Plastic Bag Ban: How Much Outreach Do You Really Need?

Ross Mirkarimi's bag legislation may have just gotten the sack
Mom. Apple pie. Patriotism. No politician who doesn't wish to receive a crash course in the joys of seeking employment with the private sector will dare find him or herself on the wrong side of these notions -- and the political goals they serve to cloak.

Add "outreach" to those three. It's "outreach" that's keeping San Francisco from adopting a plastic bag ban that actually does something about reducing bag consumption and helping the environment. It's "outreach" that may keep San Francisco from ever having a ban that's good for more than just grandstanding.

At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Jane Kim surprised bag ban architect Ross Mirkarimi by requesting months more time to conduct the aforementioned "outreach." What's more, this was outreach to "small businesspeople of color." In other words, in order to move along this legislation, a supervisor would have to open himself to charges he doesn't give a damn about keeping industrious minorities in the dark.

Never mind that Mirkarimi's legislation had already gotten the thumbs-up from the mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, the California Grocers Association, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, the Small Business Commission, the Chinatown Merchants Association, the Sunset Merchants, the Small Business Alliance, and others. And never mind that Kim was pushing to extended outreach for -- and we can't emphasize this enough -- legislation the board hasn't approved yet.

Of course the board voted to continue discussion of the legislation until February. It was the politically expedient thing to do.

In fact, letting the entire bag issue die might be the politically expedient thing to do. Mirkarimi is leaving the board to become San Francisco's vest-wearing sheriff, and his progressive colleagues have not been lining up to take on the burden of carrying this legislation. Without Mirkarimi pushing for a bag ban that actually reduces consumption and helps the environment, it may well not happen.

It certainly won't happen if the folks calling for more "outreach" at the 11th hour have their way.

Our outreach to Jane Kim has not yet resulted in a returned phone call. When that changes, we'll update this article.

Update, 4 p.m.: Jane Kim responded to our outreach. She claims that only one of the "eight or so" merchant groups she gleaned from a list of groups the Department of the Environment said it had reached out to had, in fact, received any outreach.

When asked what, then, the Department of the Environment was up to, Kim noted that the definition of "outreach" is malleable.

"We feel like this is an issue of respect," she says. "We want to talk to people prior to the vote rather than have them come to us afterward."

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George Pepper
George Pepper

I guess the best way to stop the use of plastic is by passing strict rules against use of plastic usage. How many people do you think know about the harmful effects of plastics? I bet probably over 75% of the overall population. How many do you think actually act? probably 5%. Yes, the message has been conveyed, but is it any helpful? think about it..


i think this is stupid that they are doing this and there forcing this on us when we didnt vote on this in the first place these rules are put out by some asshole goverment people who like to sit on there fat asses all day and make up dumb brainless rules all day its bad enough they make you pay for the bags instead of just giving it to you  for free its another way for theses idot governnent people to make money i  guess were paying for there lunches for them.what is this world coming to.ours government are bunch of idot people runing it.with laine brain idea man i moving to vegas and getting out of california.what an idot county we all lived in. this is such a joke and the joke is on us.

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