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Despite an influx of big real estate money, Proposition I wins!

Thanks to the hard work of so many on the ground, San Francisco passed a tax on the sales of expensive properties to fund rental assistance and affordable housing. Big real estate gathered statewide resources to throw over $5 million at a misleading campaign against the common-sense measure, but voters in San Francisco showed up to invest in a more just recovery.

See Tim Redmond’s piece in 48 Hills on why Big Money Didn’t Win in San Francisco this November, and see below for an article from SF Chronicle about Proposition I’s passage.


San Francisco’s Proposition I, tax increase on real estate sales over $10 million, wins

Roland Li and J.D. Morris for SF Chronicle, Nov. 4, 2020 The Transamerica Pyramid, seen behind construction on nearby housing developments in February, was sold this year. San Francisco collects transfer tax on such deals.The Transamerica Pyramid, seen behind construction on nearby housing developments in February, was sold this year. San Francisco collects transfer tax on such deals.Photo: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

A San Francisco ballot measure to raise the real estate transfer tax on sales over $10 million won handily Tuesday evening in results that included a large number of mail-in ballots.

Proposition I was convincingly ahead Wednesday afternoon with all precincts reported and more than 320,000 mail-in ballots tallied. The measure required a simple majority to pass.

Supervisor Dean Preston sponsored the measure, which will double the city’s transfer tax from 2.75% to 5.5% for sales from $10 million to less than $25 million. Sales of $25 million and over will see their tax rate increase from 3% to 6%.

Prop. I’s revenue — which could grow to $100 million a year — will go to the general fund. Preston has said the Board of Supervisors will take future legislative action to use the funds to provide rent payment assistance to tenants hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and to build much-needed affordable housing.

Opponents from the real estate industry raised around $5.3 million to defeat the measure, by far the most money spent on a city race or ballot measure during November’s election.

The California Association of Realtors, National Associations of Realtors, and major office landlords Brookfield Properties, Boston Properties and Kilroy Realty were major donors. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce organized the opposition.

Opponents said the measure would harm the economy. The city’s Office of the Controller reached the same conclusion, finding that the tax would discourage property investment and make it more expensive to build new housing by increasing the cost of land.

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