Vote “Yes” on San Francisco’s Proposition S

If you are registered to vote in San Francisco, please join with more than 70 local arts and homelessness organizations to support Proposition S, a measure that seeks to reclaim the city’s Hotel Tax Fund as a stable source of funding for the arts and low-income housing.

When San Francisco’s Hotel Tax Fund was created in 1961, it was hailed as a model by arts advocates around the country.  Visitors to San Francisco paid a 3% tax on their hotel bills, and half of the money generated was granted to the city’s arts organizations. The fund was established because the legislators realized that the city’s vibrant cultural scene was a major draw for tourists.  The Hotel Tax Fund was an ingenious way to get extra money from the tourists to keep that cultural engine stoked.

Culture at the Crossroads mural by Susan Cervantes received Hotel Tax funds.

“Culture at the Crossroads, 1998” is a mural directed by Susan Cervantes in collaboration with 16 muralists from Precita Eyes that received Hotel Tax funds. (Photo: Susan Cervantes)

For decades San Francisco’s Hotel Tax Fund provided robust, growing revenues to the arts and culture. In 1974 some of the funds were earmarked to support low-income housing groups since increased tourism was pushing housing prices up.

But in 2003 the city began to freeze the allocations for culture and housing. In 2013 the earmarks for arts funding and low-income housing were removed from the Hotel Tax Fund legislation altogether.

A vote “Yes” on S means critical funding to the arts will be reinstated.

The Hotel Tax Fund has seen exponential increases in recent years (from $170 million in 2005 to an expected $440 million in 2017) as the number of tourists and hotel room prices have sky-rocketed. Proposition S will not increase the tax rate (which has been 14% since 1996), it will simply re-allocate the money that is already coming in.

By re-establishing the arts and housing earmarks on the Hotel Tax Fund, Proposition S will guarantee that millions of additional dollars will be available to local arts organizations and to groups serving the homeless. Funding increases will be phased in for the next four years, gradually restoring the funding to the old levels for a number of arts-related City agencies. New programs will also be established to ensure that everyone in the city has access to the arts.

Opponents of Proposition S argue that the city legislators need to be able to spend the Hotel Tax Funds as they see fit, but we feel that the arts funding crisis is urgent at this point.  Many arts organizations are struggling to stay afloat as one funding source after another is cut, and the rapidly increasing housing costs are driving many artists out of town. If we want to preserve the vibrant arts scene that makes San Francisco such a great place to live, it is imperative that we make more arts funding available.

Need more information?

We encourage you to visit the website of the proponents of this measure at, and to read the legal text of Proposition S, as well as the Title & Summary and the Controller’s Statement about this proposition. There is more information about the history of San Francisco’s grant funding in the 50th anniversary report of San Francisco’s Grants for thte Arts.

It’s Time to Support the Arts!!!

 Please Vote “Yes” on Proposition S!