FEE FOR DYING IN SAN FRANCISCO
INCREASES BY 32%
Even as Population Declines, Fees Per Citizen Increase; 12%
or More of City Budget Comes From Fees; Business Group Charges
High Cost of Living is Direct Cause of Middle Class Flight from
November 16, 2005, 10:30 a.m.
From the Committee on Jobs and the Golden Gate Restaurant
Long known for its high cost of living, San Francisco is now
also known for its high cost of dying. In fact, according to a
recent study by a coalition of business organizations, on a per
capita basis San Francisco out-charges its residents for everything
from recreation fees to reclaiming a stolen car.
In an addendum to its June 2005 report "A
Hefty Toll: How San Francisco's Broken Fee System Affects Businesses
and Residents," a coalition led by the San Francisco-based
Committee on Jobs documents yet another wave of fee increases
that were recently adopted by San Francisco as part of its $5.3
billion budget for the 2005-2006 fiscal year. With the passage
of the largest budget in City history, the report says, government
officials raised fees for basic services across the board, including
the base rate for dying in a City hospital which was increased
by 32% to $8,000. Approximately 12 percent of the City's budget
comes from charging its residents and businesses fees.
"This report was developed by a group of organizations who
recognize the unfortunate fact that employees increasingly can't
afford to stay San Francisco residents," said Kevin Westlye.
"We began to see the fees - and the high cost of living they
help create - as a direct barrier to the health of local businesses
and employees. What we've found is shocking; only San Francisco
could figure out a way to balance its budget by raising fees on
the dead and injured."
On a per-capita basis, San Franciscans paid roughly $461 in governmental
fees in 2004, more than double that of San Jose's per capita figure
of $222 and almost triple Honolulu's $156 per capita number. San
Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area, with a population of
nearly 900,000, significantly higher than that of San Francisco.
Honolulu is also an appropriate case study for comparison because
it has a combined City and County government structure, as does
San Francisco, said Nathan Nayman, Executive Director of the Committee
Here are a few examples of how residents and businesses are impacted
by San Francisco's fee schedule, as cited in A Hefty Toll and
· The fee for surviving a trauma in a City hospital was
recently boosted from $3,784 to $8,000, an increase of 110%.
· Businesses must pay a $452.44 fee, increased 23% since
2003, to simply hold a Closing-Out Sale.
· Acquiring a "ball throwing" permit costs $522.47,
an increase of 27% in just 2 years.
· Sixty four cents of a $2 cup of coffee bought at a San
Francisco café goes towards paying fees and taxes, thereby
increasing the cost of a cup of coffee for consumers.
· The City charges a non-refundable $250 application fee
to process an application for painting a curb. There is a separate
fee for painting if the application is accepted!
"San Francisco's fee system is out of control" said
Nathan Nayman. "There has to be some rationality attached
to how a City charges its business and residents for services,
particularly when those services continue to decline. This is
a City out of control and it needs to stop."
According to Nayman, a closer look at San Francisco's population
trends over the past five years relative to budget growth reveals
an alarming development: San Francisco continues to lead California
in both the rate and size of its population decline. In fact,
San Francisco's population is down by 32,435 or 4.2% since 2000.
With this exodus of residents, the City would be expected to spend
less on services, Nayman said, yet the report shows that spending
continues to rise, with no end in sight.
A Hefty Toll offered a clear set of reform measures with hopes
that the City would take immediate and substantive action to help
fix San Francisco's fee system. These recommendations included:
· Completing the Master Fee Schedule
· Developing and implementing a system to clearly communicate
the fee schedule to the public
· Conducting an immediate audit and review of all individual
fees and eliminating duplicative and obsolete fees
· Taking administrative or legislative action to ensure
that fees are consistent with broader public policy goals.
· "The sad fact is that elected officials at City
Hall have paid little attention to the initial report and its
recommendations," said Kevin Westlye. "They appear to
view San Francisco's residents and businesses as a never ending
stream of revenue. But this well will run dry; now is the time
for San Francisco to get its house in order."
About the Report
In June 2005 a coalition of economic development and good government
organizations published A Hefty Toll: How San Francisco's Broken
Fee System Affects Businesses and Residents after conducting a
thorough analysis of San Francisco's government fee system. An
addendum to the report was published in November 2005 following
the passage of San Francisco's 2005-2006 budget. The sponsor organizations
of A Hefty Toll are: Committee on Jobs, the San Francisco Chamber
of Commerce, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and
the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
The full report and the addendum can be accessed at www.sfvotewatch.com,
www.cuipsf.org or www.sfchamber.com.
For more information, contact Contact: Nathan Nayman, Committee
on Jobs at 415-956-9966, firstname.lastname@example.org
or Kevin Westlye, Golden Gate Restaurant Association at 415-781-5348