SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS/AP) – San Francisco lawmakers were expected to take up a proposed fee on alcohol distribution, to help the city recover the cost of dealing with problem drinkers.
The Board of Supervisors was scheduled to vote Tuesday on the fee, which had the support of San Francisco’s public health director but not Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The mayor got his start in business as the owner of a wine store, and pledged to veto the measure.
Under the proposal, liquor distributors, wholesalers, brew pubs and winemakers would be charged 35 cents for every gallon of beer they sell, $1.00 for a gallon of wine, and $3.20 for a gallon of hard liquor.
The city controller estimated it would bring in about $16 million annually for ambulance rides, drunken driving arrests, alcohol treatment programs and other alcohol-related services.
Last week, Supervisor John Avalos won tentative approval for the new fee.
“This is a response that we can take as a board to really address the needs of our neighborhoods, our communities and the people who are suffering,” he declared.
Tuesday, the measure was expected to face a final vote from supervisors, but Tony Winnicker, press secretary to Mayor Newsom, warned that the measure’s fate was already sealed.
“The mayor intends to veto this legislation as soon as he gets it from the Board of Supervisors,” declared Winnicker. “It’s bad for the economy, it’s bad for local small businesses.”
Newsom’s critics responded that the mayor shouldn’t be allowed veto power because of his ongoing financial interest in wines sold in San Francisco.
Ahead of the vote, the proposed fee had the support of 7 supervisors. 8 votes would be needed to override a mayoral veto.
“I think it’s really worthy of the board as well, to look at the individuals who are caught in the cyclical nature of alcoholism,” added Avalos.
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