Press Editorial

September 4, 2012

Healthy ecosystem supports salmon

Last week, the first returning salmon of 2012 were seen at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery where they have come home to spawn. More will follow in the fall months ahead, crowding the many tributaries that feed into Lake Sammamish.

A healthy return of the Northwest’s favorite fish is an important symbol of the health of our streams, lakes and Puget Sound ecosystems.

While some residents are crying about the imposition of tough city laws meant to strengthen the salmon’s habitat — and our own — the fact remains that Issaquah has embraced its role as watershed steward. Our waterways are healthier today than 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

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Issaquah plastic bag ban could go to voters for decision

June 19, 2012

Issaquah voters could decide on the plastic bag ban enacted by the City Council if a repeal measure launched by a Seattle resident qualifies for the ballot.

The campaign, called Save Our Choice, is modeled on a recent failed effort to repeal the Seattle plastic bag ban. Save Our Choice organizer Craig Keller is in the process of collecting signatures to put a repeal measure for the Issaquah ordinance on the November ballot.

In a 5-2 decision, Issaquah council members passed a plastic bag ban June 4. The decision came after a series of public meetings and a flurry of emails to elected officials.

The local business community offered a tepid response to the proposal, even as statewide environmental groups and regional plastic manufacturers sprung into action to defend and oppose the legislation. Read more

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Press Editorial

June 12, 2012

Plastic bag ordinance doesn’t go far enough

The City Council has passed a ban on plastic bags used for retail and grocery items, but it hasn’t gone far enough.

We are disappointed that the ban will only apply to stores larger than 7,500 square feet, but not for another year. It won’t be until 2014 that the ban goes into effect for all retailers.

Our other disappointment is that the ordinance has no real teeth for enforcement. It has been more than two years since the city outlawed Styrofoam containers for takeout food, yet some restaurants continue to use them. The city seems unable to enforce its own rules today, let alone a plastic bag ban next year.

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City Council schedules plastic bag hearing for April 30

April 17, 2012

In a push to collect more input on a proposal to outlaw plastic bags at Issaquah businesses, the City Council scheduled another opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed ban.

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City Council schedules hearing to gather input on proposed plastic bag ban

April 13, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. April 13, 2012

In a push to collect more input on a proposal to outlaw plastic bags at Issaquah business, City Council scheduled another opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed ban.

Supporters said a plastic bag ban could reduce landfill waste and marine pollution. Opponents said the legislation could lead to lost plastics manufacturing jobs in the region.

Citizens can comment on the proposed plastic bag ban at a special meeting and public hearing April 30. The council is not expected to reach a decision on the legislation at the meeting.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

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Officials consider plastic bag ban for Issaquah

February 14, 2012

Officials intend to use Seattle ordinance as model

Canvas bags could turn into a more common sight in Issaquah checkout lanes soon.

The city is poised to join Bellingham, Edmonds, Mukilteo and Seattle to ban plastic bags at local retailers — to limit garbage headed for the King County landfill and reduce pollution in Puget Sound.

Though a decision on a plastic bag ban is months distant, the Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee plans to start collecting input from businesses owners and residents Feb. 16.

“To me, the beauty of it is, you get to your end objective, which is getting rid of plastic bags, and you’re not putting an undue, negative impact on the businesses in your community,” said Councilman Mark Mullet, a local merchant and the committee chairman.

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Press Editorial

January 3, 2012

2012 Issaquah goals are very achievable

Each year our news staff and editorial board put their heads together to create a list of goals for the Issaquah area. Some are repeats from former years, but are still on our wish list.

Environmentally speaking — Local restaurants need to step up and get compliant with the city’s mandate on use of recyclable containers. Most already have, but not all. The city should go a step further and follow Seattle’s lead in banning plastic grocery and retail bags.

Central Issaquah Plan — The plan that will act as a guideline for redevelopment of Issaquah’s business district should be completed this year. Take it one step further and implement it for new development in the highlands, too.

Park Pointe — Now that the land deal is done, the city and volunteers can transform the 100 acres on Tiger Mountain for everyone to enjoy; Issaquah Environmental Council volunteers started the process last week by planting native species.

Economic development — With the re-engineering of how City Hall functions to encourage a more robust economic development of the business community, the time has come for action. Put measurable goals in place immediately with an eye toward filling vacant storefronts.

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Issaquah voters re-elect Councilman Joshua Schaer

November 15, 2011

Joshua Schaer (right), calls his mother Nancy Schaer, of Redmond, to tell her about his lead in the Issaquah City Council race, as former Councilman David Kappler chats with other election night partygoers at the Issaquah Brewhouse. By Greg Farrar 

Joshua Schaer, the only City Council member to face a challenger in a little-noticed campaign season, trounced opponent TJ Filley as the off-year election came to a close.

Incumbents scored leads in the initial election results released just after 8 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 8, eliminating the prospect of a long pause before a frontrunner emerged. Schaer, alongside incumbents on the Issaquah School Board and Port of Seattle Commission, pulled ahead early.

Though voters decided on the majority of council seats, only Schaer attracted a challenger. Incumbent Councilman Fred Butler, appointed Councilwoman Stacy Goodman and candidate Paul Winterstein cruised into office in the other council races. Terms for the triumphant candidates start in January.

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Press Editorial

October 18, 2011

Schaer has earned another council term

The choice in Issaquah’s only contested City Council race is stark.

Incumbent Joshua Schaer articulates a clear vision for the future. Schaer has fashioned a reputation as a councilman unwilling to yield just for the sake of another unanimous vote. Such independence is valuable for a council member and even better for the citizens he represents.

Schaer also brings a broad understanding of the tiny details of city policy — a critical factor for elected officials as the council delves into the Central Issaquah Plan, a medical marijuana ordinance and other hefty issues in the year ahead.

Schaer deserves credit for pushing the first-on-the-Eastside food-packaging ordinance to ban Styrofoam takeout containers. In his second term, however, he needs to lead the charge to increase compliance with the ordinance.

Challenger TJ Filley initially built a single-issue campaign around the pedestrian bridge across Interstate 90 at state Route 900. Though Filley deserves praise for attracting attention to the late and over-budget project, the continued focus on the now-completed bridge is counterproductive.

Filley needs more local experience, while Schaer has earned a second term.

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Joshua Schaer is not afraid to disagree

October 11, 2011

On a City Council often united in 7-0 decisions, Joshua Schaer is the occasional outlier.

The councilman opposed a hike in cable rates, a redo along Newport Way Northwest and proposed changes to the same street near Issaquah Valley Elementary School. The opposition earned Schaer a grudging respect from council members — and a reputation for outspokenness.

“I’m not trying to be contrarian, and I’m not trying to be difficult, but you can’t have 7-0 votes on every issue,” he said.

Joshua Schaer

Now, as a candidate for a second term on the council, Schaer highlights the no votes just as much as accomplishments.

The councilman, 33, spearheaded a food-packaging ordinance to require restaurateurs and other food sellers to use compostable and recycle takeout containers and utensils.

The legislation is a signature issue as Schaer heads from door to door to greet potential supporters. Newcomer TJ Filley is the other candidate in the race for the Position 4 seat.

“I can’t take credit for the original idea, because it started in a lot of cities. Portland has been doing it for 20 years. Cities in California have been doing it for many years. Seattle was really the model that I looked at,” Schaer said. “If it can work in Seattle with the size of that city, then certainly it can work in Issaquah, where we are leaders in environmental preservation and sustainability. To be the first city on the Eastside to do this, I think, is a tremendous accomplishment.”

The measure caused some heartburn among business leaders, and the rollout continues to face difficulties almost a year after the ordinance took effect. Still, Schaer said the ordinance is a milestone for a city focused on sustainability.

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