upper waypoint

San Francisco Soda Tax Proponents Scrambling -- Signatures Submitted Day Late

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

 (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Update: 2:30 p.m.

Soda tax proponents in San Francisco said at a City Hall press conference this morning that they had gathered twice the number of signatures needed to place a penny-per-ounce soda tax on the November ballot.

Just one problem -- the deadline to submit the signatures was yesterday at 5 p.m.

"The code is clear, the petition shall be void," John Arntz, San Francisco's director of elections, told me.

But proponents are undeterred by what they are calling a "technical error."


Yoyo Chan, spokesperson for San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, said the supervisor plans to introduce a measure to the board later this month.

"The plan is to do a four-signature initiative," Chan said. "So it only requires four members of the Board of Supervisors." The board would be required to hold a public hearing, but a full vote is not needed.

In 2014, San Francisco's board also placed a measure on the ballot, but that was through what Chan called a "legislative function," requiring multiple hearings and a majority vote.

"In this case," Chan said, "we submit it, and that's it." The deadline to submit is June 21.

Chan declined to say which other members of the board would introduce the bill with Cohen. But Supervisors Scott Wiener, John Avalos, Eric Mar and Mark Farrell all backed the signature effort.

Chan and Monica Chinchilla, spokesperson for the Campaign Against Diabetes, which spearheaded the signature drive, both declined to say how the deadline was missed.

Arntz said his department sent the campaign a letter last November with the city attorney's title and summary for the proposed measure. The letter clearly stated the timeframe for signature gathering and deadline as follows:

You must file your petition within 180 days from the date of the City Attorney's Title and Summary, November 13, 2015. This means your petition must be turned in to our office by 5:00pm, May 11, 2016. You will need 9, 711 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Original post:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's elections director said Thursday he will reject a petition to place a sugary drink tax on the November ballot, after it missed a key deadline by one day.

Backers of a tax on sugary sweetened beverages announced earlier in the morning that they had collected more than 18,000 signatures for the petition, well over the 9,485 required.

But elections director John Arntz, whose office verifies the signatures, said the campaign missed the deadline to submit those signatures.

Representatives for the campaign could not be reached immediately for comment.

Earlier in the day, they vowed to beat soda companies whose products they say contribute to obesity, diabetes and a host of other health ills.

Berkeley, California, became the first city in the country to approve a soda tax, in 2014. That year, a San Francisco campaign for a sugary drink tax failed at the ballot, as it did not get the two-thirds approval needed for a dedicated tax.

This year's petition is a general tax, which needs a simple majority.

Oakland officials have placed a sugary sweetened drink tax on the November ballot.

This story will be updated.

lower waypoint
next waypoint