Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BOMA San Francisco Leads the Way – A Report on the November 2, 2010 Election

The Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco represents the physical assets of commercial property owners and managers. That means the hundreds of multi-tenant and corporate office buildings in the City, as well as the thousands of businesses housed in these structures and the hundreds more firms employed to maintain and service these structures.

With our members’ long term investments in our community, and with the livelihoods of thousands at stake, it’s absolutely vital that our organization advocate on behalf of our members with the public policy leaders of San Francisco. BOMA must raise and spend funds to defend our members against measures that would reduce property values, endanger commerce or unfairly restrict private property rights. BOMA San Francisco advocates continuously for the well-being of our members and their clients through a variety of meetings during the year with members of the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor, heads of city departments, and state and federal legislators. 2010 was no different. Indeed, 2010 was a very important and very busy year for BOMA San Francisco’s advocacy efforts:

  • BOMA San Francisco was one of the first organizations to support the effort to reform the Muni wage law governing transit operators, whose salaries and benefits had been embedded in the city’s charter. That effort, led by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, resulted in a ballot measure, Proposition G, which passed overwhelmingly in November. BOMA’s Political Action Committee (BOMA SF-PAC)  was a major contributor to help get that measure on the ballot, and gain voter approval.
  • BOMA San Francisco led the effort to create a coalition of business organizations to fight new tax measures being considered by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as they wrestled with a huge city deficit. BOMA significantly funded the advocacy and outreach efforts that resulted in the withdrawal of two onerous tax measures: a commercial rent tax, and an increase in the parking tax. When two other tax measures were placed on the November ballot, BOMA contributed substantially to defeat the increase in the Hotel Tax (Proposition J) and the increase in the property sales – Transfer Tax (Proposition N).  Proposition J was soundly defeated, as a majority of San Franciscans understood that tourism is San Francisco's #1 business, and increasing the hotel tax would hurt the recruitment and retention of conferences and conventions. Unfortunately, BOMA and our Economic Recovery SF coalition were not successful in defeating Proposition N, the measure that will significantly increase the real estate transfer tax beginning December 17, 2010.  It passed because most voters did not see this tax increase affecting them. Our coalition tried but failed to make the connection in voters’ minds between increasing the transfer tax rate on sales of $5 million or more to the overall increase in costs to tenants, businesses, and their customers. The increase in the tax rate from 1.5% to 2.0% - on property sales between $5 million and $10 million - and an increase from 1.5% to 2.5% on sales over $10 million passed handily. San Francisco will now lead the state with the highest property transfer tax rate of any jurisdiction.
  • BOMA San Francisco was also involved in the recent district elections for the Board of Supervisors. No other local political body has as much influence on the city’s real estate industry as they do. BOMA was one of the first, and largest contributors to a new business/labor coalition entitled the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth (Alliance).  In our opinion, and that of our union allies, nothing is as important or vital to San Francisco as growing the city’s private sector economy and creating jobs. Consequently, BOMA spent considerably to help fund the Alliance which supported business-friendly candidates. Happily, the newly-elected Board of Supervisors will reflect a more moderate approach to local governance, and will be more focused on creating jobs and helping businesses grow. Congratulations to the newly-elected Supervisors: Mark Farrell, Jane Kim, Scott Wiener, and Malia Cohen.

BOMA San Francisco’s advocacy mantra is simple: 'If you aren’t at the table, you’re probably on the menu.' Owners and managers of commercial real estate must continuously protect their investments. That is one very good reason for them to belong to BOMA San Francisco. We are active participants in the local political process on behalf of our members, and will “walk the talk” when called upon. Now, with 2011 upon us, it will be important for BOMA to continue to play as large a role as possible in the upcoming Mayor’s race, and to defend against propositions that hurt our industry and/or our city’s economy.

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