I got a Rent Board Fee Annual Notice for the first time this year which says:
"The owner of each residential unit in San Francisco, as specified in Administrative Code Chapter 37A, shall pay annually to the City and County of San Francisco a Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board fee."
Which sounds like they really want you to pay. They go on to say that from the 2021-2022 tax year the Rent Board has to collect directly from the property owner rather than being bundled on the property tax bill.
This seems crazy. Not that I'm advocating kicking off another recall election but it must be a monumental waste of resources. Suddenly you're sending me letters and wasting my time as well as paying extra credit card / check processing fees all for $59 which is a pretty trivial fraction of my property tax.
It turns out that I don't even need to pay - owner occupied units are exempt. This made me wonder if I have been inadvertently subsidizing the Rent Board for years but as far as I can tell this has never been included with my property taxes. It certainly isn't broken out like other special fees (and San Francisco feels like it needs to let me know that 0.05% of my tax is going toward restoring the bay). You can opt out of the tax on a sumptuous new Rent Board portal, which can't have been cheap to build.
So what gives? I haven't seen any press on this. Please let me know if I missed something. My best guess is that whatever records were used to add the tax to the property bill were thought to be incomplete and so the Rent Board is trying to expand its tax base to all of the undeclared in-law units and casually rented rooms in the city. Less charitably they might be hoping that a lot of property owners pay the new bill without checking the details. Regardless, if we need a Rent Board can it not just be paid for out of city funds instead of wasting trees and time and money on an elaborate separate payment system?