Save our Choice still seeks to reverse ban

July 16, 2013

By Peter Clark

Save Our Choice will not give up its continuing effort to repeal Issaquah’s ban on plastic bags.

Organizer Craig Keller said that, although volunteers were not able to secure the 2,843 signatures needed to appear on the August ballot, they would not halt the work.

“We’re making good progress,” Keller said.

The organization’s largest argument revolves around the issue being decided by the City Council without input from Issaquah’s citizens. Keller said a measure that affected business and shopping practices should have been brought to the voters in a referendum.

“There’s no way the council was able to talk to everyone,” he said. Since the ban went into effect, he said there have been a number of negative results, such as increased shoplifting and a migration of shoppers to other cities. “Those kind of issues are something that the council didn’t consider.”

As the deadline passed to collect signatures to be included in the August election, Keller conceded that the organization’s volunteers would have more work in front of them. Petitioners have been a semi-regular fixture out side of storefronts and go door to door some nights.

“That was an early goal,” he said of the repeal showing up on the August election. “Ideally, we will like this to go on the November election because the small stores will go into effect on March 1, 2014, and we would like to avoid that.”

The ban began March 1 only applied to retailers over 7,500 square feet, with the intent to cover all retailers starting next year. Keller believes that this is a burden that should not be placed on small businesses without them having a say in the matter.

State Sen. Mark Mullet (D-5th District) was the principal proponent on the City Council for the ordinance, and said he still thinks the process included the public as much as possible.

“It was a very open public process,” he said. “The chamber was involved, residents were involved. I feel like it was as open as it could have been.”

He maintained that the council even took special measures to ensure it responsibly represented the city’s concerns.

“I feel that the council had endless meetings on this topic and even had a special meeting devoted to it so it could air out,” Mullet said. “We even delayed the first vote just solely to get more input from the public.”

Keller, who lives in Seattle, said that a repeal vote is not needed to overturn the ban.

“They don’t even need a petition or me to do that,” he said of the council. “They could say, ‘This is a lot more complicated that we thought. Let’s turn it over to the voters.’”

In speaking with residents outside stores or in front of their houses, Keller said he has seen the gamut of public opinion on the matter.

“It’s a mix,” he said, adding that the ban certainly had a great effect on the shopping habits of the city. “I cannot count the number of people that have told me, ‘I’m shopping now in Renton’ or ‘I’m shopping more in Factoria.’”



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3 Responses to “Save our Choice still seeks to reverse ban”

  1. Mom with an Opinion on July 17th, 2013 7:46 pm

    This evening, as I read the Issaquah Press (Yes, I subscribe to it even though I live in the City of Sammamish-because we are a Community, not just a city), I noticed yet another article about the bag ban. Since when does a small city council have the right to make a decision that at least 2700 petition signers were against. Sure, the people of the City of Issaquah might have voted you in, but don’t you listen to your voters? I live in the City of Sammamish, but I do most all of my major shopping in the City of Issaquah. This has been the most obnoxious and frustrating city ordinance I’ve ever experienced. As one, of probably half of the people of Sammamish who do some shopping in Issaquah, I now make it a point to do my shopping outside of Issaquah, when possible. I like to shop where I am treated like a customer who is worth a free bag. I’m sure if you included the surrounding areas that shop in Issaquah in your petition collecting, we could easily have collected thousands more signers. People just have more important things to do than sit around fighting about plastic bags. Please get off your power plays, find something more important to vote on, and quit trying to play into the hand of Mark Mullet. Please just let our community be the customer friendly place it should be.

  2. jimu on July 17th, 2013 8:59 pm

    I would like to see this make the ballot. I have a hunch that the law will still stand but I want to see what the residents of Issaquah have to say on this.

  3. Sally on July 18th, 2013 9:16 pm

    Another “mom with another opinion”. I am for this ban. The argument against, by the very nice man who stopped here, was that our plastic bags are recycled so they don’t end up in the ocean. I don’t mind the fabric bags or the paper one or if I can, no bag. I think perhaps if Issaquah can be an example of taking the upper road, we should. Oh and yes I do buy the Press even tho it is free via a grant. And I have lived in Issaquah proper for 49 1/2 years. If you are willing to use fabric bags you will find that YOU are not all that unconvenienced. I also want to know how the town votes.

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