What to Know
- The ballot measure would raise taxes on gross receipts over $50 million
- The measure is written by advocates for the homeless and funded largely by Salesforce and Marc Benioff
- Opponents to Prop C include San Francisco's mayor and Twitter/Square CEO Jack Dorsey
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff plays master of ceremonies to the giant Dreamforce conference every year in San Francisco — and while it's been called the hottest ticket in town, he said it came with some chilling emails and phone calls from customers this year.
"Shocked that on the way to the conference — to this building — they had to step over human feces. Here. In San Francisco," he said, speaking at Moscone West during the Silver SPUR Awards luncheon, a week before Election Day.
Benioff said it was that experience that steeled his resolve to support Proposition C — a grassroots-led ballot measure that would tax San Francisco's largest companies — those making over $50 million per year — and earmark the money for housing and homelessness issues, including behavioral health services.
Supporters of Prop C say it would house 6,000 of the city's estimated 7,500 homeless individuals, and add at least another 1,000 shelter beds, clearing the shelter wait list. Benioff said he believes it's a civic responsibility for successful companies and billionaires to clean up the streets — and he believes this is the best way to do it.
But opponents of the measure, including Mayor London Breed, say it would pour money into a broken system, making it harder to implement structural reforms to how San Francisco deals with homelessness in the first place.
"We can't just spend money without doing the work to figure out the best ways to spend it," Breed said at the SPUR luncheon.
Tech leaders including Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey also worry that a tax hike will make it harder for large companies to justify locating in San Francisco, causing them to leave and take jobs with them. Dorsey has had spirited exchanges with Benioff on Twitter in the weeks leading up to the election.
In the end, voters will decide whether an additional $300 million per year is what's needed to solve homelessness in San Francisco — or if doing business in San Francisco is already too expensive, and elected leaders should figure out a different solution.