Small businesses wrap up plastic bag use

May 27, 2014

The city’s ban on plastic bags kicks in July 1 for small businesses.

The ban — passed by the Issaquah City Council in 2012 — went into effect for businesses over 7,500 square feet on March 1 the following year. The council staggered the roll-out of the prohibition, giving other businesses another year before they were expected to comply.

The ban will prohibit stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags and require a minimum 5-cent charge for paper bags.

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Voters approve plastic bag ban

March 4, 2014

Voters decided to keep plastic bags out of Issaquah.

King County certified the final results of the Feb. 11 election on Feb. 25 and Proposition 1’s aim to overturn the city’s ban on plastic bags failed. With 39.32 percent of registered voters submitting a ballot, only 47.58 percent, or 3,595 people, voted to get rid of the ban, while 52.32 percent, or 3,945, approved of keeping it.

The ban took effect March 1, 2013, and even before its enforcement, volunteer organization Save Our Choice worked to collect signatures against it. After securing enough signatures in October, the Issaquah City Council decided to send it to the voters and let them decide whether it should stand.

“I think this was an interrupting process that showed representative democracy actually works,” 5th District Sen. Mark Mullet said. “This just kind of validated the bag ban.”

Mullet spearheaded the ordinance when he served on the Issaquah City Council in 2012. He said the board held six public input meetings before approving the ban, and he believed the vote allowed an opportunity to support the council’s action.

“You don’t get to see that often,” he said. “You can say, ‘Oh, the council voted against the public,’ but it played out.”

Save Our Choice co-founder Craig Keller lamented the low turnout of the election.

“The burden of restoring retail harmony to Issaquah now drops squarely back upon the council who created this mess.” Keller said, warning about the impact on the future extension of the law and the recent vote against an Issaquah annexation of the Klahanie area. “A little more pain inflicted on shoppers, checkers and small merchants may be required before the council swallows its pride. It must not have escaped their wonder whether their ‘nanny knows best’ approach influenced a souring of Klahanie residents against annexation.”

Keller, a West Seattle resident, invited citizens and business owners to mount another petition immediately and said Save Our Choice would assist.

The City Council decided to stagger implementation of the ordinance, so it currently only affects larger stores. It will impact every business beginning July 1.

Old year brought new problems

December 31, 2013

Top news stories of the year

Many new things happened in Issaquah this past year and not all of them were greeted warmly.

While most people saw new parks and a new mayor as positive changes for the city, contention rose around new technology, new development standards, new fish ladders, new plastic bag ordinances and a newly legalized drug.

Much of what happened in 2013 spells more growth for Issaquah in the years to come and even more changes ahead. The year 2014 can learn much from the lessons taught by this past year of transformation.

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Judge orders changes to bag ban ballot

December 10, 2013

King County Superior Court ordered changes to Issaquah’s bag ban ballot language Dec. 6.

Craig Keller, chairman of Save Our Choice, filed a petition with the court Nov. 15 to protest language he felt misrepresented the bag ban and would misinform voters.

Save Our Choice was the primary driver behind the circulation of a successful petition that ultimately led to the City Council’s decision for a February referendum on the matter and drafting of the ballot by City Attorney Wayne Tanaka.

Keller’s main complaint objected to language in the 71-word title saying the law applies only to “certain retail establishments,” bans “lightweight” bags and “encourages reusable bag use.”

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Issaquah bag-ban foe goes to court over ballot language

November 26, 2013

A judge will decide whether ballot language on an initiative to repeal Issaquah’s plastic-bag ban is misleading and should be rewritten.

Craig Keller, sponsor of the initiative citizens will vote on Feb. 11, filed a petition Nov. 15 in King County Superior Court that objects to the wording of the ballot title and ballot statement.

Keller is chairman of Save Our Choice, the group that circulated petitions against the law, which went into effect for larger stores last March and is scheduled to be extended to smaller stores next March.

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Issaquah City Council sends plastic bag ban to February vote

October 22, 2013

NEW — 2:45 p.m. Oct. 22, 2013

Voters will ultimately decide the fate of Issaquah’s plastic bag ban.

In a unanimous decision, the City Council approved a resolution to hold a special election Feb. 11 to ask voters whether a ban on plastic bags should continue.

“Over 60 percent of the citizens that contacted me were in favor of that ordinance,” Councilman Paul Winterstein said, defending his vote in favor of the original ban. “And I followed that duly and I take that very seriously. But we’re also a city of laws. I’m in favor of putting it in front of a vote, and I can accept whatever outcome that comes.”

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Issaquah plastic bag ban appeal request bags enough signatures

October 4, 2013

NEW — 1 p.m. Oct. 4, 2013

The petition is in the bag.

After consumer group Save Our Choice fought a long battle to gather enough local support, King County officially approved the petition to end the ban on plastic bags Oct. 4.

“King County Elections has completed verification of the signatures submitted to our office for the City of Issaquah Initiative Petition regarding the Repeal of Plastic Bag Ban and Forced Paper Bag Charge,” Sherril Huff, director of King County Elections Department wrote in her letter notifying Save Our Choice of the findings.

“Of the signatures that were compared against those on file with our office, 2,597 were determined to be registered voters of the city of Issaquah,” she wrote. “Since that number met the requirement of 2,549, it is determined that the petition is sufficient.”

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Bag ban petition is in limbo

September 17, 2013

More than 1,500 signatures are invalid, county says

King County has preliminarily invalidated more than 1,500 signatures from the bag ban appeal Sept. 13.

In a letter sent to City Clerk Tina Eggers and Save Our Choice co-founder Craig Keller, King County Voter Services Program Manager Julie Wise wrote that the submitted petition had failed the department’s first review. However, it has still not released an official certificate of insufficiency.

Save Our Choice has sought to bring the recent ban on plastic bags to a public referendum, discontent that it passed through the City Council without receiving a larger vote.

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Plastic bag ban appeal gets enough signatures

September 10, 2013

An appeal to the Issaquah bag ban is now in King County’s hands.

Save Our Choice, a volunteer organization working throughout the Seattle metropolitan area in opposition to bans on plastic bags, submitted well over the requisite number of signatures to seek a citizen referendum on the six-month-old ordinance Aug. 30. An as-yet-unverified 3,400 signatures were given to the city, which then passed them to the county elections department.

Save Our Choice Co-founder Craig Keller, who has gone door to door since the inception of the effort March 1, said he was not celebrating yet. Although the organization turned in more than the 2,549 needed, he said he would still collect signatures in case the county invalidated any of the ones already collected.

“We’re still collecting signatures just in case we need any,” he said. “I’m not worried that we’re going to get enough. It’s a relief.”

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Signatures have been submitted to repeal plastic bag ban

September 3, 2013

NEW — 11:45 a.m. Sept. 4, 2013

Opponents of the city’s plastic shopping bag ban submitted petition signatures Aug. 30 in support of an initiative to require a vote of city residents to repeal the law that took effect in March.

Craig Keller, the West Seattle resident who spearheaded the Save Our Choice repeal campaign, said he submitted more than 3,400 signatures to the City Clerk’s Office.

Keller said he calculated that 2,843 valid signatures are required under state law. City and King County officials will determine the number required and the validity of those submitted.

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