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Election results 2018: Proposition C homeless tax passes [Updated]

Tech moguls’ war of words led to tax hike for city’s richest companies

An apparently homeless man sits in front of a cyclone fence, with Muni buses behind it. Photo by David Tran Photo/Shutterstock

On Tuesday night, Proposition C, a ballot measure that will raise some taxes on San Francisco’s largest and wealthiest companies and put the money toward funding homeless relief services, led early voting tallies by a whopping 20 points, making passage seem almost certain.

Just before midnight Tuesday, the San Francisco Department of Elections reported that Proposition C led 59.87 percent to 40.13 percent, a margin of more than 40,000 votes.

Although many ballots remain to be counted, Proposition C’s generous election night margin means it will most likely pass.

Proposition C “creates a dedicated fund to support services for homeless people and prevent homelessness, including one tax of 0.175 percent to 0.69 percent on gross receipts over $50 million that a business receives in San Francisco,” according to the department of elections.

City Hall economist Ted Egan estimated that this will add up to a $250-$300 million annual boost to the city’s homeless services budget, a hike of nearly 80 percent.

Egan also estimated minor job losses as some companies try to dodge the new tax, amounting to less than 1,000 paid positions over a 20 year period.

Marc Benioff addresses attendees.

Early in the race, Proposition C made headlines mostly because of a local prankster’s repeated use of parody sites and poached URLs to mock the SF Chamber of Commerce’s campaign against the tax measure.

But in the past few weeks the focus shifted to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who loudly endorsed the measure and put millions into campaigning for it.

This despite—or perhaps because of—the fact that Salesforce itself will undoubtedly end up paying higher taxes under the new plan.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, served as a foil to Benioff, arguing in public that Proposition C was unfair and that it would result in some companies paying disproportionately over others.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed also came out against the measure, arguing that smarter planning could fix the homeless crisis without raising taxes.

But it appears that voters decided that the likes of Dorsey and other large employers could handle the less than one percent tax pinch in the face of the city’s ongoing drive to fix chronic regional homelessness.

[Update: On Wednesday morning the Department of Elections count had Prop C up by more than 41,000 votes, about 59.91 percent of the total so far.]