The city of San Francisco has quietly conceded that its strategy of boycotting red states did not have the desired effect of influencing state policy, instead adding more administrative and operational challenges for the already declining city.

The City Administrator’s Office (CAO) conducted a review of the 12X legislation, which was implemented in 2017 as a means of boycotting conservative states in an effort to make them adopt more progressive policies. The legislation barred city-funded travel and contracting with companies in red states, as well as other methods of commerce.

San Francisco’s blacklist currently includes 30 states that have been targeted for their LGBTQ laws, abortion restrictions, and voting laws. Initially, the boycott was limited to eight states based on their LGBTQ laws but was subsequently expanded to encompass states with other “unacceptable” policies.

“The CAO was not able to find concrete evidence suggesting 12X has influenced other states’ economies or LGBTQ, reproductive, or voting rights,” according to a CAO report published last week. “No states with restrictive LGBTQ rights, voting rights, or abortion policies have cited the City’s travel and contract bans as motivation for reforming their laws.”

The report also estimated less competition among contractors increased San Francisco’s contracting costs by an estimated 10-20%. “The policy impact of 12X is unclear,” it read. “Conversely, 12X is associated with high levels of administrative burden and likely imposes significant opportunity costs to the City.”

The CAO report put forward several options as alternatives to the current 12X legislation. These options included abolishing the law entirely, revoking the contractor boycott, providing exceptions for certain contracts, lessening the administrative challenges created by 12X, and establishing “off ramps” for businesses in red states that adopt San Francisco’s left-wing policies.

City Supervisors requested the CAO report in October 2022. The Board of Supervisors in San Francisco will review the report’s policy recommendations to decide whether to adopt any of the proposed alternatives.

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