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Issaquah Bans Plastic Bags — Could Mercer Island Be Next? (Poll)

Mercer Island City Council will consider banning plastic grocery bags at its June 16 planning session.

After extensive public comment and council discussion running close to midnight, the Issaquah City Council made it official on June 4 — plastic bags will be banned at all retail establishments in Issaquah.

The growing Eastside city joins Edmonds, Bellingham and Mukilteo in eventually eliminating plastic grocery bags from large and small retailers — with a few exceptions, such as bags for produce, meat, prepared and bulk food at groceries. Mercer Island City Council will discuss the issue at its June 16 planning session with an eye toward moving ahead towards a possible ban.

Numerous residents and environmental concerns, along with representatives from the Washington Restaurant Association and the Northwest Grocery Association, made their support for the ban known during public comment at the start of the Issaquah City Council meeting Monday night. On the flip side, plastics industry .

In the end, however, the council majority approved a plastic bag ban in Issaquah, on a 5-2 majority. The bill will become effective in two phases, with businesses over 7,500 square feet required to eliminate plastic bags by March 1, 2013, while smaller businesses have an extra 12 months to comply with the new city regulation.

Mercer Island City Council is considering a similar ban, raised by Mayor Bruce Bassett at a council planning session in January earlier this year. City Manager Rich Conrad noted in the current legislative session to ban them statewide and advised the council to wait for the legislative process in Olympia to run its course.

Bills were introduced in both chambers of the legislature weren't voted out of their respective committees.

City Council agreed to revisit the idea of banning plastic grocery bags on Mercer Island at the June mini-planning session and possibly ask the city to investigate how the regulation could work.

Kendall Watson June 05, 2012 at 11:11 PM
You can already guess where some of this discussion is headed by comments made during the January planning session. The first person to bring this up was Councilwoman Tana Senn who had to leave the planning session early and expressed her interest in discussing the ban. Mike Grady was also in favor of seizing on the ban. Less enthusiastic were councilmembers Mike Cero and Jane Brahm, who said she wanted to speak with four local retailers — specifically Island Books — about a proposed ban. City Manager Rich Conrad said the focus on the bags often obscures other environmental impacts from modern shopping habits — specifically driving a vehicle to the grocery store. "If there's community support for the ban fine, but I don't want to get out in front of it," Conrad said.
Kendall Watson June 06, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I'm going to venture a guess that this will get a friendly hearing from a majority of the councilmembers at next weekend's planning session and will probably have the support of a majority on the council in some form. I've got Grady solidly "Yes", and Bassett, Senn and Bertlin as pretty receptive to the idea. Didn't get a read on Deputy Mayor ("Deputy Dan") Dan Grausz. Cero definitely against, Brahm seems on the fence.
Kendall Watson June 07, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Newspaper plastic bags (which you can recycle, by the way) are unaffected by bans currently in effect in other communities. Presumably Mercer Island might want to duplicate those — although two Issaquah councilmembers voted against the measure because it DIDN'T GO FURTHER. So you might see some debate on how much MI should push the envelope, not on whether it is actually a good idea.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 07, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Plastic bags work fine, are easily and usually recycled. Let's not add one more layer of unneeded regulations to Mercer Island. And how do we keep our newspaper dry in the driveway? Jerry-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 07, 2012 at 08:46 PM
No reason for Rich to be "out front" on the proposed plastic bag ban. We who live here should tell our City Council that we want no part of this interference in our lives including the proposed nonsensical "Road Diet"- and the unwholesomeness of "driving to the grocery store". Jerry
Ray Burt June 07, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Jerry is correct -- a large number of residents here have shown a distinct desire to resist change of all types, size and purpose. They didn't want a new community center, they balked when street lights get put up, they are against virtually all change when it comes to parks (except adding more), stores, parking, transit, bikes, pedestrians, trees, homes, condos, etc. It seems that in every case, the folks against change suggest the people (elected or not) offering the change are some combination of 1) incompetent 2) wasteful 3) unprepared 4) selfish 5) decidedly against the will of the people 6) too "new" to Mercer Island 7) changing for change's sake 8) ignorant 9) ego-driven 10) interfering 11) insincere 12) unwilling to just keep things the same.
Ray Burt June 07, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Specifically Island Books? Why did they call out one vendor....Island Books...about the ban?
Kendall Watson June 07, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Hey Ray, I think Jane didn't specifically say Island Books but it was obvious she was referring to them (I think she said "a certain book store on the Island" or something like that). She said she wanted to poll four local businesses and see how they felt about it. Island Books came up because, well, plastic shopping bags keep water off of the paper. Water isn't usually very good for books.
Jeanne Gustafson June 08, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Just to further the discussion here, there has been some lively debate on Sammamish-Issaquah Patch pertaining to the newly enacted bag ban. Specific stories/opinions that may be of interest as MI residents consider whether they support or oppose a similar ban can be found at the following link: http://sammamish.patch.com/search?keywords=issaquah+bag+ban. It seems to me that it would be useful to consider what Issaquah has chosen and read the user reactions. We've had letters from Plastic bag industry reps as well as environmentalists and comments from conservative think tanks and your average joe consumer; and have written about public hearings and our own observations and resident comments while offering canvas shopping bags outside a local grocery store.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 08, 2012 at 04:00 AM
. Ray is incorrect- as to "a large number of residents here have shown a distinct desire to resist change of all types, size and purpose" the many I've known as friends and clients have all welcomed meaningful change that enhances the life we are so very priviledged to live on Mercer Island. Jerry-
Ray Burt June 08, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Jerry, thanks for the correction. Please list the meaningful changes to which you refer. In my 30+ years here, I have a hard time remembering many of them that the citizens embraced. Look forward to your presumably long list.
Ray Burt June 08, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Jerry -- I am looking for a detailed list (not a sweeping statement), similar to the one I presented above where the longtime residents demonstrated change resistance.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 08, 2012 at 03:10 PM
. Ray- You comparative newcomers seem to have a hard time remembering just how Mercer Island used to be. So many good parts remaining are the result of citizens demonstrating "change resistance" to ugly builder houses, zoning violations (the West Mercer "Castle'), the Merrimount "Solution", etc.. Let's keep up this constructive dialog- after you flesn out your Profile. Jerry-
Ray Burt June 08, 2012 at 06:22 PM
That's a pretty comprehensive list. Though a youngster did mention to me that if really longtime folks were against change as much then as folks are now, most people who have been here as long as you probably they wouldn't live here now because no new permits would have been extended for any house -- mine or yours.
Kendall Watson June 08, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Change is inevitable — just look at Mercer Island Town Center. And the coming light rail station and planning for increased densities down there. In fact, one school board member (concerned about coming up with a long-range facilities master plan) asked last night what the student population will look like when there's 30,000 people on the island. A converse way of looking at the Road Diet, by the way, is the fact that the reduced capacity will make it much harder to tempt the city to raise density on the South end.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 08, 2012 at 10:51 PM
. Ray- This time you're right. With so many foreclosed and/or underpriced homes on the local RE Market, it makes no sense to build a new home. Remodeling is the way to go. And Kendall- the so-called "Road Diet" would be no more effective if it were extended South at great public expense- to say nothing of disruption. Jerry-
Ray Burt June 08, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Is it true that the city is considering a tunnel (ala the Viaduct tunnel) to replace Island Crest Way? Seems like that would solve a lot of problems (traffic, safety, etc.).
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 08, 2012 at 11:29 PM
. Ray- I hadn't heard that. While we use the Seattle Transit Tunnel a lot and find it very useful indeed in getting through this high density area, I doubt it would prove to be an improvement to our Island Crest Way which is really not considered "high-density"- even at rush hour. Jerry-
Robert T. Brown June 08, 2012 at 11:55 PM
May I ask which Board Director said that? If I had known they were discussing facilities, I would have come. Anything else interesting at the meeting?
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 09, 2012 at 03:53 AM
As I said before- and believe more firmly today- Plastic bags work fine, are easily and usually recycled. Let's not add one more layer of unneeded regulations to Mercer Island. And how do we keep our newspaper dry in the driveway- especially in this rainy season? J-
Kendall Watson June 09, 2012 at 04:35 AM
It was Director Dave Myerson, postulating on the school district's possible future enrollments. Geoffrey and Al from Citizens for Rational School Planning were in attendance and can confirm this. The school district's enrollments are still climbing but at a much slower rate (yet still ahead of the most aggressive projection from the 2010 Mack demography estimate). The board's message, LOUD and CLEAR, was to attend their June 26 survey presentation at 8 a.m. in the community center, AND the retreat that follows shortly after at 9:45 a.m. at the Mercer Island High School library. The retreat will apparently begin with a presentation by Mahlum architects that will involve possible changes to the Megablock/North 40s Campus. Superintendent Plano was pretty emphatic that, if you care about what the school district is planning on facilities/buildings moving forward, You WILL NOT WANT TO MISS THESE MEETINGS.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 09, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Ray- Here's the Tunnel article you'd heard about- in today's Seattle Times. Jerry http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018381546_bellevuetunnel08m.html
Carole Clarke June 09, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Why do we have to look at the comments on plastic bags to find out what went on at the school board on Thursday night? Obviously the PATCH editor was there and had to use all caps in his comment above. Why then wasn't the meeting a news feature sent to all subscribers?
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 09, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Carole- Seems as though one thing leads to another on these PatchBlogs. Capable PatchEditor Kendall can probably sort it all out- somehow. Jerry-
Kendall Watson June 10, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Working on it. Story coming in the next 48 hours.
Jon H June 10, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Stop with the social engineering that has not basis in fact. I'll just buy a box of plastic bags to replace the ones I use for my trash cans in the house. Instead of getting them as a consequence of buying groceries, I'll have to not only get paper bags from grocery and the plastic for my trash. As usual, the leftists miss the mark. I'd like to see compost-able bags instead of a ban. But the nanny state freaks march on...
Glen Hendrix June 17, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I put every one of those plastic bags from the grocery at work doing something else - cleaning out litter boxes, waste basket, dirty clothes hamper. It's easy with a simple device I found on the internet. http://amzn.to/JMi9LV
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA June 17, 2012 at 05:35 PM
. Glen- Good point, well put. It's a no-brainer to put our plastic bags aside to reuse them. Jerry-

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