South Lake Tahoe approves single-use plastic water bottle ban |

South Lake Tahoe approves single-use plastic water bottle ban

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday evening approved the first reading on an ordinance that would ban the sale of plastic water bottles.

The new regulations would prohibit single-use water bottles of less than one gallon, at city facilities and permitted temporary activities and special events and would prohibit sale of single-use plastic water bottles of less than one gallon within the city limits.

The new rules would go into effect on April 22 (Earth Day), giving businesses time to sell the stock they currently have. 

The public turned out en masse to give council feedback, both pro and con, with more than a third of the two and a half hour meeting taken up with public comment. Councilmember Cristi Creegan said this was the most public engagement she’s seen since being on council. 

Many people and agencies spoke in favor of the ordinance.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe said over the past eight years of cleanups, they’ve collected 29,513 plastic bottle caps and 21,139 plastic bottles. 

“We are not against this ordinance, if we never have to ship another bail of plastic water bottles, we would be happy,” said John Tillman, vice president of South Tahoe Refuse. He did, however, go on to say that there are worse plastics he wished the city would focus on, such as trash bags. 

There were concerns raised regarding safety. 

“The CDC states water bottles are the safest, most reliable source of water in an emergency,” said Brian Hernandez of the American Beverage Association. 

While the ordinance does have exemptions for emergencies, another public comment pointed out that businesses likely wouldn’t be able to get water bottles in time. 

Mayor Devin Middlebrook suggested businesses have a storage of water bottles and it was pointed out that the ordinance only bans the sale of water bottles less than one gallon.
Concerns were also raised about people switching to sugary beverages if water wasn’t available. 

Creegan said while she shares those concerns, “this is an opportunity to change people’s behavior.”

Middlebrook also said this ordinance doesn’t ban the sale of water, it just bans single-use bottles but businesses could still sell water in paper or aluminum containers. 

Councilmember Tamara Wallace supported the ordinance but wanted to give businesses and the community more time. She also said she’d like the city to look into ways to financially support businesses to put the infrastructure in place. 

The ordinance was approved unanimously and will be brought back during the next meeting for final approval. 

The council also approved a restructuring of the Community Service Officer division. Because of hiring issues, the city has had problems fulfilling its agreement to staff the Village Shopping Center for parking enforcement.

They are asking to create and fund two parking ambassador positions which would not have access to criminal justice data and law enforcement sensitive information so, therefore, would not need a police background. They would be able to staff inside the Village Center lot, and the parking garage on Bellamy.

Some of the funding for the positions would come from the parking garage. 

The lead CSO position, to be classified as a CSO supervisor, would oversee the CSO division, parking ambassadors and the VHR component. The staffing changes were unanimously approved. 

The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 4.

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