This measure would create a tax on property owners who keep a residential unit vacant for more than a total of 182 days in a calendar year. The tax would be imposed on owners at the following rates:
- For residential units in duplexes, condominiums, single-family homes and townhouses, the tax would be $3,000 for the first year a unit is vacant, and increase to $6,000 for any subsequent year a unit remains vacant.
- For all other residential units, the tax would be $6,000 for the first year the unit is vacant, and increase to $12,000 for any subsequent year the unit remains vacant.
These rates would be adjusted annually by the increase in the Consumer Price Index for the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area.
A residential unit would not be counted as vacant during any of the following periods that it is unoccupied, uninhabited or unused:
- The period during which a building permit application is pending with the City, for up to one year
- The two-year period after a building permit is issued for repair or rehabilitation of the unit
- The two-year period after a unit is made uninhabitable or unusable due to fire, natural disaster or other catastrophic event
- The period that the unit is the owner’s principal residence
- The period that the unit is leased for occupancy
- The period that a unit is vacant following the death of the owner who occupied the unit, for up to two years or until the end of probate, whichever is longer
- The period that a unit is vacant because the occupant is in a hospital or care facility
The following property owners would be exempt from this tax:
- 501(c)(3) organizations
- State or local governmental entities
- An individual or trust who owns a single property that has four or fewer residential units, who uses the property as their primary residence, and who owns no other residential units in the City. This exemption would not apply to real estate investment trusts, corporations, or limited liability companies. The measure would allow the City Council to suspend the tax by a two-thirds vote in the event of a declared emergency.
The measure would allow the City Council to amend the tax by a simple majority vote, provided the Council does not change the amount of the tax or expand any exemptions. State law also prevents City Council from narrowing any exemptions. Property owners would be subject to this tax beginning January 1, 2024 until December 31, 2034. The tax is estimated to generate $3,900,000 to $5,900,000 annually. The City Manager would provide City Council an annual report of revenues collected during the prior fiscal year. This is a general tax. The revenue from this tax would be deposited into the general fund and could be used for any municipal purpose.
Source: City Attorney's Impartial Analysis of Measure M