South San Francisco, CA October 6, 2022 by Natalie Wheatfall-Lum
The state of childcare in South San Francisco has always been largely inaccessible and unaffordable. The city’s preschool program is immensely popular but underfunded, having a waitlist of over 700 families long which is around a 4 year wait. And the cost of private preschool has risen to over $1800 per month per child. In addition to this, there is a shortage of childcare workers as they are not paid a living wage. Currently, they make an average of $17/hr.
To solve this issue, Measure DD was drafted through a coalition of local childcare experts, education leaders, representatives from the South City mothers’ club, and childcare teachers. This coalition met over a period of an entire year to draft a plan that worked for everyone and would leave no community behind. Unfortunately, the No on DD campaign, led by large multi billion dollar corporations, are waging an extremely negative and dishonest campaign against the hard work of our community.
Here are the facts:
South San Francisco drafted a comprehensive childcare master plan, but it does not include a method of funding nor a timeline of implementation. Measure DD provides the funding that will allow the city to properly implement the recommendations of the childcare master plan.
Measure DD was placed on the ballot through the community. It is a citizen’s initiative, meaning the campaign gathered nearly 6,000 signatures of South City residents to qualify the measure for the ballot. In fact, this is the first citizen’s initiative in the history of the city, and all signatures were gathered through volunteer efforts.
Measure DD will ensure high quality, safe care for all our children. All childcare providers in the state of California MUST follow the state health and safety code. This is not an option. “License exempt” care does not mean unlicensed. “License exempt” care applies to relatives caring for relatives, parent coops, and government agency run care. The SSF Childcare Master Plan states: “A healthy child care ecosystem includes a blend of center-based programs, family child care homes, exempt care options and places parent choice, quality programming and well-supported providers at the center.” The No on DD’s attack on “license exempt” care shows that they lack an understanding of childcare policy.
Measure DD has multiple layers of public oversight. Written explicitly in the measure is the creation of a public oversight commission composed of South City community members who will provide oversight over the use of funds and ensure high quality care. Quarterly audits are also required for Measure DD.
Measure DD will raise childcare teacher wages to a living wage. Currently, the entry level wage for a childcare worker is $16/hr, meaning many see this as a temporary job and not a profession. This measure will raise that to approximately $36/hr. For comparison, kindergarten teachers earn $43.37/hr. When our teachers are paid a living wage that allows them to live in the areas they serve and stay in the profession, the quality of our childcare will increase as well.
The opposition says that this is a huge tax, but also that there isn’t enough of it! Both arguments are incorrect. This tax is nothing new, it is a $2.5 per square foot per year parcel tax only imposed on commercial office properties above 25,000 square feet. The same tax passed in East Palo Alto in 2018 (Measure HH) with nearly 80% of voters voting YES. East Palo Alto’s businesses are doing fine and developers are still building commercial offices in the city. The South San Francisco study has stated that this will be enough to fund preschool for all after all buildings are completed in the pipeline. In fact, there will be a $300,000 surplus as reported by the city. And in any case in which there is a shortage of funds, the measure ensures that South San Francisco residents and low-income families are prioritized.
The tax does NOT affect small businesses or homeowners, it only applies to commercial office properties over 25,000 square feet—the largest corporations in South City so they pay their fair share. This means that restaurants, supermarkets, auto shops, warehouses, and so on will not be affected. If there is a case of a mixed use property (lets say a property with both housing and biotech), the city manager has the authority to set an appropriate and fair tax rate.
The NO on DD campaign is being funded by large corporations and their lobbyists. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, $50,000 of which is from Genentech, have been thrown towards sending our residents dishonest and misleading mailers and social media ads about Measure DD. The opponents of DD also hired a Republican law firm this summer to try to keep the measure off the ballot—but they failed. This is nothing new. Genentech has spent the last 30 years in litigation with San Mateo County, trying to avoid paying $190 million in property taxes. The County attorneys have said Genentech’s actions are “often without merit and have created a backlog for county officials.”
Measure DD is endorsed by experts in the field of early care and education—the San Mateo County Child Care Coordinating Council (4Cs), South San Francisco childcare workers with UDW Child Care Providers United and AFSCME 829, a majority of the San Mateo County Board of Education, South San Francisco School Board President and Vice President John Baker and Mina Richardson, and South City Mothers’ Club President Nadia Bick.
Measure DD is also supported by many members and organizations in the community including: The San Mateo County Democratic Party, Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte, the SMC NAACP, SSF City Councilmember James Coleman, San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, County Community College Trustee Maurice Goodman, the SMC Latinx Democratic Club, and the Peninsula Young Democrats.
Please join our community, and vote YES on Measure DD.
I find it SUPER hypocritical of us as a city to pride ourselves on our biotech roots. Continue to market real estate to this exact industry then turn around and hit them with the biggest tax FOR PRESCHOOL. Why do we agree to something like this for preschool? WHY not for our k-12 teachers and schools? Let’s double those salaries, not have preschool teachers making dollars less than our credentialed teachers who went to school and made this a committed career? I’m not against taxing.. I’m just saying lets put it toward something better then dang preschool (and i have two preschool kids….)
Genentech, as mentioned, is a huge donor of the No campaign, and they offer childcare to their employees! Just look at their careers page.
Why then, would Genentech be funding the No campaign? They would lose their competitive advantage. Their employees may leave for competing biotech firms in SSF, which would then result in Genentech being forced to pay their employees more to stay. This would also require them to pay more for new talent.
I can assure you no matter how “free” preschool is in SSF, the employees will not pull their kids from the childcare they offer. Bright Horizons is one of the best, having it on-site is worth more than any “free” preschool.
The comments I want to make might be directed to Ms Wheatfall-Lum because of what she wrote but are not personal to her but to the issue.
California requires our children ages 6 to 16 attend school so it is required our tax money should go to pay for that. However, that money should attach to the child and not the school. That should be up to the parents to make those decisions where to send their child for education.
Childcare, aka pre-school, is not mandatory therefor it should not be a burden on tax payers, including corporate tax payers.
Having children is an expense that is voluntarily taken on and has serious responsibilities attached that a responsible adult would address prior to bringing a child into the world. Why should other people pay for your child’s expenses? Having a child was your choice and living here is your choice.
Today in our area it is hard to have a unplanned preganancy with the services of PP and other groups to help with birthcontrol and abortion. If a child is born it would seem to be planned, wanted, and expenses would be accepted. Yes, the unexpected can happen and there are nonprofits to help.
if a parent cannot take care of the expenses associated with having children then they should not have them or they should move someplace that is more affordable for their family. Your child should not be a financial burden to others. Not even corporations.
Too many people today think other people should pay for their way for them and that entitlement attitude is not accepted by everyone.
Do you have a cell phone? Cable/wifi? Eat out? Hair and nails done? Those are expenses that are costly that many do without in order to pay for their children.
I agree the big companies have too many loopholes and they are working hard to defeat this tax measure.
But your child is your child, your responsibility, your expense, your choice.
Don’t care who she is, don’t want our businesses incurring even more taxes and fees. This measure it a bit to lossy goosey for me! Many of our larger businesses already have childcare facilities for their employees. Quit penalizing our larger property owners!
I like the idea of free childcare for SSF residents. But this measure includes those who work in SSF but do not live here. When the petitioners came to my house to put this measure on the ballot, my husband signed the petition without knowing what it encompassed. So the signatures may not reflect those who truly support this measure.
The businesses taxed will also benefit, so it is going to help the entire local economy here in the city. Plus, it’s written in the measure that if there is not enough money to cover everyone, SSF residents will be prioritized. I don’t think we have to worry. Think of all the business our local childcare providers will have!
Sorry the comment did not post the(+ )meant to agree with the commenter
The power of the people — finally. I am voting yes to put our residents finally ahead of the corporations that rule the roost in South City. It’s time to start considering the wants and needs of the residents, and not worry that billion dollar corporations are finally going to have to show respect for the residents whose city they have invaded.
Why not rewrite this and put it towards k-12 where it will really benefit a VAST majority of residents and teachers who really are teachers?
Ms. Wheatfall-Lum, might I inquire whether you are a resident of SSF or an outside advocate for this free childcare as this will benefit more than just SSF residents in need of childcare?
Many of those advocates, living outside SSF, made their presence known while commenting at city council meetings. Not a surprise, what’s not to like about free childcare?
Also, might I ask whether you are a SSF homeowner? Two consultant advocates who spoke at a city council meeting both indicated the program would have an initial, potentially growing, $10,000,000 plus annual funding shortfall. Ultimately, this shortfall likely will be borne by SSF resident taxpayers when the business tax proves insufficient. Those of us who might be responsible for providing this additional funding would like to think that everyone has some “skin in the game.”
As an affected resident, I feel these inquiries to be reasonable. I, as well as other home owning residents, look forward to your response. Thank you.
Ms. Wheatfall-Lum is a resident of South San Francisco- she is a signer on the Primary Argument in Favor of Measure DD. Look it up on the county website, if you want- she is listed as a resident and parent, and has a SSF address. https://www.smcacre.org/elections/november-8-2022-statewide-general-election
No, homeowners are not taxed by Measure DD, and can’t be. It’s a commercial office parcel tax, and only on parcels over 25,000 sq. ft. If the tax revenue is insufficient to cover all eligible children in the first year, children of SSF residents and low-income families are prioritized. There’s no “extra” tax randomly imposed on homeowners in that scenario. That would be very illegal.
As you have chosen to represent Ms. Wheatfall-Lum by proxy, could you tell me where the $10,000,000 annual shortfall for the program will come from? Both consultants advocating for this measure disclosed this fact while speaking at the council meeting. Were they ill-informed?
Mr. Corey I think your comments have merit on many areas on different subjects but you need to realize that taxes do not only affect you as a homeowner. My landlord passes on all the extra costs to me and others in my complex including the last school tax we are still paying for. Us renters also have kids and have to pay these extra taxes too.
I do not agree with more taxes.