On Tuesday, the Weekly’s Joe Eskenazi made a kickass point about Mayor Newsom’s proposal to tack a 33 cent per pack surcharge to SF cigarette sales in order to help pay for butt litter and deter smoking:

And if Newsom’s logic were practiced fairly and across the board, then virtually any product could be hit with this kind of fee to justify its later removal. How about chewing gum*, the product that often comes out No. 1 on city litter surveys? A new surcharge would bring new meaning to the term “Double your pleasure.” How about cans and bottles of juice and soda? You bet. That goes doubly for cans and bottles of beer and booze — not only are the receptacles left around the city, we’re stuck power-washing the resultant urine out of vast swaths of San Francisco.

This is why they (still, sometimes) print Joe’s words on paper, because he knows about things like city litter surveys! And now, after a quick class at Google University, so do we.

We’ve had two litter audits, the first, in 2007, and the second came out last July. It’s kind of interesting — they break street trash into to categories, “small”, and large. Here’s the 2008 stats for “small” litter:

Woah! You are not kidding with that gum stuff. But check out this intriguing data from the “large litter” category:

Printed paper materials were the second most significant litter category at 380 items, followed closely by miscellaneous paper… An interesting observation was made in terms of what brands of printed materials are on the ground in San Francisco. MUNI tickets and transfers are a contributor to paper litter on city streets.

You know what this town needs? A TAX ON MUNI TRANSFERS. Because then we can subsidize cleanup of ticket trash and deter people from riding Muni. We get this to work, maybe one day no one will ride Muni and the City can shut it down, saving millions. Somebody get on this.

*While some of my best friends are smokers, I have to admit that I have been a bit whatevs about this because I kind of think the phrase “sin tax” is sexy. But as I sat picking a big piece of rock encrusted gum from between my dog’s paw pads last night, I started thinking, “Hey, why not? Gum chewing fuckers.”

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!