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|CMAC’s Response to San Francisco’s Proposed Alcohol Fee|
|Wednesday, 04 August 2010 12:38|
San Francisco, CA - San Francisco is an “experiential” city. While it is true that people come for the scenery and robust political life they moreover come to experience San Francisco’s legacy of fine food, fancy libations, fascinating people and exciting entertainment be it in a club, on the street, or attending a baseball game at AT&T Park. This is called culture, and our “culture” is the engine that drives the tourism industry.
The proposed alcohol fee may be noble in purpose, but will be incredibly problematic in implementation – the equally, if not more, important phase of the legislation which frequently falls short.
The California Music and Culture Association (CMAC) knows and empathizes that the City needs money. We need to look beyond what is a small part of the equation as the hospitality and entertainment industry is already being taxed to the breaking point. Every new fee and every new tax gets passed on to us, usually with some sort of multiplier, so that we have to decide whether we need to increase our prices which turns away our customer base or reduce our already thin margins.
While the legislation is aimed at the big distributors, its impact will be most acutely felt by small brewers and vintners, local music and entertainment venues and neighborhood bars and lounges, which have been some of the hardest hit in this economic downturn. Due to the recession, what most venues are experiencing currently is a loss of revenue per head. People are coming out but they aren’t spending as much. In some cases this decrease in spending is as much as $15 to $20 per head. This has all happened in the past few years and creates kind of a double whammy for music venues and nightclubs: The overhead and associated cost of controlling the crowd remain unchanged while the overall revenue declines. This makes everything more difficult, including bankrolling efficient and responsible practices, something that we all want, and, of course, paying all these taxes and fees.
We believe steadfastly in civic responsibility, but in many ways, we are being forced to pay for what amounts to a very small group of chronic inebriants. This is not the solution.