Letters for the week of Feb. 22

Feb 22, 2012

City's plastic bag ban is silly

Dear Editor,

So council has rescinded the mandatory 5-cent charge for paper bags, ostensibly to ensure that Albertson’s and QFC on the Speedway can still have a level playing field [“5 cent bag fee trashed,” The Beacon, front page, Feb. 8].

Hmmm. The original reason for that mandatory fee on paper bags was, supposedly, to allow QFC to offset the higher cost of paper bags. Hmmm, hmmm.

So the situation NOW is that Albertson’s retains the advantage of being able to use lower-cost plastic bags and QFC retains the ability (if it so dares), to offset the higher cost of paper bags with a fee.

What am I missing here? Just how did doing away with the mandatory aspect of the paper bag fee, while retaining the ban on plastic bags, level the playing field?

Plastic bags are still cheaper and desired by some customers and QFC can only offer higher-cost paper bags. It seems QFC will be damned if they charge a fee and at a cost disadvantage if they don't.

Those of us who like plastic bags, because we can use (ah, recycle) them more easily to contain our garbage (as requested by Waste Management), will shop, at least one week each month, at Albertson’s or, perhaps, Fred Meyer in South Everett, where plastic bags will remain free! Lost business for Mukilteo businesses?

The litter problem in Mukilteo isn’t plastic grocery bags – it is cups (clear plastic and paper) used by Starbucks, McDonald’s, and the other fast-food restaurants.

So why didn’t council pass a law that requires bringing your own cup for coffee and soft drinks? Your own mug for beer? They could have sold "Mukilteo" cups and used the proceeds to pay for their Rosehill Wedding Chapel (er, Community Center).

Another primary source of litter in town is uncontained garbage that blows out of household garbage containers at the curb on pickup-day and that is lost as Waste Management dumps that loose garbage into its trucks.

Waste Management requests that household garbage be contained (“shopping bags work well,” it says on their annual schedule card). Council could have passed a law requiring this.

I suggest that we wait for the state to act on the plastic bag ban, before we again make Mukilteo the poster child of silliness (a la the ban on scuba diving).

Kirkland hasn’t banned plastic bags yet and they are undeniably “cool.” Mukilteo can wait on this and still be the cool place council imagines it to be!

John Baker,

Mukilteo

Let’s make a difference

Dear Editor,

I recently read an article in Oprah Magazine, and I’m hoping you will share its message with your readers.

The next time you exercise, consider the Plus 3 Network (plus3network.com). You sign up for free, log your exercise, and every mile you walk or lap in the pool, or even carpooling and volunteering, can be translated into points.

The site’s corporate sponsors then convert those points into dollars and donate them to your favorite non-profit. So far participants have stretched, jogged, and danced their way to over $475,000 for great causes and groups.

I signed up to help a smaller non-profit group to help organic farmers, but there are many larger groups, such as Susan G. Komen.

I see so many people out walking when I’m walking my goofy dog or exercising at the gym – since we’re already exercising anyway, let’s make it count and make a difference in the world!

Lori Brosius,

Mukilteo

Road through gulch is city policy

Dear Editor,

After reading former council member Tony Tinsley’s review of my last Beacon column, I had to go back and re-read it myself [“Council majority opposed road through gulch,” Letters, page 4, Feb. 15]!

Upon further review, I still don’t see why Tinsley should be offended, but do acknowledge that perhaps providing some additional background and recent developments may help to clarify where I’m coming from.

Tinlsey was always an excellent researcher while on the council and my hope is, with the information presented below, he’ll realize my previous statements were based on me doing my homework and presenting the facts and not just “writing such a negative column.”

The bottom line is this. The city’s comprehensive plan includes an alternate ferry access road down Japanese Gulch. In 2009, it was expanded to also include an area slightly further east.

The only action the council has taken was to add the area slightly further east, NOT to remove the Japanese Gulch option.

Regardless of how much anyone talks about individual councilmembers being against a road down Japanese Gulch, the council has taken no action as a body to remove it, meaning a road down Japanese Gulch IS city policy.

You can cite all the “legal issues pertaining to the State Environmental Protection Act” you want as justification for leaving it in, but because the council has taken no formal action to remove it, the mayor has the green light to spend his time and taxpayer dollars pursuing it.

However, an alternate road doesn’t make sense unless you move the ferry. The council majority doesn’t believe having a road down a gulch in our comprehensive plan has any bearing on the future location of the ferry terminal.

I don’t agree, and after watching the so called “improvements” over the past six years deteriorate traffic flow, parking and safe pedestrian access to our waterfront, recent events seem to have substantiated my claims over what the council believes.

Does anyone really believe that a four-lane road along the length of Mukilteo’s waterfront that still connects to SR-525 is a better solution than a road down a gulch that takes access from Everett?

All I’m saying is once the ferry is moved, it becomes a pretty easy argument for an alternate road and as long as the mayor has a green light, a full time salary, city staff and federal lobbyists at his disposal, I wouldn’t be so quick to write it off.

At the Feb. 6 council meeting the mayor did acknowledge that he changed his mind on a road down Japanese Gulch but also said: “Do I believe that we need a road down somewhere in that area? Absolutely, and I will fight for that as long as I’m mayor and probably beyond.”

I say, let the mayor continue fighting for it when he’s not using taxpayer dollars to do it.

Previously I said the city of Everett has publicly and privately stated they wouldn’t agree to de-annexation of Mukilteo owned property in their jurisdiction unless Mukilteo removed the alternate road from our comprehensive plan.

At the meeting in December, Tinsley recalled a meeting some Mukilteo councilmembers, including myself, had with Everett councilmembers where this was stated.

At the first council meeting in February, the mayor stated no one from Everett had ever made that claim to him.

However in the resolution (see below) that the mayor opposes, I cite the actual agenda bill from his staff where this claim was made in 2009. It’s kind of tough engaging in a civil discussion when the mayor is making stuff up.

In December, one of the mayor’s staff claimed that in order to annex the city’s purchased property in Japanese Gulch from the city of Everett there would need to be a unanimous vote of the council. That means every councilmember would have to vote for it.

Anyone familiar with Mukilteo government knows there is one councilmember who will vote however the mayor wants. Considering that, I was convinced to not pursue removing the alternate access road from the comprehensive plan.

Other councilmembers cited the discussion “focused on legal issues pertaining to the State Environmental Protection Act” as Tinsley did in his letter last week.

The city attorney sent out an email to the council stating that the mayor’s staff person was incorrect in making the unanimous claim and in fact it just required a simple majority.

Realizing our time to address this error had expired, I drafted a council resolution that would formalize the desire of the council to take the alternate road options out of the city’s comprehensive plan and direct the mayor and his staff to work expeditiously with the city of Everett to annex Mukilteo’s property from Everett into Mukilteo.

The mayor has strongly opposed this resolution and so it has been moved to a council meeting after the public hearings regarding the ferry DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) have concluded. Still think an alternate ferry access road isn’t related?

Having recently looked through the ferry DEIS and attended a work session on it, I’m pretty sure everyone has already made up their mind.

Because if you really look at it, and bother to look at the waterfront, it’s pretty clear that the preferred Elliott Point Option 1 at the far end near the Boeing Pier doesn’t make a lot of sense.

However, that is the city’s preference, the Port of Everett’s preference, and as I recently learned, Sound Transit’s preference.

Based on the above, I get the city’s position, albeit I still believe it’s more about the mayor’s desire to have a ferry access road down a gulch than what’s best for the community.

I also get the Port of Everett’s position because WSF pays to take out the old government pier and builds the access road to the Boeing Pier. What I don’t get is Sound Transit’s support of Option 1, which was announced by the mayor at the last council work session.

The original plan when the Sounder Station was built was to have the ferry terminal as close as possible to the station to minimize the distance for pedestrians to walk between the two. Option 2 is the shortest distance, not Option 1.

Option 1 is roughly the same distance to the Sounder Station as the current ferry dock is. I really don’t get it. The only thing that really makes sense to me is the fact that the mayor is on the Sound Transit board, and that’s what he wants.

If only we could take a small percentage of the additional $100 million it’s projected to cost to move the ferry to actually fix the mess that’s been created over the last six years, imagine what we could do…in our lifetime.

Kevin Stoltz,

Mukilteo City Council,

Mukilteo

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