Alcohol Fee - Too Broad

DonRoss's picture

Supervisor Avalos has proposed an alcohol fee on all wholesalers and distributors to pay for the costs of chronic inebriants. But is this the right way to go? Do all distributors and sellers of alcohol share the burden equally or do the corner grocers that reside in the neighborhoods where the chronic inebriates live and drink themselves to death share more of a burden.  Similiar to a business improvement district, or a gang injunction zone, I think that these areas where the majority of chronic inebriates buy their alcohol should be mapped and bound and a fee should be place in this area or on these stores specifically. It would be easy to map where the chronic inebriates come from after their hospital visits and then determine where the fees should be placed. Because a restaurant chooses to sell alcohol doesn't mean they should pay this fee when their customers have nothing to do with the burden that the tax payers face.

Kasselman's picture

It's the fortified wines!

Agreed - Supervisor Avalos has his heart in the right direction, but his proposal is focused on the symptom not the cause.  A few years back, the City tried to work with the liquor store merchants around the Tenderloin to implement voluntary changes that would reduce the incidence of chronic inebriation.  Study after study has shown that chronic inebriates favor fortified wines (and we're not talkin Manischewitz) over other forms of alcohol - so the solution seemed simple, stop selling fortified wines.  Unfortunately not many of the merchants were willing to take the wines off the shelves.  What we need are regulations that stop the problem before it starts, rather than a tax to pay for the problem after it's begun.

Zaquex's picture

Conflicting Judgment

Whether or not you approve of the alcohol fee, I would like to point out why Mayor Gavin Newsom is opposed to the idea. He currently has at least $2 million invested in two wineries that draw in at least $200,000 a year. Tony Winnicker has stated "About 98 percent of PlumpJack and Cade sales are outside San Francisco." 

With this proposal, $15 million would be given to help chronic alcoholics. In 2007, the mayor announced his own addiction to alcohol, which bring to mind the question: Why not help alcoholics?

gcotter's picture

Taxes aren't the answer

I'm not sure that taxes are the answer.  If there are individuals who are chronically inebriated, maybe they should be taken off the streets - or where ever they are - and placed in state facilities.  Either they are functioning drunks or they aren't.  If they are functioning drunks - i.e., able to hold down a job - then their alcohol content ids none of our business.  If they are non-functional drunks - i.e., can't hold a job, passed out on the street, etc., then they belong in custodial care.  We had places like that decades ago - they were state hospitals geared to the care and treatment of people with mental or severe social issues including drug and alcohol abuse.  These hospitals were shut down and now we have these problems and no way to solve them.  

A tax is not the answer.  

DonRoss's picture

225 People

This conversation about chronic inebriates and an alcohol tax revolves around 225 people. This has been written about in past articles by Ken Garcia and many others. I cant site the study, but if I remember correctly, DPH released information that confirmed this number.

So if this is correct, we're talking about 225 people who are costing the City approximately $60,000 each a year or $13.5 million. Why not focus our energies and policies for that matter on these individuals rather than tax the entire system?

Rich's picture


We the people are taxed left and right- enough is enough!

Look at your weekly paycheck and see for yourself how much is taken from you!

CJC's picture

Rich, we have some of the

Rich, we have some of the lowest taxes in the civilized world. Lets focus on how to deal with problems and what taxes are necessary rather than just barking emotionally loaded slogans.

Phil Ting's picture

Fee for service?

The reason governments like the City and County of SF are looking at different fees is that we have a budget imbalance where revenues are less than expenses year after year, so we are forced to look at getting people or organizations to pay fees.  If we dont have an alcohol fee, how should we pay for health care?  We have a civic responsibility to provide health care if someone needs it via SF General Hospital, so how do we balance the responsibility while finding a way to balance our books.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137