The San Francisco Chronicle has run two stories in the last two days about the huge influx of new arts-related businesses coming to the supposedly “blighted” mid-Market area, some of them drawn by a 10,000-square-foot space the city's Film Commission opened as an incubator for independent filmmakers (the Examiner had the story last week). Yet city officials and the daily newspapers are still pushing a $22 million tax exclusion zone for the area, which will be considered by the Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Tues/5), using discredited arguments that nothing will locate here without big tax breaks.
“The incubator project will benefit both the San Francisco film community and the evergrowing Mid-Market Arts District,” Mayor Lee said today in a Mayor's Office press release. “Establishing programs such as this helps ensure the health of the Mid-Market area as it continues to grow and become a burgeoning arts community.”
“Listen to the recent City Hall political debates, and you'd think the beleaguered Mid-Market neighborhood was on the verge of becoming the next Silicon Valley with Twitter at its core,” was the lede in a front-page story in today's Chron listing at least seven major arts-related businesses that are moving to mid-Market, drawn by the cheap rent, large buildings, and artistic synergy and not the tax breaks.
At least three supervisors are also working on legislation to excuse tech companies from paying payroll taxes on stock options, which City Economist Ted Egan said was the main reason to believe Twitter would follow through on threats to leave town if it doesn't get a tax break. And Guardian investigations have revealed the lies and corruption behind how the tax exclusion zone was created.
Yet rather than prompting a reconsideration or scaling back of a tax giveaway that even Egan -- a fairly conservative, free-market kinda guy – says doesn't make sense for most of the properties that have been thrown into this tax exclusion zone, Sups. Mark Farrell, Carmen Chu, Malia Cohen, and Scott Wiener have recently joined the original sponsors, Sups. David Chiu and Jane Kim, as co-sponsors, giving them the six votes they need.
Let's be clear: This isn't about helping mid-Market and the Tenderloin. Hell, with all the business interest that is already occurring there naturally, the likelihood that this tax break will raise rents and force out low-income residents, small businesses, and non-profits is now greater than ever. But then again, this was always about helping landlords and doing a big political favor for the rich in an election year more than it was about any of the platitudes that have dripped from the lips of these craven political animals.
Old-school land-use power politics is back at City Hall, sold to the rest of us with the false promise of helping the poor. I guess some things never change.