Steamboat City Council puts bag fee plan on hold

Members to re-evaluate Yampa Valley Recycles proposal next month

— Steamboat Springs City Council members weren’t ready to green light a proposal for a fee on disposable plastic bags Tuesday, but they weren’t interested in shelving it, either.

Instead, council members, by a 5-2 vote, approved a motion to review the bag fee ordinances in other Colorado communities and provide feedback to city staff about whether to proceed. That could take place at the council’s Oct. 18 meeting.

During her presentation titled “Let’s Talk Plastic,” Yampa Valley Recycles board member Catherine Carson said the purpose of a bag fee program is to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags. She said they’re expensive to produce and harm the environment.

Her presentation suggested the city create a trial program that would impose a 20-cent “green fee” on paper and plastic bags at City Market, Safeway and Walmart.

“A green fee is not a tax,” Carson said. “A green fee is a market-based solution to reduce plastic bags in our environment. It’s a user fee.”

She compared it to the fee people pay to park in the lot at Fish Creek Falls.

Carson said 1 to 2 cents of the fee could be returned to the stores while the rest could pay for reusable bags for people who receive assistance from social service organizations, education efforts or to fund the city’s environmental coalition. The city dedicated $37,500 from its general fund this year and in 2010 to the coalition, which considers requests for funding from seven local organizations.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski and council member Bart Kounovsky opposed the motion.

“I think we can let some of the other communities do more of the heavy lifting for us before we jump in and try to bring something in an ordinance,” Kounovsky said.

Aspen and Basalt approved first readings of bag fee ordinances last month, and Carbondale is scheduled to consider the measure Tuesday. Carson said Telluride imposed a plastic bag ban in 2010 and a 10-cent charge on paper bags.

While several City Council members supported the motion, the rest of the council cited their desire for more information.

Council member Kenny Reisman said he liked the idea but thought things were moving too quickly to keep pace with the other communities, and he wanted to review the 20-cent charge. Council member Jon Quinn said using the funds generated by the bag fee to support the environmental coalition could take the burden off the general fund.

Council member Scott Myller said that other incentives for using reusable bags haven’t worked and that he’s ready to support a measure like bag fees.

“Even for my family, it will be a bigger reminder to bring” reusable bags, he said.

The City Council didn’t take public comment, but a majority of people at the meeting raised their hands when asked by Hermacinski if they supported a bag fee program.

If there is consensus for the first reading of a bag fee ordinance, City Attorney Tony Lettunich said it likely wouldn’t take place until Nov. 8.

In other action, the City Council:

• Approved, by a 6-0 vote, a final development plan with a 10-year vesting period for the 121,000-square-foot Casey’s Pond senior citizen community. Quinn recused himself. The project’s developer, Pearl Senior Living, had requested an unlimited amount of time to expand the facility. The Planning Commission denied the request, a decision upheld by the City Council.

“I support this motion, but in no way is this a knock on the project at all,” Reisman said. “I think it will be a phenomenal asset to the community. I hope to live there someday but not for a while.”

After the meeting, Pearl Senior Living principal Charles Gee said the decision wouldn’t impact the development timeline and that groundbreaking still is scheduled for next year.

• Approved, by a 5-2 vote, the second reading of an ordinance to allow two to three goats (excluding nursing kids) in fenced enclosures of 200 square feet per animal on lots zoned for single-family homes or duplexes. Council members Meg Bentley and Walter Magill opposed the motion.

• Approved, by a unanimous vote, dedicating $18,000 from the city’s Community Housing Fund to cover the cost of tap fees for Routt County Habitat for Humanity’s duplex construction project in west Steamboat that will provide low-cost housing for two local families.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email

Community comments

Note: The Steamboat Pilot & Today doesn’t necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy.

(Anonymous) insbsdeep says...

Don't forget the city will most likely have to start stocking the doggie doo pick up bags again if the fee is instituted. Some of the money generated should go to that.

If they are going to charge a fee, have it be for a reusable bag. Maybe it say Steamboat- "Green Town USA" ( just kidding) and they charge $.80 - $.90

Posted 7 September 2011, 5:58 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) CONative says...

I liked what Hermacinski said at the council meeting about this (I'm paraphrasing): It would be arrogant of the Council to presume to tell the well-educated people of Steamboat that they must participate in this program when many of them are already making their own, effective efforts to be environmentally responsible.

And I'm concerned that Catherine Carson doesn't yet have the backing of the corporate offices of Safeway, City Market and WalMart. Council shouldn't let this effort advance any further without support from the stores.

Posted 7 September 2011, 6:27 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) RPG says...

Put the issue on the ballot and let the taxpayers decide.

Posted 7 September 2011, 7 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) S_G30 says...

This will never pass through a vote. Everybody in this town is a liberal, until it will cost them money...

Posted 7 September 2011, 7:44 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) S_G30 says...

Maybe the top 5% earners can pay the bag fee. They can afford it, after all they are only paying salaries, benefits, using sevices around the valley, donating to charities, they have plenty of money.

Posted 7 September 2011, 7:47 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) bigfatdog says...

embarassing......absolute waste of taxpayer money!

Posted 7 September 2011, 8:15 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

“A green fee is not a tax,” Carson said. “A green fee is a market-based solution to reduce plastic bags in our environment. It’s a user fee.”

Council member Jon Quinn said using the funds generated by the bag fee to support the environmental coalition could take the burden off the general fund.

Hmm, sure looks like at least one city council member recognizes that the purpose of this is to help the general fund. And as a tax under Colorado law, it must be approved by the voters.

By Carson's logic, a government could declare a "green fee" on gasoline, auto sales and so on. And so any government could raise taxes on whatever items by calling it a green fee user tax. I'd be curious if anyone has challenged these bag fees because they are transparently taxes instituted without voter approvals.

Posted 7 September 2011, 8:37 a.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

I attended the hearing and watched a majority of council support looking into the ordinances of other towns. This was a presentation of Yampa Valley Recycles arguments about a problem. And a majority of council supported looking into doing something about it. "Council puts bag fee on hold" mirrors the Pilot's campaign against the fee, but since this was a first step toward a fee, that headline does not represent what happened.

Pilot, you have been opposed to this fee all along. Please clearly state your position that non-renewable shopping bag present no problem. Otherwise as you oppose YVR, please present YOUR solution to the problem.

Posted 7 September 2011, 12:05 p.m. Suggest removal

(Jeff Kibler) Jeff_Kibler says...

S_G30, excellent sardonic comments.
Scott, your arguments make sense.
lewi, what really is the problem? Mountain out of a mole hill?

Posted 7 September 2011, 12:21 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) sledneck says...

"Green Fees" used to be what you paid to golf.

Posted 7 September 2011, 12:48 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

The problem is many mole hills. For an example of the aggregate, you know there are growing islands of plastic trash in the oceans. Physically the plastic is harming wildlife in larger numbers. Chemically we know these plastics are linked to health impacts on ourselves. Just add more?

Rather than in the ocean, much of our plastic ends up in reservoirs and river banks. Just add more?

A majority on city council is looking at doing something about it. I support that.

Posted 7 September 2011, 1:14 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Ford) scottford says...

My message to City Council is to keep this simple test in mind regarding a bag fee. "Any assessment (fee) that raises money in excess of what is needed to defray costs is a tax." Do not play word games - call it what it is..

Regardless of your personal beliefs, or what you think the preferences are of the majority of citizens of Steamboat Springs, or what any other communities are doing in Colorado, the bag fee is a tax and it is beyond the scope of City Council's authority to approve it without a vote of the citizenry. This is not a "Green" vs. "Non-green" issue. The bag fee is a tax and should be treated as such.

It is within your scope of authority to pass an ordinance that bans plastic bags. It is within your scope of authority to use general funds to buy citizens that are receiving public assistance reusable bags. It is within the scope of your authority to place this issue on the ballot. However, it is beyond your scope of authority to use an ordinance to impose a tax without a vote of the citizenry.

If the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council wants to go through the process of securing a sufficient number of signatures to have the issue of a bag fee placed on the ballot - more power to them. Simply put, there is a process to be followed. Approving a tax disguised as a fee via ordnance subverts the process. Please do not do it - there is no need to take this approach.

Posted 7 September 2011, 1:22 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

I am relieved that our Council did not bow to the silent majority present; my limited experience has shown how splinter groups always show up to push their agenda. I agree that the proper thing to do is put this to a vote. "market-based solution" is pure marketing hogwash. The cost is already built into our Cheerios; how many times do we have to pay for those bags? This is no less than a tax, and the beneficiaries aren't even us, but a bunch of do-gooders who just talk, and get you to pay for it. I'm not buying. Here again, let's vote.

Posted 7 September 2011, 1:31 p.m. Suggest removal

(Jeff Kibler) Jeff_Kibler says...

lewi, what do you suggest as a broad solution? Plastic harms wildlife. Wind turbines kill birds and bats. From my point of view, my bias per se, there are always trade-offs.
I'd mandate glass bottles, if I were King. We've made great strides, better air, better water, environmentally friendly packing peanuts. I simply support common sense over a
chicken-little, sky is falling, attitude.

Posted 7 September 2011, 1:39 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

The recycling effort in this town is a joke. My unverified sources tell me how glass ends up in pavement, and beyond that I know little, I'll admit. But we don't differentiate, in our household trash; it all goes past Milner.

I spent last winter in Goodyear, AZ, and besides their bicycle accommodations being far superior to ours, so was their recycling. Brown can was for trash, green can recyclables, and you could get fined for putting one in the other.

We used to have recycling, when I lived at Sleepy Bear, don't know if that still exists, and the point is moot, here. I hate throwing all that good stuff away, but I don't know what else to do with it. Don't ask me to bike it somewhere, ain't happening.

Posted 7 September 2011, 1:45 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

You would be the first to mention falling skies.
The conversation to my knowledge, has been just that - a conversation. Frankly I don't know the solution. I just support making an effort in the direction of less plastic, and I support Catherine's effort to that end.

I'm used to seeing it on the banks of the Yampa. But I'd rather see less of it than more.

Scott F.,
We both spend time at the river. Are you content doing nothing in this regard?

Posted 7 September 2011, 2:02 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

If we're going to do something, let's go all the way, and not cotton to and support the special interests. Let's just go ahead and ban plastic grocery bags. That will force the grocers to adopt a biodegradable alternative, like the new veggie plastic, or revert to paper, which is also biodegradable. Of course any added costs will be built into the groceries; that's how business works, and that's all we should have to pay.

Posted 7 September 2011, 2:29 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Ford) scottford says...

Hi Steve -
The issue behind the issue for me is not a green vs. non-green issue. The fee on bags is likely a tax being disguised as a fee. There is a better way to do this - have City Counsel refer it to the ballot or have the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council go through the process to petition to have the issue of a bag tax placed on the ballot. The City charter provides for either way of placing the issue on the ballot. Since I think the bag fee meets the sniff test of a tax that is what we should do.

Agree with it or not, the citizens of the State of Colorado amended the state constitution in 1992(?) to provide additional taxpayer safeguards that prevent legislation that raises taxes without a vote of the citizenry impacted by the tax. In an effort to evade these safeguards, politicians can sometimes play a word game calling a tax a fee. The test is simple, "Any assessment that raises money in excess of what is needed to defray costs is a tax."

I think that the citizenry is smart enough to make an informed vote regarding a bag fee (tax) and how the funds raised would be used. This seems a reasonable approach to me. Other than it being a hassle and may take some extra time - why do you think this tax should not be put to a vote. It settles the matter going forward on its merits.

Posted 7 September 2011, 2:48 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Again, this is a tax not a fee, to benefit not those taxed, but a private entity which lobbied for the tax, and the directors thereof. Council should not even rubber-stamp it for a vote, as it did earlier this year in response to some other paid lobbyists, instead requiring the full petition process first. I don't think they could get enough signatures.

Posted 7 September 2011, 3:29 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

I don't mean to throw down a dare, but if Council DID approve a bag fee unilaterally, there would be valid cause for a legal challenge, and who will benefit, besides the lawyers? More tax bucks, lost, defending an illegal action. And how can I get my thumb in that pie...

Posted 7 September 2011, 3:39 p.m. Suggest removal

(Patrick West) mtroach says...

I just don't see how this can be called a tax when it's simply a fee for use of a product. If I goto Safeway and request paper fee? If I bring my own cloth fee. If only those that chose plastic bags are charged for their use, how is that a tax?

Posted 7 September 2011, 3:44 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

Some things are big enough to warrant being on the ballot. This is not one of them.

If its a tax, how is it being installed as ordinances. Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale are going that route: Seattle did years ago:

Posted 7 September 2011, 4:09 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) steamboatsconscience says...

And I still want to know how the Anti dispensary dynamic duo got City Council to put their agenda on the ballot without having to collect the required signatures........
smells fishy?

Posted 7 September 2011, 4:41 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

If the plastic bag at the store is being provided by the City then the city can charge a fee for those that use the city provided bag. Just as the City can charge a fee for those that park at a city owned parking lot. Government can charge fees for government provided services.

But when it is a customer shopping at a privately owned store then the only way the City gets involved in that transaction is with a tax. When government collects money from a transaction between private parties then it is a tax.

I don't see how it can be considered anything other than a tax. Otherwise, city could pass "green fees" on gasoline sales, have a local "health fee" added to tobacco sales and so on.

The great challenge for local recycling efforts is that at least historically it has not been profitable. When the recycled material has to be hauled back to Denver for further processing then that adds a lot to the cost of recycling. Note that the big Green Machine dumpsters allow Waste Management to collect material by just leaving a dumpster. If the recyclable material was profitable then Waste Management would be enthusiastically swapping dumpsters once full and encouraging businesses to use them. Instead the exact opposite is occurring because the recycling dumpsters are a cost, an acceptable public relations cost, but not a profitable side business.

It is a heck of a gap in logic and facts between there being issues with plastic in the ocean and plastic shopping bags at the large retailers in SB. Apparently, there is something very special about the plastic shopping bags provided by the major retailers in SB because apparently, the plastic shopping bags given to customers at smaller SB retailers somehow are not part of the problem. Neither is all of the food and other items in plastic containers an issue, not it is just the plastic shopping bags that causes all the problems. And apparently, the plastic shopping bag is not a problem if a tax has been collected. If the plastic shopping bags are that bad then simply ban them for all retailers, not tax them at major retailers.

And Steve Lewis, where do you see bias on "Bag Fees on Hold"? It is a pun enjoyed by headline writers and hardly that inaccurate. Was it passed? No. Was it rejected? No. Is the word "hold" that creates the pun a reasonable description of something to be considered later? Yes.

For all of the people such as Scott Myller that want a $.20 a bag reminder to bring their reusable shopping bags then ask the stores to put a YVR donation jar at their checkout stands. So when they forget to bring reusable bags then they can drop $.20 per plastic bag used into the donation jar.

Posted 7 September 2011, 4:50 p.m. Suggest removal

(Jeff Kibler) Jeff_Kibler says...

lewi, yes I mentioned falling skies. Let me know when you resume your monthly anti-war protests. They are curiously absent while the wars escalate.

Posted 7 September 2011, 4:50 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

conscience -- yeah I was hoping somebody would pick up on that. At the time they sought an outright ban, and while the referral to election appeared a setback, it was actually a minor "victory," as they too would have had little chance of collecting the required signatures.

As usual, money is the motivator, pharmacies in one case, a "non-profit" in the other. One just wonders, what goes on behind closed doors; this wouldn't be the first time this town sanctioned a special interest or party.

Posted 7 September 2011, 4:59 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) steamboatsconscience says...

lap dance perhaps?

Posted 7 September 2011, 5:13 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

Where above does one read, "plastic is great - we need more of it".

Seems safe to say, producing "less plastic" is something you'd appreciate as much as I would.


Posted 7 September 2011, 5:59 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

Oh, and war sucks.

Really bad for your treasury too.

Posted 7 September 2011, 6:01 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) exduffer says...

Maybe YVC and Lyman can get together and recycle all those bags into the perfect biking surface.

Posted 7 September 2011, 7:11 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) exduffer says...

Sorry I meant YVR, no offense to the Yampa Valley Communist party;)

Posted 7 September 2011, 8:10 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

I should have given the Pilot some credit for suggesting a solution in their anti- bag fee editorial. It just that their solution - free bags- ignores their own writing:

"Reusable shopping bags have been touted as a green alternative to plastic bags for more than a decade. Unfortunately, their availability hasn’t done much to change behaviors."

Its going to take a fee to change the behavior. That's how we are wired.

Posted 7 September 2011, 9:17 p.m. Suggest removal

(Patrick West) mtroach says...

Duffer; on a serious note what if all the plastic bags caused autism?

Posted 7 September 2011, 9:49 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

"If its a tax, how is it being installed as ordinances. Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale are going that route: Seattle did years ago:"

Well, as far as I can tell, Seattle is not within the State of Colorado and thus is not subject to the TABOR Constitutional Amendment passed by Colorado voters. Just like a couple years ago I couldn't understand how property taxes increased here despite Prop 13 only to discover that Prop 13 only applied to California, not Colorado (sarcasm).

And maybe only a tax will change that behavior, but I don't see any exception in the TABOR Amendment saying taxes can be instituted without public vote if the tax is for a politically correct program.

Posted 7 September 2011, 11:46 p.m. Suggest removal

(Rob Douglas) RobDouglas says...

This is a tax. And, the best evidence that this is a tax is the fact that Catherine Carson went out of her way to preemptively argue that it is not a tax. Carson knows it's a tax. The council knows this is a tax. Everyone in this community knows it's a tax.
Just as phony as Carson's argument that this is not a tax is her laughable argument as to why this should only apply to City Market, Safeway and Walmart. Carson claims that these stores have checkout registers that can deal with bag taxes while our local retailers can't. Nonsense. At every other retailer in town, the retailer bags the purchase and can easily charge the bag tax to the customer or not charge the tax it if the customer supplies their own bag.
The real reason Carson is targeting our three largest retailers is because she knows damn well that if she argued for a bag tax on all retailers in Steamboat this tax wouldn't stand a chance in hell of passing because the local retailers would be in an uproar - as they should.
I think it noteworthy that the retailers Carson wants to tax - because they are politically correct targets in a community that has a history of antipathy towards big box stores - are also the employers who pay benefits, provide career paths for employees and make regular donations to local organizations and charities. Most importantly, they have done more to benefit green programs nationally, regionally and locally than most all other local retailers combined. Not because other retailers don't care, but because larger retailers have the ability to do so.
So in Carson's twisted thinking - you attack those who've done the most to assist on the issue. Brilliant.
If the Steamboat City Council wants to hang out yet another sign that reads: "Businesses Not Welcome Here" than I highly recommend this tax.
By the way. I rarely see grocery store bags littering our local environment. I see many, many beer bottles, soda bottles, cigarette butts and takeout food containers in my travels around our community. Seems Carson can't even shoot straight. Then again, since her political correctness blinds her, how could she?
Finally, if the council decides to pass this tax (while pretending it's not a tax) it should do so in the only equitable way and tax all bags at all retailers in the city. To do otherwise would demonstrate that this is all a charade designed to go after deeper pockets and act as a wealth redistribution mechanism to fund winners chosen by the council to suit their social engineering preferences.
Afterall, that is exactly what this is. Carson knows it. The council knows it. And, Steamboat knows it.

Posted 8 September 2011, 7:08 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Rob makes a great point. I see a LOT more discarded McDonald's and Wendy's trash littering our environs as I pedal about, than grocery bags, specifically the roadsides and parking lots, wherever their cars get near. They forget they're not in Texas or Vegas. So I would propose a "deposit" on fast-food trash -- 10 cents for bags, a nickel for cups -- so what the tourists discard, the kids will recycle for pop money, or whatever they do these days. Note this is a deposit, not a tax, and you can always get your money back, and more, should you be industrious. Hey, it's "sustainable" too!!

Posted 8 September 2011, 9:15 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

And then how do stop someone from bringing a bunch of fast food trash from the McDonald's in Craig to SB and collecting the recycling money?

And there is a strong reason why YVR wants the tax - they want the money.

And what really really annoys me about this issue is that it is such a minor side issue. Walk the alleys along Lincoln and peek into the dumpsters behind the businesses. There is an immense amount of recyclable material in dumpsters. And if you were to ask the business owner why it isn't being recycled then you hear about no place to put a recycling dumpster without sacrificing city required parking and so on. It is exactly the sort of issue that it takes a city government to solve.

Posted 8 September 2011, 9:36 a.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

Were you there?

Catherine's argument for "why the big stores" was plainly stated when asked exactly that: She said "because they are by far the biggest sources of the plastic bags". She suggested working with them to judge the program where it is most complex, but also matters the most, and make necessary changes from there.

You rely on rearranging your opponents' priorities, and then slamming them for your misrepresentation. Catherine's motives above are invented by you, and then attacked by you.

The straw Catherine you create in your post is fiction. Twisted fiction that maligns character unfairly. Why is everyone you disagree with also painted as devious and beneath you?

Posted 8 September 2011, 10 a.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

Where above does one read, "plastic is great - we need more of it".

Seems safe to say, producing "less plastic" is something you'd appreciate as much as I would.

Posted 8 September 2011, 10:02 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

It isn't the problem YVR alleges it is, and it certainly doesn't merit us mandatorily funding their lame efforts.

Posted 8 September 2011, 10:09 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

The logic of why plastic bags from the big three are worse than the plastic bags from other stores is laughable.

The potential harm of a plastic bag is the same regardless of the store. Last time I checked, plastic bags from local stores are not vetted to be responsible green plastic shopping bags while bags from the big three are known renegades seeking to become litter. Which is why the proposed tax is per bag, not some fixed annual bag license.

The reason why the big three were chosen is obvious - they are large corporate big box stores which long ago were declared bad by SB. Thus, they are easy targets.

I do not know who else knows this is a tax. I wouldn't be surprised if no one at the City has thought hard about whether this is actually a tax and subject to TABOR. Is plausible to me that City doesn't care and will dare anyone to challenge it in court. It would certainly be intimidating for any citizen to go to court to fight it because the City has made clear in prior cases that they will continue to appeal losses until they are out of legal options. And the big retailers do not want to be taking the city to court when they know they will need future planning approvals for a future remodel and so on.

Regardless, this is exactly the sort of circumstances that demonstrates that anti-government views of groups like TEA Parties are justified. Using common sense understanding of words, this is obviously a tax. Amended Colorado Constitution requires a vote of the public for new taxes. And yet government is willing to play games with words and call it a "fee".

Posted 8 September 2011, 11:07 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Scott -- That's what's so cool about "class action" -- it is taken in behalf of litigants yet to be named, but nevertheless victimized -- damages can be considerable, how many bags were "fee'd" total (actually sold, again) by the time it gets to court -- duces tecum, baby -- plus costs -- claimants just need to document their losses to be reimbursed -- many or most don't bother -- so there'll be a lot left over, for me and whatever shyster wants to help right this wrong.

Posted 8 September 2011, 11:29 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

I will speak no ill of the City Attorney; he represented a boss of mine once, through some hard times leading to reorganization. A reasonable man, and I can't blame him for milking it for all it's worth. Maybe we can come up with some more work for him, eh?

Posted 8 September 2011, 11:45 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

I would first seek a change of venue; the local courts have implicitly stated, in the Gary Wall case, for instance, that they can't be objective here, they and the Government are one and the same. "close working relationship" they called it then.

Posted 8 September 2011, 11:53 a.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

You think the volume of bags they use, i.e.- being the "biggest sources" by far, is a laughable reason to work with them exclusively?

It makes good sense to me. No one at city council complained about it. If it was laughable, you'd think someone would have mentioned it?

Posted 8 September 2011, 1:45 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) autumnwitch says...

This is ridiculous-so we are going to force visitors to steamboat to pay for bags, because who is going to tote their totes on a plane-or they have to buy them, then leave them here or stuff them in their suitcases? And, if I forget my bags at home, which does happen from time to time, am I going to have to bag my own to make sure as much gets crammed into a bag so I don't charged a dollar when I could get it all into .60 cents worth of bag? Will the stores train their people to bag differently? What if a tourist throws a big stink in the store? Who will be policing the stores to MAKE them charge people. This is not the business of government-they already do more than they should. If the stores want to charge people, that should be their decision to make, not the city council.

Posted 8 September 2011, 2:42 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) 1999 says...

disposable diapers are a FAR FAR bigger issue.

I think each diaper needs a 50 cent tax.

lets see how that goes over!!
that will only add 12 dollars to a pack of 24 diapers.

seems fair ....right?

and that way YVR can buy "green" diapers with that money and sell them back to consumers.

good god thats brilliant!!!

Posted 8 September 2011, 3:50 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

"You think the volume of bags they use, i.e.- being the "biggest sources" by far, is a laughable reason to work with them exclusively?

It makes good sense to me. No one at city council complained about it. If it was laughable, you'd think someone would have mentioned it?"

Absolutely laughable. Do we collect sales tax only from the 3 largest retailers? Are liquor laws only enforced at the three biggest bars? Are grease traps required at only the 3 biggest restaurants? A plastic shopping bag is a plastic shopping bag is a plastic shopping bag. If it is a problem then it is a problem regardless of which retailer provided the bag.

Considering apparently none of the City Council mentioned that this is obviously a tax so it is hardly surprising they failed to say anything about the laughable logic of why the proposed tax should only apply to the 3 largest retailers.

Just got this from the assistant city clerk:
I asked City Attorney Tony Lettunich to weigh in on your question, and he responded that "City Council was presented with this idea on Tuesday evening and has directed staff to look into all issues. Certainly the fee v. tax question is an issue that will be researched".

So no indication that anyone in the City thought about this at all prior to the meeting.

Posted 8 September 2011, 4:32 p.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

If this is a trial program, why does it matter to you that every retailer is not involved?

"Her presentation suggested the city create a trial program that would impose a 20-cent “green fee” on paper and plastic bags at City Market, Safeway and Walmart."

Would you insist every retailer experience the bugs that may need working out? The trial approach to the 3 biggest bag sources makes sense.

Posted 10 September 2011, 11:10 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Ford) scottford says...

Hi Steve -
It is real helpful to refer to which Scott you are directing your questions to.
Scott W or Scott F

Posted 12 September 2011, 4:25 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Assuming that somehow a government imposed collection of money from a transaction between private parties can somehow be claimed to be a fee and not a tax then how is a plastic bag from Staples different from the plastic bag from Safeway? Using the parking fee example, it'd be like charging a parking fee only for pickup trucks as if there was a meaningful difference in what sort of vehicle occupied a parking spot.

It is bizarre and possible unprecedented to impose a tax on only three businesses by claiming it is a "trial" program. The normal way of working out bugs in a program is to have a period in which retailer and City tracks the information needed (ie number of bags used) before actually collecting money. This would be like imposing new rules affecting commercial snow removal and then say it only applies to Duckels, Connell and Native Excavating. So then other snow removal companies get to profit from the punitive tax being placed on competitors.

Posted 13 September 2011, 9:15 a.m. Suggest removal

(Steve Lewis) lewi says...

Scott W,
The difference is one store is a source of 100x more bags than the other. Your position would have perfect be the enemy of better. Much better.

And as I said, its easier on everyone to have 3 management teams at the 3 biggest sources shaping the policy of this program than to have every retailer in the city involved with changes. This is simply a better idea.

There are precedents for partial application: We have ordinances that trigger on the large size of a building. This one might eventually trigger on a large volume of plastic.

Your arguments revolve around this being a tax. We won't resolve that here.

Posted 14 September 2011, 2:25 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) BeCoolHoneyBunny says...

Charging a 20 cent bag tax does nothing to directly limit the amount of plastic bags customers of these stores use. It is a funding mechanism for YVR and it's programs. With shrinking revenues for the city, all these groups are trying to secure funding. Funding that can't be taken away from them in next years city budget.

I do though understand why they are going after plastic shopping bags. Even though I agree that there is way more plastic in the items you buy, plastic shopping bags are a better starting point. It would be very hard to change the way companies package their products. Remember, this is a "grass roots" program. It is far easier to target shopping bags, which most people walk out the door with unless they bring their own or only buy one or two things. It may not be the main source of plastic but it's the most purchased item (purchased because the stores already add the costs into other items you buy).

Why charge a fee/tax? If this is an issue the city wants to tackle, why don't we just offer incentives for businesses to reduce or eliminate plastic bags? Why not give businesses back a small percentage of the sales tax they collect to offer a better option than plastic bags?

I think a good starting point would be to change the way plastic shopping bags are used by the stores, which would cost nothing and probably save the stores money. Everywhere I go, they automatically put what I buy in a bag, be it plastic or paper. I could buy a paper clip and most stores would put it in a bag for me to carry out. Again why don't we offer incentives for stores not to just give bags out, but instead just have them when people ask for them?

Plastic bags haven't been around that long. People got buy without them before. We just need a change of attitudes and habits.

Posted 14 September 2011, 7:19 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

My position is that a plastic bag from Staples, Subway or Ace is still a plastic bag. My position is not the perfect is the enemy of the good, but that government should not be arbitrary and capricious in which plastic bags are acceptable and which are troublesome.

I find it quite easy to tell the clerk I do not want a plastic bag.

And it is increasingly hard to blame City Market for the customer's use of plastic bags because customers are being directed to the self checkout where the customer packs their purchase. Was there last night and that was the only checkout option.

Posted 14 September 2011, 9:45 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) BeCoolHoneyBunny says...

Yes, Scott W., I too find it easy to tell the clerk I do not need a bag. But, you are missing my point. Most people don't take the time to think about bringing their own bags or in general, not using what is available to them just because it's there.

What do you find at the self checkout lane? Hundreds of plastic bags for customers. It's easy to just throw your things in what they provide. It would be nice if everyone thinks like you and me, but let's be realistic, people don't. Whatever city market or safeway put at their checkouts to use as bags, people are going to use, whether it's plastic, paper, or something else. I'm not blaming City Market, I'm just being realistic. Identify the problem and create solutions, through changing of habits. Again, we need to create financial incentives for these companies to change, not a tax on customers to fund a non-profit.

There used to be a low end supermarket chain where I'm from in the midwest. They didn't provide plastic shopping bags for free. If you wanted plastic or paper you paid extra for them at the checkout. What they did provide for free were the thousands of boxes they would normally throw out for you to carry your items with. The clerk would ring your things and put them back into your cart. You would then walk 10 feet over to the boxing area to pack your items.

Let's find real solutions to our problems and stop bickering over minor details.

Posted 15 September 2011, 11:16 a.m. Suggest removal

Post a comment (Requires free registration)

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.