributed over $2 billion to Bay Area housing initiatives. During the 2019 San Francisco municipal election, sf.citi endorsed both Proposition A, the largest affordable housing bond in the City’s history, and Proposition E, a measure to fast-track affordable and educator housing construction.
Over the years, sf.citi has joined San Francisco organizations in championing tenant protections and other supportive housing measures. We voiced our support for the Ellis Act Reform proposed by SB 1439, promoted the State Affordable Housing Plan AB 1335, and supported SB 364 to cap property taxes for senior military veterans.
Home-SF: In June 2017, sf.citi supported, spoke publicly, and coordinated with partners to ensure the passage of the Affordable Housing Bonus Program (Home-SF). And in September 2017, sf.citi furthered our support of innovative housing policies by backing Governor Brown’s landmark California housing package.
Supporting Solutions to Homelessness
sf.citi and our members are committed to being part of the solution to homelessness in San Francisco.
Navigation Centers: In 2019, sf.citi and our members joined Mayor Breed in voicing our support for the construction of a new navigation center on Seawall Lot 330 of the Embarcadero. With a 78 percent success rate, navigation centers provide much needed shelter and services to our unhoused neighbors.
All In: sf.citi and many of our members participated in Tipping Point’s ‘All In’ campaign to secure homes for 1,100 people experiencing homelessness in all 11 San Francisco Supervisorial districts.
Advocating Continued Innovation
sf.citi has always been at the forefront of conversations around the regulation of new technologies and automation.
Office of Emerging Technology: In 2019, sf.citi and our members worked with Supervisor Norman Yee on the creation of the Office of Emerging Technology, a first-of-its-kind office designed to centralize permitting for technologies operating on San Francisco streets, sidewalks, or infrastructure.
Regulating Automation: In 2017, sf.citi authored our first white paper, which included extensive research and data on the future of work and automation, as well as recommendations for legislators.
Delivery Robots: When Supervisor Yee proposed legislation to prohibit autonomous delivery devices on San Francisco sidewalks, sf.citi championed a compromise between the Board of Supervisors and tech companies. Instead of an outright ban on all sidewalk delivery robots, the Board of Supervisors developed a permit process allowing select companies to test courrier bots around the City.
Improving Public Transportation
sf.citi believes in both innovative mobility technologies and reliable public transportation.
Traffic Congestion Mitigation: In 2019 sf.citi members Lyft and Uber collaborated with Supervisor Aaron Peskin on the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Tax. Passed by voters during the November 2019 election, the measure imposes a per-ride tax on rides taken through transportation network companies. It will generate an estimated $30 million each year to improve public transportation and reduce traffic congestion.
Commuter Shuttles: sf.citi and its members supported the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Commuter Shuttles Pilot Program, which created City regulations for private employer shuttles. The shuttles, which carry some 10,000 passengers a day, eliminate more than two million single-passenger car trips annually in the Bay Area. In partnership with SFMTA, the shuttles have increased their ridership while cutting down on use of designated MUNI bus stops. sf.citi members submitted letters of support and testified in public hearings in favor of the program. As a result of these efforts, the City made the Commuter Shuttle Program permanent in the spring of 2017.
BART and Caltrain: We coordinated a Transportation Roundtable and Working Group to improve and modernize the 101 Highway corridor and prompted BART to conduct a study that identifies investment and policy changes necessary to extend service at night. In September 2017, sf.citi partnered with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in urging Governor Brown to sign SB 797 into law. This critical piece of transportation legislation provided Caltrain with a new source of revenue to improve the entire system and commute.
Promoting Pro-Growth Tax Policy
sf.citi has worked hard to ensure San Francisco tax policies encourage innovation, job growth, and economic prosperity for our City. Throughout 2019, sf.citi and our members joined Mayor Breed in advocating for a more comprehensive, sustainable reform of the City’s business tax structure.
IPO, CEO Tax: We opposed several proposed tax measures, including a stock-based compensation tax (also known as the IPO Tax) and a tax derived from an executive compensation ratio (also known as the CEO Tax).
Tech Tax: In 2016 sf.citi led our members in opposing what became known as the “Tech Tax,” a proposal to impose an additional 1.5% payroll tax on tech companies in San Francisco. We contested this unprecedented effort to penalize hiring in the tech industry by hosting regular strategy calls, coordinating letters of opposition, and submitting public comment during the bill’s hearing. The proposal was successfully defeated during a Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee hearing in July 2016.
Proposition E: sf.citi led the charge to pass a business tax reform on the San Francisco ballot in 2012. Proposition E, which passed with 70 percent of the local vote, transitioned San Francisco from an antiquated payroll tax structure to a gross receipts tax. This change benefited employers and employees alike by incentivizing hiring, strengthening startups, and improving City services.
Encouraging Economic Growth
We want to make sure tech companies, big and small, continue to grow in San Francisco and contribute to the City’s overall economic vitality. That is why we support local policies that are beneficial to business and to San Francisco as a whole.
The Capital Gap: In 2016, sf.citi supported AB 2178 to help fill the “capital gap” that exists for smaller, early-stage seed capital offerings and “jumpstart” these companies so that they can apply for larger rounds of financing.
Regional Innovation Strategies: sf.citi also supported the City’s application for a Regional Innovation Strategies Grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Advocating for Sensible City Infrastructure
Corporate Cafeteria Legislation: Throughout much of 2018 and 2019, sf.citi and our members engaged in numerous discussions with Supervisor Ahsha Safai around his proposed ban on corporate cafeterias in San Francisco, also known as the Cafeteria Ban. Testifying at a public hearing, sf.citi Executive Director, Jennifer Stojkovic, emphasized that the ban would jeopardize some 350 jobs within the tech industry. Cafeteria workers also voiced opposition to the ban, noting that private cafeterias offer some of the highest-paid food service jobs in California, complete with benefits and predictable hours. After many conversations with sf.citi, the measure evolved from an outright ban on corporate cafeterias to a conditional use permit requirement. Then at the end of 2019, Supervisor Safai sent his proposed cafeteria legislation back to committee instead of to the Board of Supervisors for a vote.
Government Broadband: sf.citi weighed in on an initiative spearheaded by former Mayors Ed Lee and Mark Farrell to develop a citywide network providing fiber-based Internet service to all San Francisco residents. While certainly well intentioned, the proposal was estimated to cost the city anywhere from $1.9 to $2.5 billion. Advocating on behalf of several sf.citi members, sf.citi testified at a hearing in May 2018 to argue that city resources would be better directed toward more pressing issues like homelessness and housing. Mayor Farrell ultimately decided not to pursue a revenue initiative for the project on the November 2018 ballot, while Mayor Breed’s administration has put the Request for Proposals on hold as the City conducts further research.
While most of our advocacy is focused locally, sf.citi supports our members on certain pieces of federal legislation, especially those that affect the tech industry at large.
No to Immigration Bans: After Trump issued his Travel Ban in 2017 — Executive Order 13780, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States — sf.citi collaborated with partner organizations, fwd.us and the ACLU. Together, we issued a statement on behalf of the sf.citi Board of Directors opposing Trump’s policy , which we considered highly divisive and would prevent many from excelling in the tech industry.
Yes to Net Neutrality: Another focus of sf.citiʼs federal work targeted the Trump Administration’s proposed repeals to the Federal Communication Commisionʼs (FCC) Obama-era regulations regarding net neutrality. As a collaborative organization representing all facets of the tech industry, sf.citi partnered with the Net Neutrality Day of Action organizers and issued a statement in support of net neutrality.