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SF ride-share tax ahead in voter poll, but still in big trouble

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Poll for Proposition D shows plurality support it, but well short of the two-thirds margin needed

Ride Hailing App Lyft Prepares For Its IPO Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Come November 5, San Francisco voters will decide whether to add an extra tax onto ride-hailing trips with companies like Lyft and Uber. Polling group Probolsky Research says that a plurality of San Franciscans currently favor the measure.

The ride tax, Proposition D, reads, in full: “Shall the city impose a 1.5 percent business tax on shared rides and a 3.25 percent business tax on private rides for fares charged by commercial ride-share and driverless-vehicle companies until November 5, 2045, raising an estimated $30-35 million annually, to fund improvements in Muni service and bicycle and pedestrian safety?”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin proposed the surcharge in May, and the rest of the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted for it in July.

Probolsky Research surveyed 400 SF voters—133 on the phone, 267 online—in three languages to see who favored the ride-hailing tax or not.

In the results released Friday, 47 percent were in favor, 35.8 percent were against it, and the rest said they weren’t sure.

While those numbers appear positive for Proposition D, the survey’s results aren’t good news; this new tax needs two-thirds of the vote to pass, making that 35.8 percent opposition worrisome for Peskin and other backers.

Perhaps surprisingly, both Lyft and Uber support the tax proposal, so there’s no deep-pocketed industry opposition to the plan.

Right now the proposition’s most prominent critic is the San Francisco Republican Party, which objects to the city’s proposed budget for the spending. The group also complains that the tax will drive up consumer costs.

City Controller Ben Rosenfield estimates that Proposition D would “result in an annual tax revenue increase to the city of approximately $30 to $35 million,” with half of the benefits going to improve Muni and the other half dedicated to pedestrian and bike safety.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus five percent. Probolsky Research says it “does not have a client on this measure,” claiming it conducted the survey of its own accord.