San Francisco tax-break vote delayed as Twitter deal lags 

The lack of an agreement with Twitter over a community investment plan has delayed a vote on a six-year tax break deal proposed to keep the growing microblogging service based in San Francisco.

As part of the estimated $22 million tax break package proposed to keep Twitter from leaving The City and instead relocating to the mid-Market Street area, the tech company would have to enter into a community benefit agreement.

That agreement, however, remains under negotiation and has delayed the full Board of Supervisors’ vote on the tax break.

The agreement is being used by advocates of the deal to win support. Supervisor Jane Kim, who is carrying the legislation, is involved in the negotiations, along with board President David Chiu.

The tax break legislation was expected to be voted on by the full board Tuesday. But with concerns about finalizing the agreement by next week, the board’s Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday voted to send the legislation to the full board for a vote April 5, at the earliest.

The two-week delay came amid concerns from Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi about moving forward legislation without finalizing an agreement or getting public vetting. It’s unknown if a hearing about the agreement would be held prior to a board vote on the tax break.

The debate over the payroll tax break for the mid-Market area has ignited an ideological battle over tax breaks for businesses and it has other tech businesses crying foul. And opponents have warned about the threat of gentrification.

Supporters say the tax break is wise policy that would complement other efforts to turn around the long-troubled mid-Market area.

Chiu said the legislation would "grow our innovation economy and our 21st-century economy, in part around this mid-Market area in a way that will really revitalize this neighborhood."

Last week, Twitter officials said they would move into the former San Francisco Mart building at Market and Ninth streets if the tax break is approved. Its workforce is projected to increase from 250 to 3,000 by July 2013. The company would continue to pay the 1.5 percent payroll tax on existing workers.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

 

Draft community benefit agreement with Twitter

  • Devote $200,000 annually to locally contracted services, microbusinesses, entrepreneurs and ethnic restaurants and businesses
  • After Twitter "grows to scale," it will implement a charitable matching program to benefit nonprofits in the Tenderloin and South of Market area
  • Encourage employees to patronize area stores, restaurants and services in the area, such as coffee shops, restaurants, gyms, Pilates studios
  • At least 25 percent of new hires to be local residents
  • Partner with San Francisco Unified School District, possibly "helping schools learn to use Twitter to communicate with parents"
  • "Bridging the digital divide" by donating used computers to youth-serving organizations in the area
  • Encourage employees to take paid volunteer days
  • Appoint community liaison

Source: Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee

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