HVSafe Letter to Board of Supervisors, RE: Proposed Vacancy Tax

We’re sharing our recent correspondence to the Board of Supevisors Planning Department and some of our positions on this matter.

We recognize taking a position is often fraught with apprehension, but we believe it’s critical for the health of civic dialogue, advocacy and the right to redress.

Dear Board Members.

We are writing in support of the proposed vacancy tax introduced today by Supervisor Preston. We agree that San Francisco’s housing shortage is too severe to allow tens of thousands of homes to sit vacant while hard-working San Franciscans pay too much in rent. However, we do not support the exemptions of single-family homes and duplexes proposed in Supervisor Preston’s measure. These exemptions unfairly favor wealthy homeowners and investors who own some of San Francisco’s most valuable housing stock (plenty are sitting idle right here in Hayes Valley!) for no legitimate policy reason.

Compared to San Francisco’s well-documented need to build new homes (82,069 to be specific, as required by RHNA, page 26) Supervisor Preston’s bill would impose a vacancy tax on less than five thousand properties instead of the 40,000 referenced in recent surveys; considering the opportunity before us this is not a sizeable enough number in our view.

We urge the Board, to match Oakland’s 2018 vacancy tax which does not provide exemptions for single-family homes and duplexes. Our goal should remain focused on making more homes available for San Franciscans in tandem with reducing skyrocketing housing costs. With single-family homes and duplexes included in this measure, we can expect this tax to have a broader positive impact across our City.

Thank you.

HVSafe Positions:

  • We are pro housing.
  • Real Estate interests continue to drive up costs in our neighborhood via gentrification.
  • We support housing efforts that increase available units; we view housing scarcity as a cause for high rents and skyrocketing housing prices.
  • We do not support the disproportionate neighborhood politics that tends to lean towards Real Estate interests and speculators.
  • Opportunities for affordable housing have been under a direct threat as a result of gentrification in Hayes Valley.