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BI adds to waste ordinance

The Bainbridge Island City Council last week adopted a law to further reduce plastic waste from food service and lodging businesses.

The new ordinance: prohibits disposable plastic food service ware; requires that disposable food service ware be “home compostable”; prohibits the use of expanded polystyrene-based food service ware for prepared food; requires a 25 cent fee for disposable cups; requires reusable food service ware for onsite dining; encourages the use of refillable dispensers for personal care products in lodging establishments; and prohibits the distribution of single-use personal care products not packaged in “home compostable packaging.”

The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The city will focus on education and outreach efforts in 2022, developing resources to support the business community in implementing the new requirements. The city will also review opportunities to provide financial assistance to local businesses affected by the ordinance to assist with the initial costs of compliance.

The law builds upon June 2021 revisions to the municipal code that only allows single-use foodservice products to be provided when customers ask or confirm they would like to use them. That new rule takes effect Jan. 1.

Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos, who worked with a community task force on the law, said the goal is to use products that disintegrate naturally in the environment or in composting bins. She said customers need to bring their own reusable cups to avoid the 25 cent fee. She added businesses were involved in the process and were supportive of the changes.

During public comments, caller Sal DeRosalia disagreed with that last statement. “The business community was not consulted on this,” he said. “I heard their complaints.” He encouraged the council to talk to business owners, not just chamber and downtown association leaders. He asked the city to set up a task force that would involve businesses in further decisions that affect them.

Many other callers supported the new law.

Michael Cox applauded the effort to reduce plastic use. “We all know what it has done to the environment; we see it every day.” He said involving all stakeholders will provide a model for the passage of future initiatives.

Nora Nickum said the new law will reduce greenhouse gases at every step of the process and gives businesses incentives to switch. Bobbie Morgan said the city needs to reduce its CO2 and launching this new law is a first step in doing that. Diane Landry said she worked with businesses as a chamber ambassador and only one out of 85 had a problem with it. Ellen Lockhart said the city has talked about reducing plastic use long enough, and, “It’s time to take action.” She said if BI passes a law, “It will have a ripple effect elsewhere.” Another caller emphasized the health hazards to people who digest plastics.

Tax break

The council also approved a law to create a program that incentivizes the development of multifamily and affordable housing on BI by exempting qualifying new housing from property taxes.

The program, known as Multifamily Tax Exemption will apply in two areas: Winslow Master Plan Study Area and Winslow Sewer System Service Area; and Lynwood Center Area: Neighborhood Center (NC), NC/R-12 and R-5 zones.

12-year MFTE program: For rental projects: 20% of housing units must be rented to low-income households or below. For example, a four-person household in 2021 qualifies as low income if their gross income is $75,300 or less. For home-ownership projects, 100% of housing units are required to be sold to low-income households or below.

20-year MFTE program: The state requires at least 25% of the units be sold to a nonprofit or local government partner and requires those units to be sold or rented to low-income households.

The program does not apply to the value of land or any non-residential development. The levy would be shifted through a tax increase divided among property owners islandwide.

Council changes

The city is preparing for the transition of two new councilmembers in the south and central wards following the Nov. 2 election.

Jon Quitslund, the successor to Councilmember Christy Carr for Position 3, will take office after the election is certified Nov. 23. For Position 5, Mayor Rasham Nassar’s term will expire Dec. 31. Clarence Moriwaki will begin his position Jan. 1, 2022 for a four-year term. A recognition of service for Nassar will be held Dec. 14.

Carr was recognized last week for her service on council from May 2020 to November 2021. Carr, a 20-year resident of Bainbridge Island and former senior planner for the city, is the first former BI staff person to serve as a councilmember.

Traffic circle

During public comments, four people spoke against the City Council coming out against traffic circles planned for Highway 305.

Robert Miller said the one planned for Madison has already gone through the public process and is a “vital safety measure years in the making.” He and others said making left turns there are “treacherous.” He said the council would be “wasting time, money and energy with a last-minute, misguided attempt to stop it.”

Another caller said they bought a home with the understanding the traffic circle would be built. She worries about two inexperienced drivers in her family. Another caller said he worried so much that their family actually moved after 25 years when one of his children reached driving age. He added he begged for something to be done for years, as when the line of cars gets long drivers can feel pressure to take the risk. The final caller said she saw a fatal accident there recently and that “nightmare” stays with her.

Councilmember Michael Pollock said it’s such a huge project that would cost $35 million that he thought could be better spent elsewhere, such as sustainable transportation to reduce climate change.

In a tie vote 3-3, the council decided not to follow through on the idea.

In other news

•Passed an ordinance on the Protection of Landmark Trees.

•Approved changes in the land-use pre-application phase to improve the process.

•Discussed the Sustainable Transportation Plan project’s impact on the climate. The Climate Change Action Committee will report back to the council on their findings.

•The council approved a proclamation honoring Veterans Day and also approved a proclamation celebrating the 30th anniversary of the city. And it approved a proclamation for Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance.

In another public comment, DeRosalia expressed that many in the city’s police department do not share the values of those who live on BI. He pointed out that while more than 80% of BI has received COVID-19 vaccinations, officers are more in the range of 60%. “That hammers home that the folks who protect us” do not share our beliefs,” he said.

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