In late September, Katy Tang, incumbent District 4 Supervisor, and Jim Lazarus, Senior Vice President on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, held a press conference outside City Hall urging voters to vote no on Proposition C. Supervisor Tang told the press that the homeless population has been stabilized at roughly 7,000 people the past decade. Tang also said that she wants an analysis of Prop. C from the Office of the Controller before considering a yes vote.
Firstly, Tang’s insistence that the homeless population has been “stabilized” should be sufficient to understand her lack of commitment to ending the homelessness crisis in our city. In talking about the “stable population” of homeless folks, she paints a relatively rosy visage of what is actually a crisis in San Francisco, in which homeless residents face a 1,000 person waitlist for a 90 day shelter bed in addition to criminalization while living on the streets and in encampments. Although it is true that the population of homeless folks has been consistently at 7,000 for over a decade, it should never be the government’s goal to “stabilize” the number of people living on the streets; they should strive to end this disaster.
Lazarus focused more on the economic impact of Prop. C. Lazarus stated that Prop. C would have a significant impact on jobs and businesses in San Francisco. He stated that Prop. C would move jobs out of San Francisco and overtax businesses, endangering their growth and endangering general fund business tax revenue. However, Lazarus’ primary concern was put to rest by a report on the impact of Prop. C on businesses from San Francisco’s Office of the Controller and Office of Economic Analysis. The report stated that the total job loss and gross domestic product loss incurred by Prop. C would only result in an average loss of 0.1 percent of jobs and 0.1 percent of San Francisco’s GDP over a period of 20 years.
One of the main critiques put forth by the No on C campaign is Prop. C’s impact on jobs and businesses, but the Office of the Controller’s report proves that any negative impact would be negligible. This was the highlight of the Yes on C press conference, also held outside City Hall two days later, where District 1 supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen talked about the ways that Prop. C would help end homelessness in San Francisco.
Ronen discussed the importance of housing, mental health services and substance abuse treatment. Ronen also highlighted an important fact: that Prop. C would get back a small fraction of a 14 percent corporate tax break given by the Trump administration and reinvest it back into services for the homeless.
Fewer read a statement from San Francisco’s chief economist, Ted Egan, concurring with the findings of the Office of the Controller’s report which included additional positive impacts not quantified in the report. According to Egan, Prop. C’s passage would result in an expected improvement of health outcomes, a reduction in acute service costs and an increase in “the overall attractiveness of San Francisco” due to a potential decrease in the homeless population. Furthermore, per Egan, the combined effects of these expected outcomes could result in an “economic impact better than (projected.)”
The primary concern regarding an exodus of businesses and jobs from San Francisco is not a concern, and the passage of Prop. C would likely reduce the homeless population, improve health outcomes and reduce the cost of homeless services. All signs point to the impact of Prop. C being positive and a force in ending the homelessness crisis in San Francisco. This November, you can be an agent of change in our city by voting Yes on C!