Examiner Editorial: Supes ignoring SF’s record unemployment 

Somehow the Board of Supervisors doesn’t seem to have received the message that San Francisco joblessness is at its highest since the recession began. Nearly 47,000 people are out of work now, according to this week’s City Controller’s Office report. San Francisco’s unemployment rate jumped to 10.3 percent in January — up from 9.9 percent in October and just 7.7 percent a year ago.

But our City Hall lawmakers — despite their many claims of being totally committed to local relief of human suffering — have yet to bring any new job-boosting legislation to the table. Probably they are too busy blocking the small-business aid plans that Mayor Gavin Newsom keeps proposing. Newsom’s latest idea is to encourage private construction by delaying developers’ upfront city fees until after the project has brought in some income.

San Francisco’s economy would annually gain $250 million more spending, 330 new jobs and up to 80 additional housing units, according to the City Controller’s Office analysis of the legislation.

First concerns raised at Monday’s Board of Supervisors committee hearing were that not collecting fees early would delay construction of support infrastructure and push back construction of much-needed affordable housing. Newsom’s plan must survive a second committee hearing April 5 before facing the full Board of Supervisors.

At least this idea hasn’t been killed yet, like the mayor’s first business-tax-lowering package, which was barely allowed to get a committee hearing. Newsom wanted to defer city payroll taxes on new hires for two years, give tax credits to small businesses (under 50 employees) that pay toward employee health care and extend the full biotech startup payroll tax exemption for seven more years.

One little bright spot on the horizon is that San Francisco stands to gain as much as $60 million for its JobsNow program because Congress just approved a one-year extension of the funding. JobsNow pays 100 percent of wages for new hires and has helped more than 2,140 residents find work in San Francisco so far.

To be fair, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu proposed legislation to eliminate 71 business fees earlier this year. That proposal is finally expected to be heard in committee within a few weeks.

Unfortunately, Chiu’s fee-ending plan appears to be the forlorn exception to a torrent of new or increased business fees now being fast-tracked through the board. Since these are technically not taxes, they can be requested by city departments and imposed by the supervisors without citywide voter approval.

The board still doesn’t seem to understand. Piling more costs onto businesses struggling to survive a recession economy while already paying the Bay Area’s highest expense burden is hardly likely to generate new jobs for San Francisco’s 47,000 unemployed.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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