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San Francisco Proposition E: Hotel Tax for Cultural Purposes

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San Francisco’s Proposition E would redirect a fraction of the city’s hotel taxes to support the arts. The Board of Supervisors unanimously put this measure on the ballot, and it wouldn’t require a tax increase.  


This measure would dedicate 1.5% of the city’s 8% base hotel tax to arts grants and endowments - which would include creating funding for cultural districts and centers, among other efforts. The tax income leftover would go back into the general fund.


Using part of these proceeds to support the arts was actually the original intended purpose of the hotel tax when it was created in 1961. And until the early 2000s, the tax supported the city’s arts industries and the building and operation costs of convention centers. But these allocations were amended during the budget review in the early 2000s and ultimately repealed entirely.  


This new measure was proposed after a similar measure, Proposition S, failed to get the votes it needed in 2016. That measurewould have redirected funds from the hotel tax to support the arts and homelessness relief programs. Like Proposition S, this measure would need two thirds of the vote to pass.  


Proposition E was spearheaded by the San Francisco Arts & Culture Coalition. It’s endorsed by Mayor London Breed, the Hotel Council of San Francisco, and a number of San Francisco arts and culture coalitions.


The San Francisco Controller’s Office has said that the amendment would have “significant impact on the cost of government", and expressed concern about having less money in the city’s general discretionary budget.


So, if you support using a portion of hotel stay taxes to fund arts programming, vote yes. If you want all of these proceeds to continue just going into the general fund, vote no.