City targets junk-food trash with cleanup fee 

Fast-food consumers could be hit with a fee to help fund The City’s cost of cleaning up discarded wrappers and other waste.

The proposal to hoist a fee onto customers, along with an idea to shed responsibility for tree maintenance, comes as city agencies are struggling to find revenue sources while budgets are being axed to help close a multimillion-dollar deficit.

City residents are already facing other fees as part of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget, including levies on cleaning up accident scenes and increased penalties for running a red light.

The City adopted its first litter fee last year when it put an extra charge on every pack of cigarettes purchased in San Francisco, and it’s building on the concept by exploring a fast-food fee.

“Fast-food wrappers are really the next biggest identifiable source,” Department of Public Works Director Ed Reiskin told the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee on Monday.

The City needs to determine if there is a basis for establishing a fee that would help offset the costs incurred to clean up litter.

“That is something that we will be undertaking in the next few months,” Reiskin said.

The 20-cent fee on cigarette packs will generate about $2.5 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Reiskin said the litter fee and other cost-saving ideas are being examined in case of the need to implement midyear cuts during the upcoming fiscal year or for next fiscal year’s budget. The City is facing a $400 million deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011.

The committee is reviewing Public Works’ budget as part of its review of Newsom’s proposed $6.5 billion San Francisco spending plan, which closed a $483 million deficit. The department’s proposed budget was balanced with layoffs and service cuts, and its general-fund spending decreased from $17 million to $13 million.

Looking forward, the department is considering relinquishing its responsibility of street trees to property owners.

“Responsibility for maintaining street trees on some streets is done by The City, and on most streets it’s done by the adjacent property owner,” Reiskin said. “The City does not have the resources to maintain the street trees that we are currently maintaining.”

He said San Francisco is only trimming trees on an average of every 10 years when it should be doing it every three to five years. 

The department is responsible for maintaining about 40,000 trees on streets and medians of the estimated 104,000 citywide.

Waste management

1 Litter fees San Francisco has in place

20 cents Litter fee for every pack of cigarettes purchased

$2.5M Estimated revenue from cigarette fee in fiscal year 2010-11

Rooted in The City

40,000 Street trees Public Works Department is responsible for, which are on streets and medians

104,000 Trees in San Francisco’s public rights of way, which are on streets and medians

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