The New Economy Needs to Support Local Economies

April 18, 2016

As the owner of a small business in San Francisco I pay lots and lots of fees and taxes for the “privilege” of running a business in San Francisco.  Frankly, I don’t like paying this money.  I very much question how this money is being spent and always feel like running a business in San Francisco is way more expensive than it needs to be and certainly more expensive than running the same business just a few miles away in South San Francisco. That said, as long as I want to operate in San Francisco I understand that “it is what it is.” But what does not have to be this way is some businesses not paying their fair share and two such businesses in the pet care industry not doing their fair share to support San Francisco are rover.com and dogvacay.com.

I am not necessarily against having a someone’s dog stay in a stranger’s house, a house not designed with proper ventilation, drainage, a fire sprinkler system, monitored security systems, closed circuit cameras, or one not cleaned with specially formulated industry specific disinfectants or run by industry professionals with years of training and experience.  I’m also not necessarily against someone allowing some random dog walking company to enter your house via some app on your phone to take your dog for a stroll.  I just wonder why you would allow your dog to stay in such a place or allow someone you’ve never met to come into your house. But if you do and if you pay for these services then that business (because that’s what it is) and the “independent contractors” (as they are claimed to be) who provide those services should pay ALL the business taxes and fees other businesses pay and have all the necessary business licenses that any business has to have to operate in San Francisco.

For years San Francisco allowed Airbnb and other similar businesses to operate without paying the hotel tax every “traditional” hotel is required to pay. Just recently, Airbnb “agreed” to start paying that tax (just like I guess I “agreed” to pay my taxes all those years ago when Pet Camp opened). What those renting out their homes or couches or whatever have yet to start paying is the “business property tax” that other business are required to pay. That’s the tax businesses pay on such things as computers, tables, chairs, dishwashers, washers & dryers (the list is pretty long if you’ve not gathered that), and taxes that anyone who runs a business out of their homes under the rover.com or dogvacay.com umbrella should also be paying! I don’t want to hear that this is unfair (why is it unfair to collect it from them but not from me?), or too hard to collect. All Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu needs to do is go to one of the web pages and see the hundreds of people running these businesses and not paying taxes, or better yet ask the companies to provide a list. Come on San Francisco, level the playing field! Do your fair share to collect the money owed to you so that all San Francisco businesses, whether a dog day care, pet boarding facility or dog walking company, are treated equally and so that all San Franciscans can benefit from this missing revenue. If you agree and want the new economy to do their fair share, feel free to email Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu at assessor@sfgov.org and let her know.

Thanks for reading.

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