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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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County

City and County of San Francisco
Measure S Ordinance - 2/3 Approval Required

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Election Results

Failing

233,099 votes yes (63.71%)

132,769 votes no (36.29%)

Shall the City use the money raised by the current 8% base tax on the rental of hotel rooms to provide specific funding for two different areas: arts programs and family homeless services?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters San Francisco

The Question

Shall the City use the money raised by the current 8% base tax on the rental of hotel rooms to provide specific funding for arts programs and family homeless services?

The Situation

The City imposes a hotel tax on the rental of hotel rooms. For most of its existence since 1961, the tax has dedicated the money raised to City arts agencies and departments, the City’s convention facilities, and low-income housing. However, starting in the early 2000s, the City began amending those allocations as part of the General Fund.

 

The tax rate is 14% (an 8% base tax and an additional 6% tax surcharge). The following chart is the current allocation of the money raised from the 8% base tax:

 

Current Allocation of 8% Base Tax Amount
Moscone Convention Center 50%
Administration Up to .6%
Refunds of Overpayments As required
Publicity & Advertising (of SF) As appropriated by the Board of Supervisors
To General Fund Remainder

Any remaining money raised from the 8% base tax after taking into account other allocations listed above are deposited tino the General Fund. Money raised from the 6% tax surcharge is also deposited the General Fund. The Board of Supervisors may allocate money in the General Fund for any public purpose. Currently, there are no specific amounts funding for The Arts Commission, Cultural Equity Endowment Fund, Grants for the Arts Program, and the City’s War Memorial and Performing Arts Center (War Memorial complex) consisting of the War Memorial Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, Herbst Theatre, the Green Room and Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall.

The Proposal

This ordinance that would allocate part of the current hotel base tax for two areas: arts programs and family homeless services. It would not change the existing hotel tax rate. The following chart is the proposed allocation of the money raised from the 8% base tax:

Proposed Allocation of 8% Base Tax by Prop S Amount
Moscone Convention Center Up to 50%
Administration Up to .6%
Refunds of Overpayments As required
Arts Commission 2.9%
Cultural Equity Endowment Fund 7.5% by 2020
Grants for the Arts 7.5% by 2020
War Memorial Complex 5.8%
Neighborhood Arts Program Fund 6% by 2020
Ending Family Homelessness Fund 6.3%
To General Fund Remainder

The Arts Commission, Cultural Equity Endowment Fund, Grants for the Arts, War Memorial Complex instead of being funded through the General Fund would be funded by the 8% Base Tax of the Hotel Tax. In addition to these programs, two funds would be established and funded by the 8% Base Tax of the Hotel Tax: Neighborhood Arts Program Fund and Ending Family Homelessness Fund.

Proposition S would also establish the Neighborhood Arts Program Fund to provide money and assistance to nonprofit organizations that establish or improve affordable facilities for artists and arts organizations. Money from this Fund would also be provided to artists and nonprofit organizations to create art experiences in San Francisco. The Arts Commission would administer this Fund. Each year it would receive a percentage of the money raised by the hotel base tax, up to 6% by 2020.

Proposition S would also establish the Ending Family Homelessness Fund to provide subsidies and case management programs to house homeless families; provide services to low-income families at risk of becoming homeless; and develop, rehabilitate and acquire new housing for homeless families.

A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to use the money raised by the current base tax on the rental of hotel rooms to provide specific funding for two different areas: arts programs and family homeless services.

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make these changes.

Supporters say

  • Proposition S would provide support at risk, low income and homeless families without raising taxes.
  • Restores original intent of the Hotel Tax to help support people and arts.
  • Supports diverse arts and cultural organizations that provide programming that serves youth, families and arts audiences in the city and makes art experiences more accessible and affordable for all. Prevents displacement of families, artists, art organizations and art leaders

Opponents say

  • Supervisors could fund programs without voter approval.
  • San Francisco relies on tourist and convention business for tax revenue and we should not jeopardize this important economic segment.
  • This is another attack on the General Fund, further eroding the monies available for streets, public safety and all other obligations, which benefit all citizens.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Summary

Ballot Simplification Committee

The Way It Is Now: The City currently imposes a hotel tax on the rental of hotel rooms. The tax is 14% (an 8% base tax and an additional 6% tax surcharge). The tax goes into the General Fund, and the Board of Supervisors may allocate the money for any public purpose.

The Arts Commission is a City agency that receives funding from the General Fund. The Arts Commission:

• funds arts programs for youth, community and arts education;

• approves designs of City-owned structures;

• oversees City-owned cultural centers; and

• selects art for City buildings and public spaces.

The Arts Commission provides money to the City’s Cultural Equity Endowment Fund, from which the City gives grants to:

• arts organizations that represent historically underserved communities;

• individual artists; and

• nonprofit organizations that provide affordable facilities for artists and arts organizations.

The City’s War Memorial and Performing Arts Center (War Memorial complex) consists of the War Memorial Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, Herbst Theatre, the Green Room and Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall. The City allocates money each year to maintain, improve and operate the War Memorial complex.

The City’s Grants for the Arts Program provides money from the General Fund for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

The City allocates money each year to maintain, improve and operate Moscone Center, the City’s convention and exhibition complex in the South of Market neighborhood.

The Proposal: Proposition S is an ordinance that would allocate part of the current hotel base tax for two different areas: arts programs and family homeless services. It would not change the existing hotel tax rate.

It would require the Board to annually allocate the money raised by the 8% base tax on the rental of hotel rooms to:

• the Moscone Center, up to 50%;

• the Arts Commission, 2.9%; and

• the War Memorial complex, 5.8%.

The Grants for the Arts Program and the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund would each receive 7.5% by 2020.

Proposition S would also establish the Neighborhood Arts Program Fund to provide money and assistance to nonprofit organizations that establish or improve affordable facilities for artists and arts organizations. Money from this Fund would also be provided to artists and nonprofit organizations to create art experiences in San Francisco. The Arts Commission would administer this Fund. Each year it would receive a percentage of the money raised by the hotel base tax, up to 6% by 2020.

Proposition S would also establish the Ending Family Homelessness Fund, which each year would receive 6.3% of money raised by the hotel base tax. This Fund would provide subsidies and case management programs to house homeless families; provide services to low-income families at risk of becoming homeless; and develop, rehabilitate and acquire new housing for homeless families.

A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to use the money raised by the current base tax on the rental of hotel rooms to provide specific funding for two different areas: arts programs and family homeless services.

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make these changes.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

More information

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