A tax levy to improve library services is fought by THC and other tenants’ advocates. If they pass the levy it would mean passing the cost onto renters.
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Tenant Groups Vow to Fight Library Tax
They don’t want landlords to pass expense to renters
Politically potent tenant organizations have put the San Francisco Library Commission on notice that they’ll fight a tax levy to improve library services if property owners are permitted to pass a portion on the renters.
The commission is contemplating a library parcel tax to raise about $8 million a year in new funds.
The tax, which the commission wants Mayor Jordan to put on the Nov. 2 ballot, is aimed at restoring the level of service The City’s libraries offered in 1985-86. It would have to be approved by two-thirds of the voters.
Library hours have declined from about 950 to 750 a week since San Francisco’s finances started to nose-dive in the mid-1980s.
The draft proposal before the commission envisions a three-tiered tax: a flat rate of $46 per parcel per year for single family residences; a $23 per year flat rate for apartment units; and a variable rate for commercial parcels, based on the square footage of any improvements.
Tenant activists held the commission’s feet to the fire Thursday over a proposal to amend The City’s rent ordinance to allow landlords to automatically pass through one-half of their tax liability for apartment units to tenants.
“That is unacceptable, and it is unaffordable,” said Charles Hickey, chairman of the Inner City Tenants Alliance, which represents poor and disabled renters, at a public hearing in the Main Library’s Lurie Room.
Joe Lacey, a teacher and tenant advocate, said: “We object to any pass-through.”
Tenderloin Housing Clinic Director Randy Shaw said that as a practical political matter, including a pass-through provision in the library parcel tax was “very foolish.”
“There has never been a (San Francisco) ballot measure pass that had a tenant pass-through in it,” Shaw said.
About 70 percent of San Franciscans are renters.
James C. Fabris, executive vice president of the San Francisco Association of Realtors, said tenants, who are library users, should not be permitted to escape the tax.
“It is only fair to allow voter-approved tax increases affecting property to be borne by those who favor them at the polls,” Fabris said.