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Smart Voter
Contra Costa County, CA November 6, 2012 Election
Measure N
Business License Fee
City of Richmond

Majority Approval Required

Fail: 10549 / 33.02% Yes votes ...... 21395 / 66.98% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 3 1:05pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (53/53)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall an ordinance be adopted to impose a business license fee of one (1) cent per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverage served, provided, or traded by businesses in the City?

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney, Finance Director
Richmond, like most California cities, imposes a license fee (tax) on those who do business in the city. For most businesses, the tax is $234.10 a year plus $46.80 per employee for the first 25 employees and $40.10 per every additional employee.

Measure N would impose an additional business license tax measured by the amount of sugar-sweetened drinks served, provided or traded by businesses in the city. The tax would be one cent per ounce of sugar- sweetened drink.

A business "serves, provides or trades" a sugar-sweetened drink when it:

Serves a sugar-sweetened drink to a consumer, including consumer self-service;

Dispenses or allows a consumer to dispense a sugar-sweetened drink from a vending machine; or

Permits a consumer to remove sugar-sweetened drinks from the business premises.

A "consumer" is any person, including a customer, employee or guest, who purchases, receives or takes a sugar-sweetened drink at a place within the city to drink it. Consumers are not required to pay the tax. Instead, the tax is paid by the business. Businesses subject to the proposed tax would include restaurants, fast food outlets, supermarkets, convenience stores, hotels, vending machine operators.

A "sugar-sweetened beverage" is any non-alcoholic drink, whether or not carbonated, intended for human consumption, which contains any added sweetener other than a diet sweetener.

Non-diet sodas, energy drinks, fruit drinks containing high fructose corn syrup, and sweet teas are all examples of sugar-sweetened drinks.

Zero calorie sodas, black coffee, unsweetened tea or iced tea, unsweetened bottled water and fruit juices (including juices reconstituted from concentrate or powders) containing no added sweeteners (other than diet sweeteners) are not sugar-sweetened beverages. If a consumer, rather than a business, adds sweetener to a drink (as by adding sugar to coffee or tea), that does not make the drink a sugar- sweetened beverage for purposes of the tax.

The following businesses are exempt from the tax:

Any business that the City may not tax under federal or state law;

A business of a person under the age of 18 with fewer than $500 in annual gross receipts (such as a child operating a lemonade stand); and

A business consisting of a natural person who acquires sugar-sweetened beverages solely (i) for consumption at his or her residence, (ii) for his or her own consumption, or (iii) for the consumption of members of his or her immediate family.

Tax proceeds will be placed in the City's general fund and can used for any lawful city purpose.

While the proposal allows the City Council to amend the tax ordinance, a vote of the people is required to increase or decrease the tax rate or increase or significantly decrease the range of businesses or drinks to which it applies.

A simple majority of those who vote on the question will decide it. If approved, the tax will take effect on January 1, 2013.

A copy of the full text of this ballot measure is available, free of charge, by telephoning the City Clerk's Office at (510) 620-6513 or at the City of Richmond's webpage:

Bruce Goodmiller City Attorney City of Richmond


A "yes" vote on Measure N enacts an additional Business License Tax on all establishments selling sugary beverages. It is estimated by the City's Finance Department that this measure will raise an additional $3 million in Business License Tax revenue per year for the City. It is not known how it will affect sales tax revenues. A "no" vote will result in the tax not being adopted.

James Goins Finance Director City of Richmond

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Arguments For Measure N Arguments Against Measure N
Vote "Yes" on Measure N. Less soda + more sports = healthier kids.

The national obesity crisis has hit home. Over half of Richmond children are overweight or obese, and at serious risk of diabetes and heart disease. Sugary drinks are the main culprit, leading to weight gain and chronic illness. Each year, the average Richmond kid consumes 40 pounds of sugar from sugary drinks.

By supporting Measure N, the Richmond community can take control of our children's well-being. Powerful beverage corporations target low-income families with misleading advertising to entice them to buy sugary drinks. Big Soda profits, our kids suffer from diabetes, and parents struggle to pay medical bills.

Measure N will place a 1 penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks. These are beverages, like soda and sports drinks, that contain added caloric sweetener. The tax would not apply to 100% juice, drinks with non-caloric sweeteners, or unsweetened milk or baby formula.

The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, and the American Association of Retired Persons all support a tax on sugary drinks because:

Studies prove that when cigarettes are taxed, fewer kids smoke. A sugary drinks tax could reduce consumption by 10-15%. This means more of our kids will live longer, healthier lives.

Taxing sugary drinks encourages families to buy healthier, affordable alternatives - like water and milk - and children learn how to make healthy choices.

Retailers will be motivated to offer healthier products on their shelves.

Money raised from the sugary drinks tax will help Richmond fight childhood obesity and diabetes. Measure 0 will advise City officials to spend Measure N funds on sports fields, recreation, and health education.

Richmond can put children's health first, and reject Big Soda's thirst for profits. Vote "Yes" on Measure N.

Dr. Jeff Ritterman, M.D., Cardiologist, Councilmember, City of Richmond

Doria Robinson, Executive Director, Urban Tilth

Tom Butt, Councilmember, City of Richmond

Charles Tillman Ramsey, President, WCCUSD Board

Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine, Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Proponents of Measure N want you to believe that money from this tax will be dedicated to fighting childhood obesity - nothing could be further from the truth. The City is simply looking for new revenue in 0UR grocery carts.

Richmond's own city attorney wrote in the impartial analysis that the "tax proceeds will be placed in the City's general fund and can be used for any lawful city purpose."

VOTE "NO" on "N" because:

  • It will cost you at Richmond grocery stores-sports drinks, ice teas, melon and aloe juice based drinks, bubble teas, horchata, agua fresca and even certain infant formulas will all be subject to this tax. Grocery prices are already on the rise, we don't need to pay any more.

  • It will even cost you at convenience stores, movie theaters and restaurants because hundreds of beverages, including fountain sodas, will be taxed.

  • It will cost ALL OF US. Measure N will end up costing $12.8 Million in new taxes and revenue losses.*

  • It will COST local businesses over $9 Million in lost sales. Residents will be forced to take their business to stores outside of Richmond.*

  • This tax is regressive - it unfairly targets those that can least afford it.

On November 6, Vote NO on Measure N. Richmond needs to focus on improving schools; protecting our streets; and creating jobs instead of trying to balance its budget on the backs of its citizens.

Go to

[*Source: Berkley Research Group. William G. Hamm. PhD, March 2012]

Irma L. Anderson, Former Mayor of Richmond, CA

Brazell H. Carter, M.D., Internal Medicine Physician

Don Gosney, Labor Union Leader

Rafael Madrigal, President, 23rd Street Merchants Association

Judith Morgan, President/CEO Richmond Chamber of Commerce

Measure N: A Beverage Tax We Just Can't Afford

Measure N hurts Richmond's businesses and taxpayers. The money raised by Measure N will just go into the General Fund where it will be used any way the politicians want. This costly measure will hit the people of Richmond hard-to the tune of $12.8 million in new taxes and lost revenue (Berkeley Research Group).


ALL money collected by Measure N will go into the City s General Fund where it can be used by politicians for any purpose, including their own pet programs.


Measure N will affect HUNDREDS OF BEVERAGES like sodas, juice drinks, sports drinks, teas and more.

Measure N WILL COST Richmond stores, restaurants, and other businesses that sell sugar-sweetened drinks countless dollars.

Measure N is a REGRESSIVE TAX that hits lower income Richmond residents, who can least afford it, the hardest.

A new tax that takes additional millions of hard earned dollars from individuals and businesses without restrictions on ho w the money is used is not the answer to obesity.

Don't be misled Vote "NO" on Measure N.

For more information, visit

Irma L. Anderson, Former Mayor of Richmond, CA

Brazell H. Carter, M.D., Internal Medicine Physician

Don Gosney, Labor Union Leader

Rafael Madrigal, President, 23rd Street Merchants Association

Judith Morgan, President/CEO Richmond Chamber of Commerce

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
TRUTH: Measure N will save lives and money in Richmond. Obesity-related illnesses hurt children, taxpayers, businesses, and our local economy.

TRUTH: Opposition to Measure N is funded by the "Big Soda" industry. Each year, Big Soda targets U.S. kids with $500 million in advertising. Kids guzzle soda, obesity skyrockets, and low-income communities are hit hard by the staggering costs of illness. And Big Soda laughs all the way to the bank

In its glossy mailers attacking Measure N, Big Soda never reveals the true costs of sugary drinks:

Hardships faced by Richmond parents struggling to care for diabetic children

Richmond lives tragically lost to obesity-related diseases - more each year than from homicides

Lost revenue and productivity caused by diabetes, disability, and premature death

Big Soda cannot dispute the overwhelming evidence that sugary drinks hurt children. Instead, Big Soda recycles Big Tobacco s false claims about cigarette taxes: "It s unfair to poor people!" "Your city leaders cannot be trusted to spend the funds as intended!"

TRUTH: Anyone can avoid the penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks simply by choosing healthier options. Remember water? Milk? 100% fruit juice? Our grandparents do.

TRUTH: The Richmond City Council majority has publicly pledged to spend every cent raised from Measure N for anti-obesity programs in Richmond. Measure N is a local, grassroots initiative - our community will hold our locally-elected leaders accountable.

TRUTH: Big Soda lobbyists care only about profits - not about Richmond families and merchants.

Tell Big Soda: "Our kids' health is not for sale!"

Vote "YES" on Measure N.

Dexter Vizinau, Cybertran International, President and CEO

Gelberg Rodriguez, Richmond Business Owner and Richmond United Soccer Club, President

Zee Handoush, Second Generation Richmond Merchant and Richmond Business Owner

Antonio Medrano, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Board Member

Whitney Dotson, M.P.H., East Bay Regional Parks District, Director

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Created: December 17, 2012 13:44 PST
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