Lee, supes hope to keep Twitter headquarters in SF

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February 8, 2011 7:15:47 PM PST
San Francisco's mayor and two supervisors emerged from behind closed doors on Tuesday and announced what they hope will be a deal to keep Twitter from leaving the city and entice new businesses to move in.

The social media company has outgrown its current location on Folsom Street. Twitter had 22 employees in January 2009 and has 350 today. The company has talked about leaving San Francisco for larger and possibly cheaper space.

San Francisco officials are now hoping to offer tax breaks to Twitter and any other company that relocates to the seedy side of Market Street. The area between 5th and 10th streets is in desperate need of revitalization and legislation proposed by Mayor Ed Lee, and Supervisors David Chiu and Jane Kim would exempt the companies who locate in that area from paying the payroll tax on any new employees hired for six years.

"I would be very disappointed if I didn't have the facts in front of me, but I'm fully confident," Lee said.

"What we're doing is saying there's going to be an opportunity if they grow jobs that don't exist, for those new jobs not to lead to a payroll tax," Chui said.

Gabriel Metcalfe is the director of SPUR, a public policy think tank that focuses on urban issues. He says as long as the deal isn't just for Twitter, he thinks it's a great idea.

"If it's the whole area, if it's geographically targeted for a place that needs the help, if it's for new jobs, it's a great idea," he said.

Supervisor John Avalos isn't so sure and worried the proposed tax break will set a bad precedent with other corporations threatening to leave town unless they get exemptions.

"We have an economic downturn. Do we have to give away all the stores so that we attract corporations to be here," he said.

Twitter had no comments other than an official saying, "We prefer conversations behind closed door and not in public."

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