Urban Fold

Debating San Francisco's Community Benefit Districts

There are 12 community benefit districts in San Francisco, which raise their own taxes to create funds for various local projects. But some argue they favor big businesses.

"[S]ince the first district was approved for Union Square in 1999, there have been concerns that those community efforts benefit the business community and not the city as a whole.

While businesses typically try to block attempts by the city to boost taxes or fees that will aid the entire community, they're willing to pay when they get to decide where the money will go, said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the city's Coalition on Homelessness.

'The choices they make are always in the interest of big business,' she added. 'It's very anti-democratic.'"

Some argue that weighted voting based on the size of businesses allows major business owners to steamroll smaller businesses to create the districts.

Full Story: SF community benefit districts praised, criticized

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