Local

Lacey City Council wants plastic bag ban survey to include public

Lacey City Council members discuss a letter they plan to send to the Thurston County Board of Commissioners during their work session Thursday night.
Lacey City Council members discuss a letter they plan to send to the Thurston County Board of Commissioners during their work session Thursday night. rboone@theolympian.com

Although the plastic bag ban issue has divided the Lacey City Council, council members were in agreement Thursday that Thurston County’s recent bag ban survey is flawed.

That’s because the survey, which got underway in May, surveyed retailers but not the public. The council wants to change that.

So, following Thursday’s council meeting, councilmembers adjourned to a work session and then proofread a draft letter they plan to send to the Thurston County Board of Commissioners.

The letter will ask commissioners to “reconsider its position to exclude the public survey from the plastic bag progress report.” Once the letter is finished, Mayor Andy Ryder said he will deliver the document in person at a commission meeting.

“I will read the letter into the record so they know it’s coming from the entire council and that we’re serious about it,” he said.

Plastic carryout shopping bags have been banned in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and unincorporated Thurston County since July 1, 2014.

But it hasn’t been an easy ride in Lacey, where there have been at least three attempts by the council to put the bag ban before voters. Each time, though, the ban was upheld.

Councilmembers Jason Hearn, Lenny Greenstein and Virgil Clarkson are in favor of Lacey residents deciding the fate of the ban. Council members Jeff Gadman, Cynthia Pratt, Andy Ryder and Michael Steadman have felt otherwise.

“Despite the lack of unanimity amongst Lacey council members on the issue of plastic bags, there was genuine interest by all council members to solicit a clear opinion from the public,” the draft letter reads.

The letter continues: “Unfortunately, a decision was made to hire a professional consultant to engage the retail community but to exclude the public on this topic. It is unclear from the records established by the Solid Waste Advisory Committee why this occurred. A public survey was originally included in the draft scope of work within the request for proposals for the bag ban evaluation report — then later removed.”

It wasn’t immediately clear when Ryder plans to deliver the letter. All seven council members need to sign it, but Greenstein was absent Thursday night.

City Manager Scott Spence said he expects the results of the retail survey in July.

  Comments