By now you’ve all probably heard that Twitter might settle down at 9th and Market if the city gives them a payroll tax-break (there was buzz about it already at the end of January, and we mentioned it here). So of course now the Mayor (along with Supervisors Jane Kim and David Chiu), are introducing legislation to exempt new jobs in the Central Market and Tenderloin areas from the City’s payroll tax (and to show you that this is serious the proposal, it even has a long acronym, CMTPTE). The CMTPTE would exclude from the City’s payroll expense tax all new qualified employees to the Central Market and Tenderloin Area for a period of 6 years. Currently, any for-profit business in San Francisco with a payroll above $250,000 pays 1.5% of payroll in taxes.

According to the backers of the proposal, this legislation represents a huge opportunity to attract new businesses to an area with a more than 30% vacancy rate – the highest in the city – and to aid in the effort to cultivate an arts district as well as bring in much-needed retail, jobs and services to the adjacent Tenderloin and SOMA neighborhoods. Basically, the idea is that retail and services, as well as arts groups, serving “Twitter’s employee demographic” (along the lines of young, artsy, urban) will follow.

On Wednesday, March 16 beginning at 10am this legislation is being heard at the Budget and Finance Committee. If you like the idea (and it seems more than two thirds of San Franciscans do), they are looking for supporters to send letters to the Board, speak at the hearing, and be listed on an official list of supporters. If you are willing to do any of these things, you can contact Ellyn Parker (ellyn.parker@sfgov.org) as soon as possible.

Or if you don’t like the idea (we’re still not sure about it ourselves), go to the hearing anyways and let them know you think this is bullshit.

You can find all the details about the legislation here, on the website of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and a summary here.

Also, here’s a list of some of the current prospects that they think could benefit from a payroll tax exemption and potentially close deals as a result:

· Twitter, which has outgrown its current locale and is interested in the arts district amenities and the centrally-located office space
· Two growing hotel chains, both of which cater to the creative economy and are contemplating space on Central Market
· Black Rock LLC. (Burning Man), who is looking to locate their headquarters on Central Market and who pays the payroll tax
· Proposed upscale youth hostel at 1095 Market Street, which received Planning approval but is still raising money for the project
· Proposed mixed-use theater project at 950 Market that may be anchored by American Conservatory Theater. The project, sponsored by our community
partner the Tenderloin Economic Development Project, includes substantial frontage on Market Street and is in need of prominent retail tenants.
· Full-service grocery store – we tried to recruit one a few years ago to no avail; with the payroll tax exemption, we could be successful.

Photo of the SF Mart building on Market where Twitter is looking to relocate, by Anomalous_A from The Tender’s Flickr pool.