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Thursday, September 23, 2010

City Can Sell Booze at SFO. But Can It Advertise It?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 4:25 PM

A somewhat Kafkaesque situation erupted yesterday at the Board of Supervisors budget and finance committee meeting. No, John Avalos didn't turn into a cockroach.

Much of the meeting was tied up with a discussion about whether the airport was entitled to reap additional advertising money -- which would benefit the city -- despite voter-approved propositions limiting the amount of advertising that can be placed on city property. That argument was tabled at the request of the airport. But when Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi brought up the notion that it might be inappropriate for SFO to host liquor advertising, things got a bit Gregor Samsa.

If, for some reason, the city saw fit to cease advertising for booze at SFO, it'd create an odd situation in which the city benefits from the sale of booze at the airport but declines to allow booze advertising -- which would, in theory, spur the sale of booze and benefit the city.

The airport's duty-free shops, it turns out, hand over a percentage of their gross income to the city as a term of their lease agreements. As anyone who has ever walked through a duty-free shop knows, they ain't making their money through the sale of chewing gum. Yes, you can buy a Toblerone large enough to serve as a nightstick. But, going out on a limb, much of the stores' money is made hawking booze and cigs -- and that cash is passed on to the city.

Our calls to Mirkarimi and SFO's manager of governmental affairs, Cathy Widener, have not yet been returned. Hopefully neither of them has metamorphosed into a roach, either.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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