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tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

July 25, 2010


There’s a small business group that sends out emails to small business owners. Here’s the latest:

Supervisor John Avalos has introduced legislation which will create a new fee on all alcoholic beverages sold in the City and County of San Francisco. Click here for more information on this ordinance on the SBC website.

The Alcohol Mitigation Fee Ordinance (“Ordinance”) establishes an Alcohol Mitigation Fee (“Fee”) at the rate of $.076 per ounce of alcohol sold in San Francisco to defray a portion of the alcohol attributable costs that the City incurs each year. Specifically, the Fee would reimburse the City for the following costs: 1) the unreimbursed health care costs of treating alcohol-attributable conditions, 2) the unreimbursed costs of emergency transport due to alcohol, 3) alcohol prevention and treatment programs administered by the Department of Public Health, and 4) administration costs, including but not limited to fee collection, investigation, and enforcement costs.

This email is trying to rally people against this fee because it will hurt small businesses. I guess that’s where I draw the line against free market and capitalism. There is a real cost to taxpayers when someone gets drunk and passes out on the sidewalk. Maybe they are homeless and chronic drunks, it doesn’t matter. An ambulance still arrives and takes the person into care. And it costs a lot of money. Taxpayers pay it. Shouldn’t drinkers pay it?


  1. Tax on a pint of decent beer (assume 5% alcohol content) would be 61 cents. Doesn’t that seem steep? If the pint would normally cost 5 bucks, it’s a 12% tax. That is probably enough of a tax to prompt people to drive outside the tax boundary to get their booze. Therein lies the argument against this bill. If all you do is drive the alcohol sales outside the boundary, you may not get the money you need to support the program. So, in 2012, when they review the revenue and see it’s not enough, they raise the tax and drive even more business out of the area.

    Now, maybe the bill actually has a positive effect on the number of ‘eligible costs’ associated with alcohol abuse within the city limits and we see that we’re spending less on alcohol related incidents. This is great but it also reduced the need for the staff that normally deals with such incidents (I’m guessing police/justice system is the highest cost to the actual city). So, will the government decrease the force size because of this? I think we know better. So, in the end, the taxpayer is still on the hook for the cost of these service providers. And what about the surrounding communities costs? Will they rise? I guess we’ll have to wait and see but there’s a risk that SF is just passing the buck on to its neighbors.

    I hope this get passed because I would just like to see how it plays out. This sort of thing works better at a state level, I think, but SF is pretty big and might be big enough to succeed. Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Comment by Lyle_S — July 25, 2010 @ 7:49 am

  2. BULLSHIT!!!

    Comment by chrome1 — July 25, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  3. Lyle_S – plus, people can make their own booze, drink at home, etc. 12% seems a little steep. I generally favor the user pays, but I’m not sure this is a good idea. I’m not sure people will go out of SF to go to bars & etc, but if this applies to sales of bottles, then I think they will for that.
    The only other effect is people will drink less, which may reduce the cost to such services (all alcohol taxes have this in mind…).

    Comment by Belcat — July 26, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  4. I didn’t even consider the home-brew/moonshine workaround. I don’t drink that often but if Wisconsin levied a tax like this you bet your add I’d start brewing my own beer. (Of course, Wisconsin would never do such a thing, this place was built on alcohol)

    Comment by Lyle_s — July 26, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

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