Of all the places I expected a tax strike, San Francisco wasn’t high on the list. But maybe you have to hit bottom first.
After more than two years in which problems of vagrancy, vandalism, and petty crime have gotten only worse, Castro merchants say they’re going to withhold taxes from the City of San Francisco if it doesn’t address their concerns.
It’s been two and a half years since a pandemic caused them to have to close their storefronts and wait for the return of paying customers, and a year and a half since the Castro Merchants Association publicly complained about the costs they were having to shoulder to replace their frequently smashed front windows, while the city continued — only slowly — in its pandemic recovery.
But now, the Castro Merchants say they continue to feel neglected, and that they’re going to withhold license fees and city taxes pending some greater attention from the city.
We’re at a point now where it’s next to impossible to run a business in the Castro when you’re dealing with these daily issues that you know a small business owner shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not their front window is going to get smashed today, said co-president of the Castro Merchants and co-owner of MX3 Fitness, Dave Karraker, speaking to KRON4.
Karraker says the association is asking business owners stop paying taxes and stop paying the fees for licenses because the city is not providing the services that are supposed to be guaranteed based on what we’re paying to the city. Their demands were made in a letter to the city dated August 8.
You can’t have a vibrant, successful business corridor when you have people passed out high on drugs, littering your sidewalk, Karraker tells the Chronicle. These people need to get help.
The merchants’ association says they have recorded over 90 incidents of vandalism and crime that total over $170,000 in damages.
Karraker told the Bay Area Reporter that he and Alan had a lot of work to do. After the trials of the COVID pandemic, Castro Merchants is eager to present an LGBTQ neighborhood that is ready for business and tourism, he said.
Brian Springfield, executive director of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and owner of Brian Springfield Design, was voted in as vice president.
Top on the list is how we can work cooperatively with other neighborhood organizations and government officials to effectively and compassionately address the drug addicted and mentally ill individuals who have taken up residence in the Castro, stated Karraker. I don’t believe you can have a thriving business district when you have unfortunate folks passed out in front of businesses; verbally or physically assaulting Castro residents, consumers or employees; or openly doing drugs on our sidewalks.
So we’re not talking about conservatives here
On Twitter, Karraker wrote, As John Lewis famously said: Speak up, speak out. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble.
Aside from the specifics of the Castro, there’s a basic underlying question here about the function of government. Taxes are paid in exchange for basic functions. Public safety is about as fundamental a function of government as it gets. And yet in the police defunding era, that’s hardly being provided anymore.
In Southern California cities, it’s routine to see city governments spending millions and billions on homeless services while the police are hardly allowed to do anything anymore and basic infrastructure, roads, water supply, power are allowed to fall apart.
Taxes no longer pay for basic services, but for a laundry list of lefty agenda items, equity, cultural community programs, and green nonsense.