City moves to cut off Walgreens’ alcohol plan 

First, The City banned the sale of tobacco products in chain drugstores. Now, it wants to ban alcohol sales as well.

Supervisor John Avalos requested Tuesday that the city attorney draft legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol products in drugstores such as Walgreens. The request follows The Examiner’s report that Walgreens representatives met with police officials last week to discuss plans to start selling wine and beer in more than half its San Francisco locations.

Mayor Gavin Newsom also spoke out in opposition to Walgreens selling alcohol.

“We don’t need another chain store getting into the liquor business, and wine and beer business for that matter,” Newsom said.

As first reported by The Examiner, Walgreens met with city officials last week to discuss plans to start selling beer and wine at 34 of its 64 locations in San Francisco. Walgreens has announced a nationwide plan to start selling alcohol at most of its stores, a plan it says is driven by the consumer. Two-thirds of the selected locations are in high-crime areas or areas with a high concentration of other businesses that sell alcohol. Each location would have to obtain an alcohol sales license, which would entail, in most cases, obtaining approval by the Board of Supervisors.

“This gives [Walgreens an] unfair advantage in the market place,” Avalos said during Tuesday’s Board meeting. “We want to make sure that we have an even playing field for small mom-and-pop stores.”

Avalos also said the effort is misguided, particularly after The City created a “good health policy” by banning tobacco sales in drugstores. 

“It makes sense that we continue to keep alcohol out of Walgreens,” Avalos said. “They seem to be doing quite well without having to sell alcohol.”

The proposal to start selling alcohol comes after The City banned chain drugstores — including Walgreens — from selling tobacco products in San Francisco. The ban went into effect on Oct. 1, 2008. Walgreens sued The City over the ban, lost a court battle and has an appeal pending.

Walgreens did not return calls Tuesday asking for comment.

Avalos said he would introduce his legislation to ban the sale of alcohol in chain drugstores as soon as it’s prepared, which could take several weeks.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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