Detroit doesn’t place burdensome regulations on automobile manufacturers; Idaho doesn’t put undue restrictions and hurdles in front of potato farmers; and California takes steps to protect its farmers — because these industries are part of the lifeblood and identity of their respective states.
These industries do more than just create jobs, tax revenue and prestige — they became a symbol of who they are, part of the fabric of the community and the economy. So it’s no surprise that their legislators focus on doing all they can to ensure that they thrive and survive. It really isn’t anything novel; it happens in almost every state.
And then there’s San Francisco. The city appears hell-bent on hurting the innovation industry that has made the it the tech capital of the world. The tech industry creates hundreds of high-paying jobs and millions in tax revenue and has helped turn San Francisco into one of the most sought-after locales in the country.
When companies such as Twitter, Airbnb, Zynga and others emerge in San Francisco, they perpetuate an innovation life cycle as they act as incubators for the next generation of entrepreneurs that will continue the economic boom.
Despite all that, San Francisco seems intent on killing the golden goose. Instead of celebrating the growth of tech companies that add millions upon millions to the tax coffers, San Francisco demonizes their success.
San Francisco may soon see its tech-title taken away.
It starts with a proposed payroll tax that would only apply to tech companies. Eric Mar, a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors, even went so far as to say that the tax would serve as indemnification for the “downside of the technology boom,” according to The New York Times.
It continues with the shutting down of private bus services for tech workers that reduce traffic and pollution and encourage residents to stay in the city. And, finally, San Francisco continues its battle with ride-sharing companies by mandating fingerprints and trying to shoehorn ride-sharing entrepreneurs into “employee” status.
And lest we talk about the draconian regulations on home-sharing platforms that will cost San Franciscans millions… As a city that is home to sharing services like Airbnb, rather than embrace them, the city is consistently looking to pass laws to make them illegal.
Rises wages and living costs are issues that are no doubt placing an added burden on the middle class of San Francisco. We need solutions to ensure that the San Francisco middle class doesn’t go extinct. But scapegoating San Francisco’s innovation leaders isn’t going to make the problem go away. On the contrary, it will make it worse.
While San Francisco’s leaders attack tech industries, other cities recognize their benefit and are wooing these high-paying jobs to leave the Bay Area — and bring their taxes and prestige.
Myriad other municipalities — from Boulder to Salt Lake City — are all taking steps to turn their city into the new tech-mecca. Through tax incentives, low-costs of living and an eager and educated work-pool, these cities are more than willing to woo the next generation of entrepreneurs to start their businesses there.
Hopefully, San Francisco legislators will realize the amazing gift that arrived in their city — hundreds of talented, motivated, highly educated and innovative individuals. And rather than looking this gift-horse in the mouth and passing legislation that makes housing less affordable and adds more traffic to clogged streets and pollution to the air, the city will embrace the tech innovations, and innovators, that have made it the envy of the world.
If not, San Francisco may soon see its tech-title taken away. If that happens, no doubt there will be hand-wringing, finger-pointing and questions about what went wrong.