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.’”