Board approves Twitter/mid-Market tax break

Tenderloin power broker Randy Shaw, who helped craft the tax cut deal, talks with Sup. Jane Kim just after the vote.
Luke Thomas

After making some last minute amendments proposed by sponsoring Sup. Jane Kim, including cutting the northernmost 10 blocks of the Tenderloin out of the tax exclusion zone, the Board of Supervisors today voted 8-3 to approve a six-year payroll tax holiday on new jobs for Twitter and the mid-Market area.
Even the three dissenting supervisors – John Avalos, Ross Mirkarimi, and David Campos – said they support economic development efforts for mid-Market and the Tenderloin and a targeted tax break to keep Twitter from following through on its threat to leave town for Brisbane.
“I think the city blinked too soon,” Mirkarimi said, objecting the fact that Twitter has not yet agreed to a community benefits agreements (CBA) and calling for a broader discussion of business tax reform, noting that this piecemeal approach has caused Zynga and other companies to also demand a tax cut. “I would rather take a step back.”
Avalos called the deal a “bad precedent” that encourages these same kinds of ultimatums and other bad corporate behavior while adding to economic inequities. “I have real concerns about disparities in wealth in this country,” he said.
Campos said he applauded Kim for taking on the issue, but said it didn’t make sense to vote on this before a CBA was approved. He also asked the Budget Analyst’s Office to study a proposal by City Economist Ted Egan to institute a parcel tax on vacant commercial properties to incentivize owners to lower rents enough to attract tenants. He acknowledged that Kim has pledged to sponsor such legislation and said he wants to work with her on that.
The rest of the supervisors said they voted for the legislation in order to support the business community and many of them called for replacing the payroll tax with another form of business tax, such as a gross receipts tax, as well as reforming how the city taxes stock options.
“I think it’s unfortunate that this has devolved into a discussion of one company,” Sup. Mark Farrell said of legislation that began as an effort to keep Twitter in town. It was a point echoed by Sup. Malia Cohen: “I’m extremely skeptical of how the discussion has turned to focus on one company.”
Cohen and Campos also raised concerns that the mid-Market tax break could serve to draw businesses from other struggling parts of town, with Cohen noting that she was voting for the legislation but “with serious reservations about the mixed messages we’re sending to our small business community.”
Kim answered the criticism by noting that the legislation was crafted to apply only to “net new jobs” in an effort to discourage companies from moving to the region in order to erase their business tax obligations. She also said mid-Market is unique because it “was always intended for large commercial use” and is well-served by transit.
In addition to the CBA, Kim also proposed trailing legislation that would create a Community Benefits Task Force to evaluate the CBAs that the legislation requires big companies to negotiate with the city and unspecified legislation on protecting tenants from displacement.
The only real surprise in today’s hearing was the “yes” vote of Sup. Eric Mar, who had previously told the Guardian “I’m voting with the progressives on this one.” But he said that he was won over by what he called Kim’s community outreach efforts and with the trailing legislation that she proposed because, he said, “This tax break will have a gentrifying impact.”


sensible incentivization is done with (which ONLY the SFBG and daly thought was a big deal anyway) can we get back to real news stories of significance?

Rather than petty expressions of class envy?

Posted by TheDoc on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

Goes the fake doc.


Posted by marcos on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

then what does that make Gabriel Haaland - who has a comment and opinion on every piece of legislation in front of the board or voters?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

Gotta agree with you here, I like Gabriel and agree with him on most issues, but if he's being quoted in most every issue, then our bench is very thin or the Guardian's reach is very limited.

I'm down with labor, but in the aggregate, I'm not sure that they way they've led for the past 30 years is qualification for leading us now, at least without serious rethinking and reconfiguring.


Posted by marcos on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

Your publication needs more source material than this Haaland fellow. Your paper is losing credibility if it looks like you're a messaging piece for just one person.

Posted by The Commish on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

Like Bruce Brugmann?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

The more I analyze this, the more I think Randy is giving her one, Randy by name, randy by nature!!!

Posted by Patrick Brown on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

Seriously - a female supervisor is pictured talking to a supporter and your response is that she must be fucking him?

It's sickening what the extremist left degenerates to when it loses. No different than the extremist right in this country - you have H. Brown and his rabid antisemitism and his minion here denigrating women.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

It's equally sickening what the extremist corporate right degenerates to when it "wins." No amount of money is ever enough. No desire to contribute to the country that allows them to begin this type business (I wonder how friendly China would be to a free speech social media company).

Each supervisor who voted for this despite expressing concern, even though no one has provided evidence this type of tax break is effective and every city analyst said tax breaks don't work and Senator Leno and Gov. Brown are pitching eliminating enterprise zones, has demonstrated they are willing to enact known bad policy to subsidize mega-millionaire companies and should lose their office.

Posted by Hope Johnson on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

You're starting to sound like a supe contender Hope. Be careful, we might recruit you. ;)

Posted by Eric Brooks on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

Bullshit comment, Patrick, whether you agree or disagree with the legislation.

Posted by Thea Selby on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 4:25 am

The lucretia snaffles and doc etc seem to come out strong before any of these corporate giveaway days. Me thinks they may be paid to troll these sites. So we just glean what we can from their blathering, Arthur Evans too. Very telling these little provocations.

In the meantime, the cards are dealt for major reform of revenue. That will be the real deal.

Troll away!!!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

Why shouldn't a company which offers the public a beneficial service get the same tax relief that any church gets? I can think of nothing but detriment as a result of most interactions with religious institutions, yet they enjoy a free ride.

Let's tax the churches and let the politicians negotiate corporate tax breaks in the traditional manner: behind closed doors with lots of input from lobbyists.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

i think gabriel haaland should register as a lobbyist, since the subject has come up. he's a power broker, all right, around city hall and on lots of issues doing good work.

yes, i know he is twice exempt, as a lawyer and a union rep.

but just as i want willie brown and rose pak registered as lobbyists and tracked as such, i want gabriel to set a standard of self registering for ethical and political reasons.

take the lead, gabriel! don't wait for legislation to step up to the plate and make the same disclosures as any other lobbyists at city hall.

Posted by MPetrelis on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

I agree, Michael, that we need to be knowing who is influencing our elected all around. But with this Board of Supervisors disrespecting the legacy of Joe Lynn and appointing a seat warming team player to the Ethics Commission solely due to her ethnicity, I'm not holding my breath on any sort of expanded or enforced lobbyist disclosure law.

The Ethics Commission, like the federal financial regulation agencies, is set up to protect those who break the law for real money while punishing those who forget to dot i's or cross t's. The Board of Supervisors legitimates both that conduct yesterday as well as sent a clear signal that the voter-approved Sunshine Ordinance is to be treated as advisory at best.


Posted by marcos on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 6:15 am

I work and have worked at mid market for years. My question is, what can we do for the businesses that have held up mid-Market for the last decade? We were supposed to get a new and improved Powell Station when Bloomingdales moved in--what did we get? Nothing.

And, I agree with Malia Cohen. How is it possible that time after time the small businesses get nothing and the large busineses get everything? 95% of all business in San Francisco is small business and about 80% of all employees work for small business. How can we get some attention around here?

Anyone want to start a small business union? I'm ready...

Posted by Thea Selby on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 4:16 am

@Thea, the problem is that small business, politically, acts more conservative and anti-neighborhood than the big business, largely because small business people have bought into the large business neoliberal narrative of the past 30 years.

If small business is willing to partner with San Franciscans, their customers, to welcome voter approved mandates like Healthy San Francisco and paid sick time, then perhaps there is a coalition to be built there. But if small business is just going to come at us like the Tea Party on steroids, then we'll continue to see small biz alienating the electorate and big biz using small biz to get their special corporate welfare.


Posted by marcos on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 6:39 am

If you agree with Cohen, then demand to know why she just went along with this legislation that throws bad policy after bad policy. What kind of leadership is that? If I were a D10 resident, I would want to know details of her own plan for the area to address the very concerns she voiced before voting to give money to a business that doesn't need it.

Posted by Hope Johnson on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 9:01 am

Never mind Robert Haaland.

Chris Daly is increasingly making noises against the tax break for the mid-Market area. Apparently, he won't be able to restrain himself on this issue, just as he was unable to restrain himself in opposing Prop L.

This development is the best possible thing that supporters of the tax break could hope for. Daly is more radioactive than the waters off the coast of Fukushimi, Japan.

One can only hope that Daly will run for mayor on a platform of reversing the tax break, reversing Prop L, and keeping the outdated Haight Ashbury recycling center open - and all in the name of progressive politics.

Run, Chris, run!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

Run politics run.

One could just hope of never could give of ashbury of the filth for opposing the inarticulate dogma relieving preach handjob and hurling the rigid Milk alcohol tax pr mental and this on a recycling that narco-nomads demeans.

Apparently has more squawky near the supporters that a tax in mentality trash. The disdain is the best urine-soaked street of humorless for the filth tax can threaten for.

Never himself taunted mentality preach seething to hope himself for the run never on he shriveled male to articulate himself of reversing ignore radioactive. Supporters daly is apparently reversing glorifies that some filth taunt of the urine-soaked gibberish drug.

Daly prop sect filthy.

Threats only can prop the crystal tranquilizer to glorifies of the japan palm.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

Is that real chemistry is see between Shaw and Kim in that photo?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

...or are they just negotiating price?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

Especially when she's in a position of power - she's only negotiating the price of offering sex.

Because in your POV - that's all that women are worth and all that they're capable of - negotiating the price for which they're offering sex.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 1:11 am

I believe that the joke being referred to goes as follows:

Man (to woman): Would you have sex with me for $1,000,000 ?

Woman: Of course I would.

Man: Great, would you have sex with me for $100 then?

Woman: Of course not, what do you take me for, a prostitute?

Man: I believe that we've already established that, all we're doing now is negotiating the price.

Prostitution as defined is not always a sexual act.


Posted by marcos on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 7:29 am

Steve, the tax break is not on new hires, rather on additional payroll expense above a baseline when the firm signs on for the tax break.

This means that all new hires, all raises for existing employees, and all stock options are exempt from the payroll tax for firms located in the exclusion zone who sign onto the deal.


Posted by marcos on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

Hello. And Bye.

Posted by XRumerTest on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

I would normally agree that we shouldn't create special tax protections for multi-billion dollar companies. However, what else would go in the old SF Mart building? The space is huge and there aren't companies looking for that kind of real estate anymore. It's been empty for almost three years now and if they didn't act soon who knows what would have happened. There's only so many dollar stores and donut shops a neighborhood needs. Twitter will be a great anchor for that neighborhood. Now maybe they can attract a much needed grocery store as well. Market St between 9th and 10th has added hundreds of new residential buildings. I'm glad Twitter will be moving in. I think it's a good thing for the city. Far bigger concerns should be towards Whole Foods going in at Haight and Stanyan. That'll be just plain sad. A complete loss of an internationally treasured San Francisco neighborhood to a cookie cutter corporate chain store is retarded. And Target salivating over the Metreon. If that goes through its just matter of time before WalMart will slither in. San Francisco real estate fiascos are too many to list. Lets focus on keeping the billion dollar big boxes retailers out and not losing a billion dollar start up like Twitter.

Posted by avmsf on Apr. 23, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

Lots of people want Twitter to go completely bankrupt.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

Describe how that would benefit you and society in general.

Posted by Minty on Apr. 24, 2011 @ 7:08 am

It would get our best engineers thinking about something besides how to get people to click links for one thing.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2011 @ 9:27 am

Plus it is a good bet that any profit model Twitter eventually stumbles upon will involve epic privacy violation.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2011 @ 9:45 am

Plus its pretty obvious the eventual exit strategy for all these VC funds is to unload hyper inflated garbage onto our retirement funds.

Maybe the joke will be on them this time since, Guess What?? no more retirement funds ha ahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2011 @ 9:57 am

The most successful business plan so far in the 21st century is sell worthless securities to your clients while secretly piling on so much derivative leverage you collapse your counter party.

That has to figure somehow in Twitter's strategy eventually or they are toast.

U.S. Eyes New Stock Rules
Regulators Move Toward Relaxing Limits on Shareholders in Private Companies

"Federal securities regulators are moving toward easing decades-old constraints on share issues by private companies, in a sweeping review that could remake the way American start-ups raise capital."

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2011 @ 10:13 am


Academy of Art, SF State, Art Institute of CA, Golden Gate University ... schools are the most sustainable foundation for our economy. Look at the fabulous job AAU has done with those car dealerships up and down Van Ness and St. Brigid's.

Brandon Belt optioned to Fresno 7pm tonight.

Starts in left field 8pm.

Hits 2 run homer 8:12pm.

Ya can't make this stuff up.

Go Giants!


Posted by h. brown on Apr. 23, 2011 @ 9:34 pm