Potential Soda Tax in Davis Draws Criticism, Approval From Residents

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The debate over a soda tax in Davis is heating up. A group in favor of the new tax held a rally Monday calling on city council to get the initiative on the ballot. Some Davis city leaders spoke in favor of the potential 1-cent per ounce of soda tax.

"An over consumption that's leading to arguably the worst health epidemic of our generation," said Robb Davis. Davis' Mayor Pro-Tem, who added soft drink and distribution companies have already started trying to defeat the tax. "They will put a lot of money here, and they put several million dollars into Berkeley."

Davis said the tax would help reduce obesity in the community, especially among children.

"Sugary beverages are leading to fatty liver disease and these chronic illnesses, that research is happening right here in our city," Davis said.

But opponents told FOX40 they don't believe this tax really is about children's health, but instead the city's bottom line. Some businesses said this will hurt them.

"It's going to cost us a lot, it's going to most likely reduce sales which is maybe what they're after, but if they're trying to make money on the tax then it seems like it's a double edge sword towards the city," said Bobby Coyote the owner of Dos Coyotes Boarder Cafe, which has several locations in Davis.

Coyote told FOX40 while soda only makes about 5% of his sales, he knows there'll be costs for his business collecting the tax.

"There's no way that your distributors are going to pay the whole tax. I mean nobody knows how many times somebody is going to go back to get their free refills," Coyote said.

The California Restaurant Association, a committee within the Davis Downtown Business Association and Regal Cinemas also all oppose the tax.

Davis' City Council has to make a decision by mid-February if it wants to put the soda tax on the June ballot. If that happens, Davis believes voters will overwhelmingly pass the tax, just like Berkeley residents did in 2014.

"And I think it will pass because I think we want and have promoted a healthy life style here," Davis said.

In November 2014, a similar soda tax in the city of San Francisco failed to get the two-thirds support necessary to pass. According to the Sacramento Bee, the American Beverage Association California PAC spent $9.2 million towards defeating it.