Chewing gum fee on hold pending study

Don’t worry about an extra fee on that gum purchase just yet.

Department of Public Works Director Ed Reiskin said in February charging additional “litter fees” was being explored as a way to help close The City’s budget deficit.

When The City faced a similar-sized deficit last year, Mayor Gavin Newsom imposed, with the approval of the Board of Supervisors, a 20-cent charge on every pack of cigarettes purchased. It was the first litter fee. The fee generates about $3 million annually for the agency.

But there will be no additional litter fees in Newsom’s proposed city budget, which he’ll unveil today. The department has not assumed any revenue from additional litter fees, in addition to the existing cigarette one, in its budget.

However, litter fees are still under consideration. The department will be doing a study — known as a nexus study, required to implement such a fee — to determine the costs associated with cleaning up sidewalk litter. Chewing gum is the most prevalent litter when it comes to “small litter” — about 40 percent of the litter counted, The City’s most recent litter study found.

The department is now considering proposing additional litter fees in the middle of the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, but that is “tentative.”

Such fees are expected to generate criticism. Members of the board have echoed concerns expressed by small business owners who say such fees impair business and drive customers to shop outside of San Francisco.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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