Take Action Toolkit - Regarding AB-5 (CA law on worker classification)

AB-5 went into law on January 1, 2020. While it intends to protect workers, there is much concern from many sectors of the economy and workforce about the possible negative impacts the law will have on businesses, nonprofits, and independent workers.

Assembly Member Gonzalez’s (author) is now reviewing and considering amending and clarifying the law, now called AB-1850. Continue reading to learn how to send your messages, opinions, and requests to lawmakers.

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State Law AB-5 - How Does It Impact Arts & Culture Nonprofits and Independent Contractors?

If You Are an Arts and Culture Organization that Retains Independent Contractors, or, You Are an Independent Contractor -- Make Sure You Are Informed About State Law AB-5 and How it can Affect You


AB-5 Will Go Into Effect on January 1, 2020, So There Is No Time to Waste!

AB-5 tightens up the rules used to determine whether a worker can be classified as an independent contractor. While the bill intends to advance worker rights, benefits, and protections (only available to employees), the law will have an impact on arts sector organizations and individuals. Use this page to access a variety of materials and opportunities to learn more!

Also, please take this short survey by Californians for the Arts and share so arts advocates can learn more about your interests and concerns to share with lawmakers!

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Ballot Resources (2016)

ABBA is committed to providing non-partisan, well informed, and timely information on policies that impact the arts and cultural ecosystem in the bay area. We've compiled a few resources to share.

ABBA's endorsement of Proposition S (SF)  - explanatory essay "Vote S to Stabilize Artists and Homeless Families" by Rebecca Bowe

SF Candidate Questionnaire by ABBA

Voter's Edge - online tool for CA voter's, see your ballot online and track your choices AND see your options to submit your ballot


Ballot.FYI Solid, non-partisan summary of CA ballot measures 

SF Department of Elections' online voter guide 

San Francisco Public Press - Breaking down the ballot by theme

Alameda County - List of Measures 

Ballotpedia - lists Dept of Elections info along with news coverage

Advocacy & Nonprofits - Info on NP engaging in advocacy vs. lobbying activities

Wondering how the local propositions relate to the arts? Look no further! Here's a list of SF and Oakland props made by Mona Webb and Alex Randall with one-sentence summaries of how they relate (when they do) and what they're about (if they don't, directly).


 - What It's About - 

Relevance To Arts / if no direct relevance, what it's about

San Francisco




School Bonds - 

Provide funding for new school of the arts and arts education center in Civic Center


City College Parcel Tax - 

Keep City College afloat, which services many local artists


Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing - 

Frees up more money for SF to invest in affordable housing developments


Vacancy Appointments - 

Prevents appointed temporary officials from making use of "incumbancy" in an election


Street Trees - 

Will keep SF public trees healthier


Youth Voting - 

Empowers youth artists 16+ to have an official voice in city governing


Police Oversight - 

Creates greater oversight/accountability for police department


Public Advocate - 

Establishes new position within SF government to investigate citizens' issues


Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities - 

Makes more funding available to services for senior and disabled artists


Funding for Homelessness and Transportation - 

Creates steady funding for homelessness as well as improvements to public transportation


General Sales Tax - 

Will provide tax revenue needed for funding homelessness and transportation services


MTA Appointments and Budget - 

Transfers some oversight of MTA board and budget from mayor to supervisors


Housing and Development Commission - 

Would add an extra layer of oversight to housing projects in SF


Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections - 

Empowers non-citizen parents to have a say in school board elections


Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point - 

Hastens development in Candlestick Point that would likely cause more SF housing troubles


Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property - 

Requires multiple bids on affordable housing projects


Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks - 

Attempts to address homelessness in a very 


Neighborhood Crime Unit - 

Adds police presence to neighborhoods without addressing justice issues


Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds - 

Establishes steady and significant funding for the arts


Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists - 

Tightens restrictions on political lobbying


Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects  -

Raises maximum income to qualify for affordable housing


Tax on Distributing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages - 

Will (hopefully) promote better dietary habits for all


Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million - 

Brings more money in from real estate deals to fund city services


Preserving Space for Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses and Community Services in Certain Neighborhoods - 

Helps ensure that art space displacement is followed by art space replacement


BART Safety, Reliability, and Traffic Relief - 

Increases funding for BART repairs








Alameda County Affordable Housing Bond - 

Will provide affordable housing to vulnerable groups like seniors,veterans, low-income families, and people with disabilities.


Teacher Retention and Middle School Improvement Act - 

Attracting and retaining teachers and increasing access to courses in arts, music, and world languages in grades 6, 7, and 8.


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Distribution Tax Ordinance - 

A tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, sports drinks, sweetened teas, and energy drinks.This money would go into the city’s general fund.


City-Owned Real Property Maximum Lease - 

The City Council could lease City-owned land for up to 99 years. Measure II should help increase construction of affordable housing.


Just Cause for Eviction and Rent Adjustment - 

Extend “just cause” eviction protections to housing built before December 31, 1995, require landlords to petition the City’s Rent Board before they raise rents above the standard cost of living.



Oakland Police Commission - 

LL would replace the Citizens’ Police Review Board with an Oakland Police Commission. 


AC Transit Parcel Tax Extension - 

C1 would extend the $96 parcel tax until 2039.AC Transit needs this funding to continue providing reduced fares and transportation options for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities.


BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief - 

RR would allow BART to sell up to $3.5 billion in bonds. By selling bonds, BART would get up to $3.5 billion to spend on 

improving its system.




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Vote S to Stabilize Artists and Homeless Families

By Rebecca Bowe


Mayor Ed Lee recently approved a whopping $9.6 billion city budget, reflecting tremendous economic growth in recent years — as one newspaper pointed out, that’s more cash flow than the entire state of Iowa has to work with. But it would come as a shock to no one that the benefits of abundant wealth floating through San Francisco aren’t equally distributed.

Among others, artists and homeless families are two groups acutely impacted by the pressures of San Francisco’s sky-high cost of living. To balance the scales for them, an unlikely coalition of advocates has come together to carve out a life raft of funding assistance. Their measure on the November ballot promises to offer help to families facing housing loss and artists who find themselves in precarious situations, and it won’t require a heavier lift from taxpayers. To achieve this, the measure would allocate funds from the city’s hotel tax.

San Franciscans will have a chance to bring greater stability to homeless families and artists by voting in favor of Prop. S, the Arts and Families Initiative, on the November ballot.

Don’t miss your chance to vote

Arts and culture are at the heart of what makes San Francisco unique, but economic pressures have propelled a rash of evictions and displacement. When the San Francisco Arts Commission surveyed 600 local artists last year to assess their level of stability, results showed that 70 percent either had been or were about to be displaced from their homes, workplaces, or both.

For homeless families, constant instability can be a dangerous day-to-day struggle. One in 25 public school students is now homeless in San Francisco, says Coalition on Homelessness Director Jenny Friedenbach. She estimates there are twice as many homeless kids today as there were five years ago. Typically, “our kids are homeless for at least a year,” Friedenbach explains. “But the damage is permanent.”

One in 25 San Francisco public school students is homeless, according to the Coalition on Homelessness


A unique alliance of arts and homeless advocacy organizations came together to hatch a solution: Take some of the funding from the city’s long-established hotel tax, and use it to tackle family homelessness and boost funding for the arts.

The unprecedented coalition has brought together small and large arts organizations across the city, as well as a number of homeless advocacy groups. Among them are groups as disparate as the San Francisco Ballet, SOMArts Cultural Center, SRO Families United Collaborative, the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, the Homeless Prenatal Program, the Exploratorium and Z Space. It also has a range of endorsements from across the political spectrum: Supervisors Jane Kim and Scott Wiener, rivals in the race for California Senate, both support it, as do Sups. Eric Mar, Norman Yee and David Campos. The San Francisco Tenants Union is on board, as is San Francisco’s largest city employees’ union, SEIU 1021. There’s no formal opponent listed on the ballot. 


“There’s been a real focus on equity, in many different forms,” says Adam Fong, a composer and cofounder of the Center for New Music, who has helped the effort along. If the Arts and Families Initiative fails to pass, the existence of cultural institutions that help make San Francisco what it is could be jeopardized and families seeking permanent housing would be at higher risk of experiencing homelessness. Extreme circumstances brought these advocates together, but support is still urgently needed. The threshold for approval is a two-thirds majority of San Francisco voters. 

Hotel tax revenue is growing

Directing hotel tax revenue toward these twin purposes is a smart move, because the funding generated by this tax is on an upward trend. In the next four years alone, it’s projected to increase by about $90 million, and this measure would only allocate about 38 percent of that expected revenue increase.

Tourism is one of several powerhouses relied upon to replenish city coffers. In 2015, according to San Francisco Travel, 24.6 million people visited San Francisco. That same year, 44 conventions were booked at the Moscone Convention Center, which, according to SF Travel, ensures more than 1.5 million overnight hotel stays stretching all the way into the year 2032. As of April, there were also proposals to build a dozen new hotels in San Francisco.

In 2015, 44 conventions were booked at the Moscone Convention Center


Visitors arrive from every corner of the globe, but almost every San Francisco hotel guest has something in common: Their bill comes with a little extra fee tacked onto the end, known as the hotel tax.

The tax was set up in 1961 with the intention of supporting arts and culture organizations in San Francisco through grants and other forms of assistance. The concept set off a trend. Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles followed suit soon after with similar taxes aimed at shoring up the arts, so that they could boast cultural draws that would attract even more visitors. In the decade after it was established, funds from the San Francisco hotel tax were also directed toward low-income housing programs.

092113_WelcomeDeborah_byTommyLau_008.jpgBut even though the tax was meant to give artists and low-income residents a leg up in a pricey city, San Francisco didn’t stay true to that intention over the years. Hotel tax funding for these special purposes started to erode in the early 2000s, when the city fell on lean times. In 2013, specific allocations were repealed altogether, and the hotel tax revenue was absorbed into the city’s general fund to pay for various city services.

The dedicated funding was never fully restored, even after the economic picture improved. All told, artists and arts organizations have lost more than $200 million in funding over the past 14 years, while low-income housing programs lost $90 million.

And in the arts world, as funding support waned, it got harder to make it work in San Francisco. Just ask Nomy Lamm.

 An endless housing hunt

“I’m a voice teacher -- my primary medium is singing,” Lamm explains, but this only scratches the surface. “I’ve been in a bunch of bands, and I play accordion. I do performance arts stuff -- dressed as a bird, dressed as a mermaid.” At various points Lamm has also been a novelist, an illustrator, a documentary filmmaker, and an activist. She’s participated in arts symposiums and used her work to plug in on issues affecting people with disabilities, the queer community, communities of color impacted by police violence, and other social-justice causes.

A film she made recently screened at Artists’ Television Access on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District. And at an October ODC show with the Sins Invalid performance project, which incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, she plans to treat the audience to a mix of voice and live sound loops while donning a dress “the size of the stage.” There’s just one problem — Lamm no longer lives in the city where she makes art, even though it’s a place that’s fed her creativity since she moved here almost nine years ago. 


After being caught in an unworkable housing situation last year, she and her partner Lisa, also an artist, embarked on a housing hunt. But in the end, the search was in vain — they were even turned down as tenants when they applied to live in a unit two hours north of San Francisco. Making matters worse, across her community of artists and musicians, “Everyone we knew was getting evicted.”

Lamm and her partner relocated to Olympia, Washington, where she grew up, this past January. She’s made the trek back and forth to San Francisco time and again to continue to be a part of the arts scene, but the distance has reshaped her reality and altered her career for good. The Arts and Families Initiative might offer new hope for artists who are determined to stay put despite the challenges.

How the allocation will work

If it passes, the new hotel tax allocation will provide more operating support grants for the arts. It will triple funding for arts agencies that make grants to historically underserved communities and nonprofits that provide affordable facilities for artists and arts organizations. And it will make it easier for arts organizations to access emergency rent support if they need it.

It will also create the Ending Family Homelessness Fund -- a much-needed source of emergency funding that could be tapped to stabilize current housing for families at risk of displacement, or to provide help for homeless families looking for housing.


All told, 17 percent of the hotel tax would be dedicated toward new arts funding by 2020, while 3.6 percent would go toward homeless family services. It’s important to note that homelessness and family services receive more funding in other parts of the city budget, which aren’t covered by this tax allocation.

While the city controller has noted that the proposal would make it slightly more expensive to fund a variety of city government services, this prediction doesn’t tell the whole story. Budget projections are necessarily based on conservative estimates — but recent history indicates that revenues from the hotel tax are increasing, not remaining stagnant. So the estimated impact could be less than what’s currently anticipated.

Even though it’s widely supported, it will still be an uphill battle to win voter approval for Prop. S, since it requires a two-thirds majority approval. Help get the word out that artists and homeless families need Prop. S to pass. And don’t forget to vote. 

Rebecca Bowe is a San Francisco resident who has great appreciation for the arts and is concerned about youth and families who are struggling with homelessness.

Photo Credit, From Top to Bottom: ABBA Open Meeting 2015, by Ernesto Sopprani; Kronos Quartet Open Rehearsal with Wu Man, Center for New Music; YBCA Welcome Deborah 2013, by Tommy Lau; Nomy Lamm, "Bird Song" ©Richard Downing, Courtesy of Sins Invalid, 2011; Eki Shola at New Music Open Mic, Center for New Music, by Meerenai Shim

Want to know more about Prop S? Take a look at the resources ABBA has compiled


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Prop S: Allocation of Hotel Tax Fund - "The Arts & End Family Homelessness" Initiative | San Francisco 2016 Election

UPDATE: September 14, 2016

Sample Messaging - Prop S & Arts + Families Town Hall  (PDF) 

UPDATE: August 29,2016

Vote S to Stabilize Artists and Homeless Families

Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds Summary

Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds Full legal Text

(KQED) SF Arts and Homeless Organizations Join Forces to Secure More City Funding May 27, 2016

Advocacy & NonProfits 101

Get Started with Voter Engagement


Sample Messaging

EVENT/PROJECT: Arts + Families Town Hall, September 2016


AUDIENCE: To Coalition Members



[Subject] JOIN ME: Let’s Build the Arts + Families Town Hall Audience

Dear staff,

I invite you to join me in attending the Arts + Families Town Hall, taking place on Tuesday, September 27th at YBCA Theater from 6pm to 8pm.

This event is being produced by a coalition of organizations in support of Proposition S, of which we are one. It will be an opportunity for us to gather, educate, and organize ourselves around Proposition S as well as the other propositions on the SF ballot this year that will impact our work. We will hear from proponents of many of the measures, and there will be opportunities to learn about how we, as individuals and as an organization, can support them.

 As you may have heard from me already, this is a historic year for us in San Francisco; among the many (25!) measures on the ballot are many that could make a very real difference to our organization, so it's more important than ever that we learn about them. The event is free and open to the public, so I encourage you to share this with others you know who are passionate about our work and this city.

RSVP: http://bit.ly/RSVPArtsTownHall

More about Prop S: http://bit.ly/PropS2016






Join us for the ARTS + FAMILIES TOWN HALL on Tuesday September 27th to learn how to have your November vote COUNT. This will be an evening of gathering, educating, and organizing ourselves around Proposition S and other local ballot measures that will impact the arts and family homelessness communities. Hope to see you there! RSVP: http://bit.ly/RSVPArtsTownHall


#ArtsandFamsTownhall  - YBCA Theater - 9/27 - 6pm-8pm. Join us there to learn how to make your vote COUNT.  http://bit.ly/RSVPArtsTownHall 

#YesOnS #ArtsandFamsTownhall


AUDIENCE: For artist-serving organizations (messages targeted toward artists)



Facebook / Email:

Calling all San Francisco #artists! Amplify your voice at the annual Arts Town Hall — an opportunity to speak directly with district supervisor candidates about the issues that matter most to you. Let’s keep support for the #arts on the agenda in this year’s elections. Join us this Monday, September 12 at @YBCA. http://bit.ly/RSVPArtsTownHall


Calling all #artists! Amplify your voices at the Arts Town Hall at @ybca this Tue. 9/27  #artisapublicgood  http://bit.ly/RSVPArtsTownHall

The Arts Town Hall is an opportunity for district supervisor candidates to hear from #SF #artists. Join us at @ybca Tue. 9/27  http://bit.ly/RSVPArtsTownHall


AUDIENCE: For art and cultural organizations (messages targeted toward the general public/arts supporters)



Facebook or Email Blast:

Show your support for the #arts by participating in the Arts Town Hall this Monday, September 22 at @YBCA! Hear directly from district supervisor candidates about their plans to preserve the vital role of the #arts in making this city so unique. Bring a friend and your questions! http://bit.ly/RSVPArtsTownHall


Show your support for the #arts by joining the Arts Town Hall this Mon, Sept 22! Bring your questions for supervisor candidates. http://bit.ly/RSVPArtsTownHall




Town Hall

  • Arts + Families Town Hall will take place on Tuesday, September 27that YBCA Theater at 6pm.

  • For you, members of our community, it will be an opportunity to learn how to make your vote count this November.

  • You'll hear from proponents of various measures, especially Proposition S, the arts + family homelessness funding ordinance, which we support.

  • Join me there to learn, join me there to gather with our broader community, and join me there for the future of this city.

Prop S

  • Restore the initial purpose of the Hotel Tax Fund, created in 1960s

    • To support SF’s vulnerable populations - artist & homeless families

  • Would allocate a percentage of the Hotel Tax Fund to go to:

    • 17% to the arts by 2020 (SF Arts Commission, Neighborhood Arts Program, Cultural Equity Endowment, and Grants for the Arts)

    • 3.6% will establish new Ending Family Homelessness Fund

  • Requires a 2/3rds majority vote


Questions / Comments about Prop S or the Arts + Families Town Hall: info(at)betterbayarea(dot)org



Screen_Shot_2016-06-16_at_12.52.00_PM.pngFor the first time in decades the people of San Francisco have the opportunity to collectively advocate for the public value of the arts through the ballot. This month the possible measures for the November Ballot have been announced, among them is the "Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds," informally known as the Arts and Families Initiative.

ABBA is gauging membership support and understanding of this measure as it is critically connected to the a vibrant bay area creative ecosystem. Even if you do not vote in SF, because of the interconnectedness of the Bay Area, we encourage you to still participate.

Help us reach our goal of 200 Bay Area arts practitioners participating in the survey by July 1st, 2016


Member Survey: To better understand our membership and knowledge gaps or strengths we are releasing this membership Survey. By completing the Survey you are signing up to ABBA's Community membership level and will be followed up with to complete the membership process. Details on ABBA membership 

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2016-17 Arts Budget Priorities

2016-17 ARTS BUDGET PRIORITIES: Cultural Vitality & Fair Inclusion Investments #CulturalEquity #SharedProsperity

As part of San Francisco Arts Advocacy Day ABBA shared with the Mayor's Office and all 11 Supervisors the Priority Investments that were not sufficiently supported in 2015's Shared Prosperity Investment.

 2016-17 ARTS BUDGET PRIORITIES: Cultural Vitality & Fair Inclusion Investments #CulturalEquity #SharedProsperity

Screen_Shot_2016-06-03_at_1.54.45_PM.png Screen_Shot_2016-06-03_at_1.54.52_PM.png

2016-17 Priorities based on 2015 Investment and Implementation

Details about the process in our SF Arts Advocacy Day post




Email Katherin (at) betterbayarea (dot) org and you'll be connected to the Arts Budget Committee 

Graphic by: Ernesto Sopprani, June 2016 

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On Tuesday, May 31st San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced the proposed budget for 2016-17 and 2017-18


Mayor's 2016-2017 & 2017-2018 Proposed Budget

Budget Highlights 

The San Francisco Arts Commission’s budget summary (beginning on p.104) highlights capital investments including significant projects at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and Civic Art Collection repair and restoration work including investments in Ruth Asawa’s “Origami Fountains” in Japan Town and the Mother’s Building murals “Noah and His Ark” located at the zoo.

Three new full-time positions are highlighted in the budget, including a data analyst to manage the department’s performance measures, program evaluation, research and reporting, a position to oversee the department’s capital projects and physical assets including the cultural centers and civic art collection, and a third position to support the “greatly expanded” SFAC Main Gallery in the War Memorial Veterans Building.

The 2016-17 budget includes an increase of $350,510 to Grants for the Arts which will remain level in 2017-18. According to the budget summary, in 2015-16 GFTA awarded $9.5 million in grants to 213 community arts organizations and funded 22 annual celebrations and parades.

What’s Next

Traditionally, the Mayor’s proposed budget is reviewed by the Board of Supervisors in public hearings. According to the budget schedule posted on the Board of Supervisors website, the first hearing for the Arts Commission will be held Friday, June 17th and the second hearing will be Thursday, June 23. Grants for the Arts is included in the budget for the City Administrator on Thursday, June 16th and Wednesday, June 22nd. All meetings begin at 10am and are held at City Hall, located at 1 Dr Carlton B. Goodlett Place.


More like this:

Mayor Lee Announces $6 Million Investment to Support San Francisco Nonprofit Organizations


Photo by: Ernesto Sopprani, April 2016 ABBA Open Meeting at SOMArts Cultural Center

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San Francisco Announces Proposed $13.4m in Arts & Culture Capital Investments


On May 25th San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced a proposed $411.3m 2-year capital budget, including $13.4m (3.26%) for arts and culture facilities.

According to the press release, the arts and culture investments are for “state of good repair and life safety needs at city-owned buildings” such as cultural centers and museums.

The Mayor’s proposed budget, released on May 31, states that capital projects will include a retrofit of elevators at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts as well as adding cooling systems to the HVAC affecting the theater and gallery spaces.

Capital recommendations are guided by San Francisco’s Ten-Year Capital Plan, which is annually reviewed by the Capital Planning Committee. For more information, go to: onesanfrancisco.org.

 Graphic by: Ernesto Sopprani, June 2016 

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Central SoMa Plan Public Benefits Survey SUMMARY


The goal of this survey was for the SF Planning Commission to hear from the public what types of benefits want to be incorporated into the Central SoMa Plan, with the goal that the plan is approved in late 2016 or early 2017, planning began in 2011. 

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PDR 101 (Production, Repair, Distribution)


What is PDR? PDR stands for Production, Distribution and Repair and refers to types of uses defined by San Francisco for zoning purposes. Arts and entertainment spaces that share operational characteristics with PDR spaces are sometimes included in PDR districts as they require large flexible spaces and may benefit from separation from intensive housing districts.

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