sf.citi recognizes that technological innovation and progress are essential to San Francisco’s continued growth. We advocate for the interests of the city’s tech industry and community at City Hall and beyond.
At the beginning of the year, sf.citi sets a policy agenda outlining the tech 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 decided to streamline 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 in 2019.
PAST POLICY WORK
Rethinking 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.
Increasing Housing Production
sf.citi was active in advocating for the Ellis Act Reform on SB 364 and SB 1439, promoted the State Affordable Housing Plan AB335, and supported SB 364 to protect renters and long-term tenants in San Francisco. 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 and backed the California housing package – SB 2, SB 3, SB 35, SB 167, AB 678, and AB 1515.
Improving Public Transportation
sf.citi promotes the improvement of modern and sustainable public transportation. We coordinated a Transportation Roundtable and Working Group to improve and modernize the 101 HWY Corridor and prompted BART to conduct a study that identifies investment and policy changes necessary to extend service for late-night hours. 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 make dramatic improvements along the commute.
- Caltrain counties deserve a chance to vote on a tax and stable funding plan – The Mercury News
Advocating Continued Innovation
In 2017, sf.citi was at the forefront in the conversation on the government’s role in regulating automation. We authored our first white paper, which included extensive research and data on the future of work and automation, plus recommendations for legislators. And when District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee proposed legislation to prohibit autonomous delivery devices on San Francisco sidewalks, sf.citi actively pushed against the legislation and advocated a compromise between the Board of Supervisors and tech companies. Instead of an outright ban on all sidewalk delivery robots, the Board of Supervisors agreed to develop a permit process allowing select companies to test courrier bots around the city.
- “Taxing Innovation: The Challenge of Regulating Job Automation” – sf.citi
- SF sidewalk delivery robot ban advances toward approval – San Francisco Examiner
- San Francisco ready to permit robots on city sidewalks – Curbed SF
Supporting 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.
Defeating the ‘Tech Tax’
In 2016 sf.citi members opposed a tax proposal before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The proposed “tech tax” would have imposed an additional 1.5% payroll tax on tech companies in San Francisco, an unprecedented effort to penalize hiring in a specific industry. We led a group of our member companies in opposition to the tax, hosting regular strategy calls, coordinating letters of opposition, and submitting public comment during the bill hearing. The proposal was successfully defeated during a Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee hearing in July 2016.
Encouraging Economic Growth
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. We also supported the City’s application for a Regional Innovation Strategies Grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Promoting Job Creation
sf.citi championed the fight to pass business tax reform on the San Francisco ballot in 2012. Proposition E, which passed with 70% 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.
- How Much Proposition E Will Save SF Startups #FunWithMath – TechCrunch
- SF.Citi video plugs in tech, Prop. E – SF Gate