I did not support the City Council’s ban on plastic bags at this time, because I do not think enough recent public education and outreach had been done to seek the help and support of South Lake Tahoe residents and our business owners and operators to voluntarily reduce the use of the “traditional” plastic bags. I also am concerned that the trend toward mandating reusable shopping bags poses significant potential health problems that must be identified and mitigated before a ban is in place.
I am perplexed and disappointed by the recent attack at the council meeting and in the newspaper on the City Council by those who only support a plastic-bag ban on their terms. The “ban the bag on their terms” proponents wanted customers charged an arbitrary amount for paper bags, and then claimed that not doing so is anti-business. Putting bans in place with penalties on businesses, and requiring stores to charge customers to pay for paper bags is itself arguably anti-business and anti-customer. More taxes, fines, rules, charges, schemes and restrictions are not needed on this issue at this time to protect our environment or bolster our fragile economy. Building resident support through active education is the key to success on this and a variety of local government issues.
I was pleased that the City Council directed city staff to undertake public outreach to determine the impact the ban will have retail sales within the city limits, receive resident input on the matter and determine if there are unintended consequences of the ban that need resolution. I trust that city government will undertake this task in earnest and promote and encourage public education on the matter. I only wish the public education component had come before the ban.
South Lake Tahoe