There’s some stuff that I’ve been wanting to mention, but not worth writing an entire blog about. So enjoy this little round-up of stuff on my mind.
Remember the plastic bag ban? In case you forgot, here’s the story so far. In June of 2007, Councilmembers Nancy Nadel and Jean Quan introduced an ordinance (PDF) banning plastic bags in Oakland. I was opposed to the plastic bag ban for a number of reasons.
The Council did not agree with my objections, and passed the ban, but implementation of the ordinance was delayed by a lawsuit. A group called the Coalition for Plastic Bag Recycling argued that the City was required by the California Environmental Quality Act to study the impact of the ban on the environment before adopting the ordinance (the idea being that since paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic bags, banning plastic bags would have a negative environmental impact because it would just cause people to use more paper bags). Nancy Nadel said there was no point to conducting an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), because it was impossible to predict whether people, when not given the option of plastic bags, would switch to paper bags or start bringing their own reusable bags instead.
In April, the court ruled in favor of the Coalition for Plastic Bag Recycling and granted an injunction against the plastic bag ban, saying the City would indeed have to conduct an EIR if it wanted to proceed with the ban. Despite the budget shortfall, Nancy Nadel said that we would not back down and that we would do the EIR. In July, the Council passed a resolution (PDF) supporting an Assembly bill that would impose a tax on plastic bags. Now, when the Council resumes session next Tuesday, they’re going to rescind the ban (PDF). What a good use of time and money all that was!
Downtown residents (and maybe those in other parts of the city, too – I wouldn’t know) got an unmistakable reminder that we’re back in election season this weekend in the form of enormous hideous signs promoting Kerry Hamill’s candidacy for the At-Large City Council seat plastered over basically every possible post or fence. The signs read “SAFE neighborhoods NOW” in huge yellow letters, next to a kind of bizarre photo of Hamill.
Opinions on the signs from Oakland residents varied widely. One wondered whether the image was intended to remind people of those Obama posters you see everywhere, while another questioned whether the picture might be evidence of inappropriate coordination between the Hamill campaign and the PAC that put up the signs. Yet another wasn’t sure if the photo was of Hamill at all, suggesting that it more closely resembled “some neglected 17 year old from Walnut Creek.” One simply offered “Those posters give me the CREEPS.”
I really wanted to see the new Kaiser Hospital discussion at the Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, so I totally rushed to get out of work and to City Hall as quickly as I possibly could. I even made it in time to catch the tail end of public comment on the Creekside EIR. Fun.
Anyway, the meeting was in the Council Chambers instead of the usual Hearing Room 1, and it had been a long night at work, so I was a little disoriented when I got there. They weren’t broadcasting the meeting video on the big overhead screen like they usually do, and there was all this stuff blocking my view, so I kept switching seats and moving around the room so that I’d be able to actually see what was going on. It took me like a good half hour to figure out that the reason I was could only see four Commissioners up on the dais no matter where I sat was because only four of them were there.
Despite the Mayor’s incessant boasting of making it one of his priorities to fully staff all the Boards and Commissions, Dellums has let Planning Commissioner Suzie Lee’s seat sit vacant for months, ever since her term expired (PDF) on May 5th. And much like the man who put them there, both of Dellums’s appointees to the Commission were absent. I probably shouldn’t complain too much, since I don’t like Galvez or Huntsman very much and it always bothered me that Lee and I have the same hairstyle, so the half a Commission we were left with was the better half. But still…half a Planning Commission! That’s no good!
My favorite San Francisco blogger loves Ron Dellums! I feel betrayed!
And finally, a plea for help from my readers. At the Montclair Jazz and Wine Festival on Sunday, one of the vendors was selling a black t-shirt that said “Oakland” in white gothic looking letters, and then beneath that, also in white, was an image of two container cranes inside an outline of a kind of shield-like shape. I thought about buying one, but then decided not to, then once I got home, I decided that I really wanted it after all, and was totally kicking myself for not getting it. Does anyone know were I can find these? A store that stocks them, or a website I can buy them from? Another upcoming event they might be at?
- And here’s something that doesn’t annoy me at all. I have an awesome new guest post from Sean Sullivan, about La Esperanza, a new grocery story in West Oakland. Go read it!