booze.jpgA controversial fee proposed for SF alcohol distribution is expected to be heard by the full Board of Supervisors today. This should be a fun meeting! Update: No meeting today (so no booze fee talk), due to a print advertising snafu. Whoops!

The “Charge for Harm” ordinance, introduced by Supervisor John Avalos in June, seeks to recover an estimated $18.1 million in alcohol-related costs (for treatment, emergency ambulance transport, prevention and treatment programs, and administrative costs the city presently spends on booze-related issues) to the city, according to the city controller’s office, by imposing a fee on wholesalers and distributors that would add about 3 cents to a 12-ounce bottle of beer, 4.5 cents to a 6-ounce glass of wine and 3.5 cents to a standard drink with 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol.

As many have noted, this fee’s pretty unpopular, with many bar owners up in arms, and arguing, according to Mission Local that the proposal “is badly timed and will do little to curb drinking.”

Avalos, however, blames “big alcohol” (who doesn’t love a conspiracy?) for the bar owners’ freakouts, saying that his op-ed in today’s Chronicle defending his proposal says “Unfortunately, big alcohol has employed two San Francisco lobby firms to whip up local opposition to the fee and foment fear among bar and restaurant owners and local merchants’ organizations. They claim the fee will be passed through as a 50 cents-to-$1 increase on a serving, and have dressed up the fee as a major job and business killer.”

One business sure not to be killed by the ordinance — the legal one: the Chron reports that “Industry opponents of the proposal are expected to sue if it is enacted.” That is, if the ordinance gets the 8 votes it would need to override the veto Mayor Gavin Newsom’s already promised he’d give the bill.

How about you? Has “big alcohol” gotten you all worked up, too, or are you OK with paying a little more to drink?

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 eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • John Murphy

    “is badly timed and will do little to curb drinking.”

    I have yet to meet a bar owner that wants to curb drinking – their problem with the legislation is probably that it WILL curb drinking.

    I’m waiting for the line that this will increase the city’s costs because now people will drive to go get drunk in Daly City.

  • John Murphy

    “is badly timed and will do little to curb drinking.”

    I have yet to meet a bar owner that wants to curb drinking – their problem with the legislation is probably that it WILL curb drinking.

    I’m waiting for the line that this will increase the city’s costs because now people will drive to go get drunk in Daly City.

  • DT

    Bars are not where the frequent flyers to SFGH are served. They don’t drink top shelf liquor either. They purchase single-serving malt liquor, pints of rotgut (occasionally something larger), and fortified wine, usually from corner liquor stores. They do steal whatever they can get their hands on at any store, usually supermarkets.

    A reduction in liquor licenses in areas covered by specific SFFD paramedics (Station 1 for example) where most of their calls are for drunks and ODs would make it more inconvenient for the drunks. Alternatively, assessing a fee on single-serving liquor for off-site consumption could go a long way.

    Is Avalos willing to provide data on the narcotics-related frequent flyers the taxpayer is subsidizing in many, many ways? Care Not Cash must require 100% sobriety and turn the client over to a homeless shelter for getting loaded. Harm Reduction does not work. There must be some sticks to go with the carrot of free housing.

  • DT

    Bars are not where the frequent flyers to SFGH are served. They don’t drink top shelf liquor either. They purchase single-serving malt liquor, pints of rotgut (occasionally something larger), and fortified wine, usually from corner liquor stores. They do steal whatever they can get their hands on at any store, usually supermarkets.

    A reduction in liquor licenses in areas covered by specific SFFD paramedics (Station 1 for example) where most of their calls are for drunks and ODs would make it more inconvenient for the drunks. Alternatively, assessing a fee on single-serving liquor for off-site consumption could go a long way.

    Is Avalos willing to provide data on the narcotics-related frequent flyers the taxpayer is subsidizing in many, many ways? Care Not Cash must require 100% sobriety and turn the client over to a homeless shelter for getting loaded. Harm Reduction does not work. There must be some sticks to go with the carrot of free housing.

  • areallyniceguy

    I am a responsible drinker. I am not responsible for drunkards and bums.

  • areallyniceguy

    I am a responsible drinker. I am not responsible for drunkards and bums.

  • John Murphy

    DT – I see all your random emergency visits and raise you one Joshua Calder – who was served at a local restaurant, and will cost this city a lot of money in direct costs and in theory a lot more in indirect costs in the form of lost tax revenues from German tourists.

  • John Murphy

    DT – I see all your random emergency visits and raise you one Joshua Calder – who was served at a local restaurant, and will cost this city a lot of money in direct costs and in theory a lot more in indirect costs in the form of lost tax revenues from German tourists.

  • KWillets

    “big alcohol”? Where can I get one?

  • KWillets

    “big alcohol”? Where can I get one?

  • ChuckInSF

    Guess I’ll be buying pitchers from now on…

  • ChuckInSF

    Guess I’ll be buying pitchers from now on…