Skip to code content (skip section selection)
(a) San Francisco strives to be a welcoming, inclusive place for all City residents. Consistent with this ethos of inclusivity, the City strives to empower all of its residents to participate in San Francisco’s economic life. A key aspect of participation in economic life in the City, as anywhere, is the ability as a consumer to purchase goods and services.
(b) For many City residents (for example, those who are denied access to credit, or who are unable to obtain bank accounts), the ability to engage in consumer transactions depends on the ability to pay for goods and many services in cash. This is especially true of the very poor.
(c) Millions of Americans do not hold bank accounts, or otherwise fall outside the non-cash financial system. Some stand apart by choice, because they are concerned about privacy and do not want their every financial transaction recorded by banks and credit card companies; physical cash remains the most accessible anonymous medium of exchange in this country. Others may not be well situated to participate in the formal banking system, or may be excluded from that system against their will. In short, denying the ability to use cash as a payment method means excluding too many people.
(d) According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in 2017, 17% of all African-American households and 14% of all Latino households in the U.S. had no bank account. These numbers may be much higher in San Francisco, where, according to a 2005 study commissioned by the City, as many as 50% of African-American and Latino households were estimated to be unbanked. In this reality, not accepting cash payment is tantamount to systematically excluding segments of the population that are largely low-income people of color. Cashless business models may also have significant detrimental impacts on young people who do not meet age requirements for credit cards, for the elderly (many of whom have not transitioned to credit and digital payment modes at the same rate as younger generations), and for other vulnerable groups (such as homeless and immigrant populations).
(e) The City must remain vigilant in ensuring its economy is inclusionary and accessible to everyone. The purpose of this Article 55 is to ensure that all City residents—including those who lack access to other forms of payment—are able to participate in the City’s economic life by paying cash for goods and many services.
(Added by Ord. 100-19, File No. 190164, App. 5/24/2019, Eff. 6/24/2019, Oper. 8/23/2019)