San Francisco Hotel Tax Increase, Measure J (November 2010)

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A San Francisco Hotel Tax Increase, Measure J was on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters in San Francisco as an initiated city ordinance.[1] Supporters call the measure the Hotel Fairness Initiative.[2] It was defeated.

If voters had approved Measure J, it would have raised the hotel tax in San Francisco by 2%. It also would have changed the way that the hotel tax is assessed when hotel rooms are booked online.[3]

San Francisco’s hotel tax is currently 14%. If Measure J had passed, the tax would have gone to 16%. For a visitor staying in a San Francisco hotel that charges $200/night, the hotel tax under Measure J would have amounted to an additional $32 nightly charge for that visitor.

Currently, hotel taxes are assessed so that when a customer books a hotel room through an online booking service such as Expedia or Orbitz, the hotel tax is only assessed on the amount that a hotel receives, not on the amount that the website charges the customer. If a website sells a room to an online customer for $150 a night, but only $120 of that goes to the hotel, the customer under current law is only charged a hotel tax on the lower amount. If Measure J had passed, the customer would have had to pay a hotel tax on the full amount paid to the online booking service, not the lower amount that the hotel actually receives for its room. This change was expected to generate $6 million a year.[4]

Measure K, on the same ballot, was a competing measure.

Election results

  • Yes: 116,313 (45.52%)
  • No: 139,206 (54.48%) Defeatedd

Election results are from the San Francisco elections division as of November 26, 2010.


The hotel tax increase ballot proposition was supported by a coalition that includes five members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the SF Labor Council, UNITE-HERE Local 2, Young Workers United, Senior Action Network, SEIU 1021 and Coleman Advocates.[3]


The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce opposed Measure J. They said that if Measure J passes, it is likely to result in fewer people choosing to stay in hotels in San Francisco. This would result in increased unemployment for hotel workers, as well as the money lost to the city and to San Francisco businesses that those visitors would have spent on restaurants, shopping and other activities.[4]

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, which helps large organizations book conferences at city hotels, said that at least five organizations have said they will re-think whether to hold their events in San Francisco if Proposition J passes because it will make it harder for them to provide hotel lodging for conference participants at reasonable and affordable rates.[4]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Proposition J: Shall the City increase the hotel tax rate from 14% to 16% for the next three years, confirm that anyone collecting rent from a hotel guest must also collect tax on room rental and related charges, and define “permanent resident” so that only an individual could qualify for the “permanent resident” exemption?[5]

Path to the ballot

The hotel tax increase was petitioned onto the ballot with labor union support. About 14,000 signatures were required to qualify the measure for the ballot.

See also

External links


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