San Francisco voters may be considering tacking a 3.25% tax on single rides, and 1.5% tax to pool rides, if an Aaron Peskin-proposed proposition passes muster with the Board of Supervisors.
We haven’t heard much about the San Francisco’s proposed Uber and Lyft tax since the two rideshare companies informally agreed to the deal in August 2018, per SF Weekly. But that handshake arrangement has gone nowhere since — until just recently. KPIX reported Sunday that the Uber and Lyft tax is likely to go before SF voters on the November ballot. The Chronicle adds that the new charge would be a 3.25% tax on single rides, and a 1.5% on pool rides, and the measure could bring an additional $30 million a year that would supposedly be set aside for street infrastructure improvements.
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“We can level the playing field by doing what Portland, New York, Chicago have done,” the measure’s author, Sup. Aaron Peskin, told KPIX. “We’ll be the first in the state to go down this road.”
The roads themselves are the reason for the tax proposal. You might recall the October 2018 county transportation authority report finding that half of all congestion increases in the city proper were rideshare drivers, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s 2017 remarks that Uber and Lyft might be “creating a public nuisance in San Francisco.” Peskin’s proposal to account for that in Uber & Lyft's yearly tax returns intends to address that, though may result in higher fees for riders.
“Yes, it is true that Uber or Lyft can choose to pass some of that cost along to their riders," Peskin admitted to KPIX. “They have yet to say whether or not they are going to do that. But I think we all need to be a part of the solution,”
The Chronicle report notes the key detail that Peskin’s former staffer David Noyola is now an Uber representative, and was involved in brokering this proposed arrangement between Peskin’s office, Uber, and Lyft. So the rideshare companies are presumably less likely to oppose tax legislation that they had a role in creating. The Chronicle also vaguely cites some polling that says “the companies had a shot at beating back such a tax increase,” but it’s unclear who conducted that poll, or when.
The measure seems to have support of Mayor Breed, who said in a vague statement, “This measure will provide funding to improve our public transportation system and reduce the congestion.”
Peskin hopes to bring the proposal before the Board of Supervisors in May, and then to November ballot. It would require a two-thirds majority to pass, and if approved, could go into effect as early 2020