BI looks at law for waste reduction

  • Monday, October 18, 2021 9:05am
  • News
The Bainbridge Island City Council continues to work on a plastics and other waste ordinance. Courtesy Photo

Bainbridge Island city staff is drafting up an ordinance on plastic and waste reduction.

The City Council voiced its approval of the move at last week’s meeting.

The recommendations were put together by a variety of community stakeholders, including business, environment and city leaders.

Councilmember Joe Deets said it’s a broad group that wants to reduce waste meaningfully. The goal is to use as many products as possible that naturally decompose in the ground or water. Some products may not even be available yet, but should be used once they are.

Most of the rules would go into effect July 1, 2022, but Councilmember Leslie Schneider said there is flexibility in that. She said the city plans to have available $50,000 to incentivize use of the changes, which “could be a godsend to businesses dealing with COVID.”

Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said the effort also would involved a huge marketing campaign. “This is a big ask of a small city,” she said.

In looking over the draft, Mayor Rasham Nassar said she wants to make sure at least one warning is given before a business is fined for noncompliance. The draft says $250 a day.

City manager Blair King said there usually is a grace period of time to alert businesses because education is the emphasis.

Measures include:

*25 cent charge for disposable cups, but customers can bring their own.

*On-site dining requires reusable dishes and utensils.

*Lodging establishments use refillable personal care products dispensers and soap bars rather than plastic bottles filled with things like shampoo.

*Exclusive use of compostable materials for take-out items

*Disposal of plastic food service ware would be prohibited as it can’t be recycled, threatens human health and the ocean is full of it.

During public comments, Heather Trim of Zero waste said, “You guys are leaders in sustainability.” She said there has been a ton of innovation in product reuse, and that’s better for the environment and human health.

Also, the council discussed a multifamily property tax exemption to encourage developers to build affordable housing. The city is looking at 12- and 20-year programs.

Councilmember Michael Pollock said the longer-period program is a “no brainer” because a family of four can make up to $78,300 to qualify. But he and others weren’t as impressed with the shorter timeframe, as a family of four could make up to $108,215 a year, which some said shouldn’t really qualify for affordable housing. He wondered if the city could make the 12-year plan also available for the lower monetary amount.

On both instances a nonprofit or government would own the land, and the homebuyer the house.

Schneider said the program might attrack nonprofit developers, but not for-profit ones. “We have to find a way to attract developers or the city will have to pay,” to get affordable housing done.

During public comments Sal DeRosalia and Phaedra Elliott applauded the council for targeting $3.75 million in federal COVID funding on affordable housing.

DeRosalia said it took some noise over a number of years but the goal finally was met. “Look what happens when we try to find a solution,” he said, adding it’s inspiring to accomplish things together. He said homelessness is a bigger problem than people know. “When the leaves start falling off the trees we will see people sleeping everywhere.”

Phaedra Elliott of Housing Resources Bainbridge said she was downright “giddy” about the funding. She said thanks to the money an affordable housing project in the heart of Winslow – where it belongs – can be moved up two years.

Also in public comment, Ashley Mathews said she was happy to see diversity training on the agenda. She also suggested councilmembers check out Government Alliance on Race and Equity training online. She’s afraid the effort is “losing traction when we’re standing at the edge of effective, real change.”

In other news, the council OK’d the city to accept loans for $4.5 million for Winslow water tank replacement and $2.5 million for the West Eagle Harbor Sewer Complex Project at the low interest rate of .94%.

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