Richmond considers litter tax on city businesses


Richmond City Council may ask voters in November to decide on a proposal to impose a litter tax on city businesses.

On Tuesday, the council voted 6-1 to have city staff prepare a measure for the November ballot on the proposed tax. City staff must bring the measure back to council for further review.

Under the proposal, the city’s fast food businesses, liquor stores, convenience markets, gas station mini-marts and large retailers serving carryout food would pay annual taxes. The proposal was fashioned after a similar first-of-its-kind tax in Oakland that passed in 2006.

The annual tax may range from $233 to $3,800 depending on the amount of a business’ gross receipts, according to city staff. The city could take in as much as $675,000 annually if all businesses complied with the tax requirement, according to its preliminary figures.

The proposal was born from a list of revenue-generating ideas proposed by Mayor Tom Butt earlier this year in response to the city’s budget deficit projections.

Councilman Nat Bates, the only vote against considering the ballot measure, took issue with a proposal he believes would make the city less friendly to businesses for the sole purpose of fixing the city’s budget problems.


  1. It might make the trash problem even worse, some residents already have no remorse about tossing garbage out of their car windows because they think it’s someone else’s responsibility to pick it up. If they hear that the city is collecting taxes to help defray the constant cleanup, they may throw EVERYTHING in the streets, not just fast food packaging, used diapers and cigarette butts.

  2. Richmond really would benefit from some kind of educational program to get people to stop littering and throwing their trash bubble gum and various other things on our sidewalks and streets. Look at Macdonald 80 Shopping center for example. It took only a very short time for that brand new parking lot to be covered in bubble gum, motor oil, fast food wrappers and spilled drinks. Richmond is a dirty town and it’s citizens are largely to blame. It effects very poorly on us when outsiders see the mess.

  3. The is just another money grabbing scheme to over tax people. The tax was tried in California years ago and was a complete failure and repealed, for a number of reasons. The legislative analysts office deemed the tax insufficient, ineffective and waste of government resources. The City Attorney gave examples of fees (not taxes) in Oakland and San Francisco, but no recommendation for either (which says a lot ). Both these cities a very have a different demographic than Richmond (more businesses, stadiums, airports and residents). I find it very interesting that they always want to compare Richmond to other cities that little in common to Richmond. This is a scam.

  4. The State of California already has litter laws on the books. Why not have code enforcement just do their jobs? This is a unnecessary tax measure for the taxpayers to pay to put on the ballot. Stop wasting our dollars!!!

  5. Instead of taxing business we should consider taxing or fining the actual polluters themselves. Hire a dedicated liter patrol and hit people with significant littering fines. Considering the number of blatant litterers in town that should bring in the more revenue. It has the added benefit of teaching people to think before they spit their gum out where ever they please.

  6. We all know who most of the people that throw trash everywhere.
    I”ve seen them eating cereal driving down the street and when they are done they just toss it out the window.
    Why don’t we tax certain groups that cause these problems??

  7. Considering the fact, that Richmond needs to improve on attracting and retaining businesses both small and big, this tax will do more harm than good. It does nothing to incentivize or punish the wrongdoers (ones who litter) to change their ways. Thus, in no way will it reduce the amount of litter and actually encourages more littering, since the businesses will be responsible for clean up or pay the price. It transfers the cost of littering from the criminal to the closest non-criminal, non-human business. How is that a solution? And for new businesses considering to locate in Richmond, especially small businesses, such an ineffective tax will most definitely be a deterrent. I can understand a Carbon tax, but this is just incompetence on our city leaders, now trying to push the burden onto businesses to save their asses for not being able to balance a budget.

  8. I think it might also be an attempt to have businesses that distribute a lot of packaging consider charging a “litter fee” to cover the new tax/fee. Years ago a town I lived in had some people try to institute a re-usable container program for restaurants, that would charge a small deposit that would be refunded when the containers came back. It was in Oregon, where the bottle bill of 5-10 cents per bottle deposit is very successful at keeping cans and bottles off the streets. Some people almost make a living picking up cans and bottles at the park or after events. I could see where that might work with fast food and slow food to-go packaging, but the initial cost would be huge.