Carmen Chu, SF City Assessor

Delivering Resources and Raising the Bar on Accountability

In my first term as your Assessor, I have focused on transforming how we do our work to deliver real results. With my team, we exceeded revenue expectations by over half a billion dollars to fund some of our most pressing public challenges like affordable housing, crime, street maintenance, and services for families and seniors.

We authored legislation that closes loopholes and protects our ability to hold the largest corporations accountable for paying their fair share – so far, close to $40 million in underreported transfer taxes have been identified! And we’re reversing a decades old backlog of assessment cases and resolving appeals quicker.

  • Generated over half a billion dollars in revenues above expectations, preventing service reductions and enabling investments in public services

  • Adopted smarter practices to track performance and tools to value properties including using real time MLS data and  developing regression models and standard databases
  • Focus on new construction assessments added roughly $11.5 billion in additional value last year alone compared to $400 million in FY2013
  • On track to eliminate, for the first time in over twenty years, a persistent backlog in assessments cases, a significant reversal of San Francisco’s delayed assessment history

  • Helped residents resolve issues faster by working with the Assessment Appeals Board to  implement streamlined hearing officer process for residential units and pre-hearing conferences for commercial appeals. As a result, outstanding appeals have been cut down to 991 open cases compared to over 7,421 at the end of FY2013

  • Established a model recruitment and training program to identify and prepare pipeline of qualified appraisers

  • Launched new transfer tax audit program that successfully identified almost $40 million in underreported corporate transfer tax

  • Passed legislation to close loophole on transfer tax collections for continuing legal entities and to protect San Francisco’s ability to collect transfer taxes owed even as buildings turn over

  • First to publish and make publicly accessible open data on San Francisco’s property assessment roll

Modernizing the Office by Tackling the Technology Gap

Technology is changing by leaps and bounds and the tools we use to do our work and to communicate needs a significant overhaul.

Over the last five years we have prioritized driving this change and the results are clear. Already, we have launched online filing and recording services and redesigned our website to provide better customer service and convenience.

Over 2.6 million paper images of our most vital real estate and transaction records have been transitioned to searchable digital records and we have secured that data and our systems for disaster recovery.  

Looking forward, I am excited to lead our City’s effort to safeguard our financial system through the replacement of our mission critical property tax system.

  • Leading joint effort with City Controller and Treasurer Tax-Collector to replace and secure City’s outdated financial system. The project is a top City priority with $3 billion in revenues dependent on its functions.

  • Developed consolidated searchable database for vital real estate records and transitioned over 2.6 million paper images to digital files.

  • San Francisco’s historical real estate data and decouments secured for disaster preparedness and recovery.

  • Online submission for public recorded documents implemented with guaranteed same-day processing – now close to 70% of all recordings come through the online portal.

  • Automated online business filings.

  • Funded mapping and data project to open access to non-confidential property information. Already we lead the way by making publicly accessible a decade’s worth of open data on San Francisco’s property assessment roll.

  • Enacted data-sharing protocols and agreements with Treasurer-Tax Collector and Building Inspection to eliminate duplicative reporting and filing requirements for taxpayers.

SF Assessor Carmen Chu - Modernizing the Office
SF Assessor Carmen Chu - Serving Our Communities

Serving Our Communities

Despite the lowest unemployment rate in San Francisco’s history, many working families in San Francisco are struggling. Just as my parents showed me, many of our communities are being left behind when they do not know where to turn for help to get back on track.

That is why, working with community partners, we are linking San Franciscans across the City directly to practical resources that can help them stay and be successful.  With our non-profit partners, we are notifying residents in danger of foreclosure of their rights and resources.

Across the City, I have initiated forums to connect families to free, multilingual, one-on-one counseling from pro-bono attorneys, affordable housing providers, financial planners, tax professionals, and estate planners – so far over 800 families have been helped through this effort alone!

  • Our resource forums across the city won top honors in community engagement at the 2018 CAPIO Awards. Close to 800 families, predominantly multilingual families were connected to free one-on-one counseling from finance professionals, tax experts, estate planners, educational financial aid programs and non-profit affordable housing programs.

  • Streamlined mapping process in partnership with Public Works to reduce impediments to subdivisions and building housing, including much needed affordable housing.

  • Focused coordination on public-private partnerships to ensure smooth subdivision and assessment practices – this helps large housing development projects access financing faster and move forward quicker.

  • Working proactively with affordable housing providers, community land trusts, and other non-profits to provide tax exemptions for charitable public services.

  • Work with community partners to identify and connect individuals in danger of foreclosure with foreclosure-prevention assistance.

  • Partnership with DataSF to enable modeling and identification of eviction practices in the City.

  • Co-authored legislation extend spousal tax benefits to LBGT domestic partners who didn’t have the chance to marry.

Diversity as Strength

As a daughter of immigrants and as a San Franciscan, I value a City that is diverse and inclusive. Neighborhood to neighborhood, people from different walks of life come together to color and shape our experiences.  But simply valuing diversity is not enough – we also need to nurture it. That is why I believe we must model the way by ensuring our public services are open and accessible. That is also why I believe we each have a responsibility to foster opportunities for our youth, especially our young women, to pursue success.

  • Launched the W Challenge, a grassroots, person-to-person effort to register and encourage women to vote – California is currently ranked the third worst state when it comes to women’s voter registration rate. Visit for more to get involved.
  • Implemented office-wide protocols to assist monolingual taxpayers, completed translation of frequently used local taxpayer forms, invested in on-demand translation services for taxpayers in need of language assistance, and revamped the office’s public website to include easy to find translated resources

  • First City office to initiate and complete mandatory implicit bias training for entire staff

  • Developed award-winning taxpayer rights factsheets which were recognized by CAPIO for communications excellence in 2018; these factsheets have all been translated to Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese and Korean

  • Actively support youth internships in the office and mentorship of young people interested in public service; hosted students from organizations like Ignite – an organization mentoring young women who are interested in becoming the next generation of public leaders, San Francisco Unified School District Immigrant Student Program, and APAPA

  • Co-sponsored legislation to ensure locally registered domestic same-sex partners who did not have the option to marry are able to benefit from the same property tax savings available to married couples

  • Made the decision to be the only county recorder’s office to remain open through the first weekend when same-sex marriages were able to resume in California; the decision ensured that couples could marry without further delay – thousands of people traveled from across the country to San Francisco that weekend alone with close to 500 couples able to marry and make their marriages part of the public record immediately

Carmen Chu, SF City Assessor