SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A two-cents per ounce sugary beverage tax, commonly called the soda tax, narrowly made it on the November ballot in San Francisco in a 6 to 4 vote by the city’s board of supervisors Tuesday.
At least six votes were needed for the measure to pass the board. It would have to be approved by two-thirds of the city’s voters to take effect.
Supervisors Scott Wiener and Eric Mar said the issue should go to voters and were able to convince fellow supervisor, Mark Farrell, who had been a bit squeamish about implementing the soda tax.
“Maybe certain approaches aren’t perfect. I do think that we need to be moving in this direction,” Farrell said.
The hope is that the price hike— 22 to 36 percent per container, will reduce consumption and as a result, related disease; like obesity and diabetes in young people.
Supervisor London Breed, who represents District 5 including; The Fillmore-Western Addition, Lower Haight and Haight-Ashbury said she’s fine with letting voters decide, but wants to make it clear that she doesn’t support the tax.
“I think there are better ways of utilizing resources,” Breed said.
The supervisors’ budget committee held their final hearing on the issue last week when a city controller’s report said the tax would decrease sales 31 percent. City officials have estimated the measure would raise somewhere between $31 million and $52 million a year. The proceeds would go toward nutrition, health, disease prevention, recreation and school physical education programs.
KCBS, KPIX, and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier said the tax is all about going after “somebody big” in this instance it’s big soda. “In the past it’s been big tobacco, big oil,” Matier said.
“It’s going to bring big soda into the mix. They’re going to spend a lot of money on this measure trying to defeat it. Small neighborhood grocers who feel like they’re going to be affected are already fighting it,” he said.
According to Matier the tax will exclude 100-percent fruit juice, but that partial juices will be included. “It’s being structured so it’s a tax on the retailers, the wholesalers bringing the distributing in.”
However, the controller’s report concluded that the tax will be passed on to the consumer. “You’re going to be paying more for soda,” Matier said.
Lawmakers in Berkeley voted earlier this month to put a measure on the local ballot that would impose a penny-per-ounce tax on beverages sweetened with sugar.