SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced her opposition Friday to citywide Proposition C, which seeks to use business taxes to support homeless services, just before early voting is set to get underway.
While that was a setback, on Monday, the proposition received a major endorsement when Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tweeted he was "for the homeless" and supported Prop. C.
"We're disappointed that the mayor chose to oppose this measure. We're confident we're going to win this without her," spokeswoman with the Coalition on Homelessness, Jennifer Friedenbach said today, adding that the proposition has the support of U.S. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.
"We have a really strong grass roots campaign that is really inspiring the hearts of San Franciscans who want to see the homelessness crisis tackled today," Friedenbach said.
In a statement, Breed argued that Prop. C lacks fiscal oversight for the $250 to $300 million it seeks annually in taxes from large businesses, defined as companies that gross more than $50 million.
"We all recognize the crisis on our streets, we see it everyday. So I understand why Proposition C sounds appealing," Breed said. "I must consider the long-term impacts on our city, and thus, upon lengthy analysis and consideration, I cannot support Proposition C.
"Prop C does not audit the homelessness funds we are already spend nor provide stable legal footing for its own funds. It puts the cart before the horse and then sends both down a dead-end street," she said.
One homeless man said he's disappointed with Mayor Breed's opposition.
"I think I should start protesting," George Felton said. "She come out here, on this block right here and she told us she was going to help us with housing."
Felton's reality is sleeping on the streets, staying up until BART runs and then riding back and forth in order to get sleep.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, also both announced their opposition to Prop. C on Friday.
Opponents of the proposition say it would cause companies to leave San Francisco and that they could lay off more than 1,000 middle income employees over a 10-year-period if they are forced to pay the taxes levied by Prop. C.
"Your clerk at Safeway, your brewer at a brewery, your retail clerk that works at Timbuk2. The proponents want to make this all about big business, but we have many small businesses that are impacted," claimed Jess Montejano, a No on Prop. C spokesperson.
But Friedenbach retorted that everyday San Franciscans would not be paying the tax and that only the very top corporations would.
"There are shovel ready projects that if they had the funding, they could be built. There's housing units that if we had subsidies, we can move homeless people into tomorrow," Friedenbach said.
Fifty percent of Prop C funds, or about $150 million, would go toward housing and 25 percent, or about $75 million, toward mental health and substance abuse services.
The rest of the funds would go toward prevention and providing more shelter beds. The measure would also require an oversight committee.
In addition to Pelosi and Speier, other elected officials who have pledged support for Prop. C include Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Supervisors Vallie Brown, Hillary Ronen, Aaron Peskin, Norman Yee, Rafael Mandelman, Sandra Lee Fewer and Jane Kim. Vote-by-mail ballots for the Nov. 6 election are set to arrive in mailboxes this week and early voting at San Francisco City Hall begins Tuesday.
KTVU's Amber Lee contributed to this report
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff supports Prop. C