Enfantino: Taxagedon continues with commercial linkage fee
An aerial view of Cityview Plaza in downtown San Jose. File photo.

    Focused on making San Jose the best city in the country to start and grow a local business, the Business San Jose Chamber PAC is the only San Jose-based organization focused exclusively on improving the business climate for small and medium enterprises and the only one 100% founded and run by local businesspeople.

    That is why we are again concerned with the direction the San Jose City Council is heading in.

    In 2016, Santa Clara County and San Jose worked tirelessly to pass a mega $1 billion bond (Measure A) to address the need for more affordable housing in and around San Jose. When the mega-bond was being sold to voters, it was sold as the answer to all of our affordable housing issues and that it would further address the issues around homelessness. But wait, that wasn’t enough.

    This March, the city placed another tax on the ballot, Measure E. This tax punishes property owners who want to sell their property and, again, it was sold to the community as more government revenue for affordable housing (same messaging as Measure A).

    Now, in the midst of a global pandemic and a historic shift in the model in which commercial and office space will be used, built or needed in the future, the city is at it yet again, following the lead of a report that was put together in what now seems to be another world — called “Pre-COVID-19” — only to raise more government taxes for affordable housing.

    Why would you even consider the results of a report that was put together pre-COVID-19? And even if you consider the report valid, why wouldn’t developers just take their jobs-creating development to a neighboring city?

    In addition to this new tax on jobs, we have another tax bomb looming in November: Proposition 15 (Split-Roll Tax Initiative), a tax on property owners of investment, commercial-tenant occupied buildings. The increased tax burden, should Prop 15 pass, will ultimately be passed on to tenants and local small business owners as increases in rent, fees and other costs.

    Recent polling indicates the initiative has a high chance of passing. If so, should you not take a step back, wait for the results of the proposition and additionally hire a new firm to prepare a commercial linkage fee study based on our current COVID-19 climate?

    We believe that at this time the city should take a step back and rethink how COVID-19 has impacted the way we do business before you punish developers and drive more business away from San Jose.

    Our elected leaders hold the future development of San Jose’s downtown, and in fact its fate, in their hands. Will they be remembered for inspiring and encouraging opportunity and business expansion in San Jose? Or will they be remembered for ending it?

    Tracey Enfantino is chair of the Business San Jose Chamber PAC.

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