Around Town | March 8, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 8, 2013

Around Town

FLOATING AWAY ... It began at local supermarkets. Now, Palo Alto's war against the plastic bag is set to spread to every other food and retail business in the city. At its Monday meeting, the City Council is scheduled to take its most dramatic step against the floating creek-polluter when it certifies an environmental analysis and passes a new ordinance banning the bag from delis, restaurants, catering trucks and all other food-serving establishments. In doing so, Palo Alto will be following the lead of dozens of other California communities, including San Francisco and Santa Cruz County. According to a new city report, 65 cities and counties in the state have adopted some sort of plastic-bag ban since 2009, the year Palo Alto passed its ordinance prohibiting plastic bags in supermarkets. Another 24 cities along the Peninsula are considering such bans this year. Under Palo Alto's new proposal, stores will be prohibited from providing single-use plastic checkout bags (as opposed to those plastic "produce bags" that are used for fruit and vegetables, which would still be kosher). They would also be required to charge at least 10 cents for a recyclable paper bag or a reusable checkout bag. The fee would move up to 25 cents a year after the ban takes effect. Palo Alto's latest efforts to ban the bag will likely invite further opposition from the industry, which filed a lawsuit against the city after the 2009 supermarket ban. As part of the settlement, the city agreed to conduct a full environmental-impact report before it makes further bans. The council is scheduled to review and approve this report Monday evening. The city has been having a hard time getting its famously green residents to switch to reusable bags (the percentage of people using such bags went up from 9 percent to 25 percent shortly after it was instituted but has remained largely flat since). Still, there are some hopeful signs. According to the new report, a 2012 survey showed that about one third of Palo Alto's food establishments already use paper exclusively, with many more using a combination of paper and plastic.

A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER ... Palo Alto has no shortage of grand plans when it comes to bridges, from a proposal to construct a $10 million bike-and-pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 101 at Adobe Creek to a controversial plan to expand the narrow Newell Road bridge along the border with East Palo Alto. All the bridge hoopla doesn't sit well with some Crescent Park residents, whose neighborhood suffered heavy damage in the flood of 1998 when water spilled over the narrow Pope-Chaucer Bridge in their neighborhood. Norman Beamer, president of the Crescent Park Neighborhood Association, expressed the neighborhood's frustration in a recent email to the city, writing that he "can't help feeling frustrated that the city has not come up with $10 million for fixing the Chaucer Ave. bridge, which in its current state actually floods people's houses, and threatens human life, as opposed to inconveniencing cyclists." The good news for Crescent Park is that help is on the way. City Manager James Keene replied to Beamer that the Pope-Chaucer Bridge has secured funding and "is currently in design, with a completion of construction by 2015/2016" — a year after the Newell Road Bridge is reconstructed, Keene wrote. "This is a cause of celebration." Keene also warned against lumping all the bridge projects into one argument. "The City has always placed the utmost priority on addressing the flooding problems, including these crucial bridge projects which will now happen," he wrote. "It is mistaken anyway to confuse these with the bike pedestrian bridge, which has a separate funding source — not needed for Pope-Chaucer anyway but also not fungible."

KEEP ON TRUCKIN' ... Fans of gourmet, food-truck eats may have a new — or in some ways, old — place to nosh on Monday nights in Palo Alto. Edgewood Eats, the ever-changing congregation of food trucks that's served up Vietnamese sandwiches, blackened chicken chimichangas, tacos and more, used to operate out of the defunct Edgewood Plaza shopping center near U.S. Highway 101. The monthly gathering ended when renovation of the plaza began, but now organizers are reviving it several blocks away, at the First Congregational Church of Palo Alto on Embarcadero Road. The new Edgewood Eats, which is still pending approval by the city, is expected to launch on Monday, March 18, and continue weekly. Dining hours will be 5 to 8 p.m., and each month, a charity will receive at least 5 percent of the proceeds.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 9, 2013 at 12:12 am

The plastic bag story in another example of the shoddy, one-sided and unbalanced writing that has become the norm on the pages of the weekly. The weekly parrots the claims of the " environmentalists" by stating that plastic bags are creek polluters-- even though there has not been a study showing how many bags were in our creeks and if the ban on platic grocery bags has decreased the number found in creeks. Yet the weekly prints what the environmental lobby feeds them!
Then they claim that the bags are single use, when it is clear that most people reuse these bags for other purposes-- once again regurgitating the pap that the environmental lobby tells them to print.
By now we should take whatever we read in the weekly with a grain of salt, taking into account the people behind the story and whetherbtheynhave a business relationship with the weekly.
I see plenty of copies of the weekly littering the street--- maybe we should ban the weekly for the sake of our environment.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

This is taking nonsense too far.

If I buy my lunch at a deli and get a plastic bag which doesn't leak I keep my lunch in it and can use it as a trash bag afterwards. A paper bag would leak, disintegrate and tear too easily. It may not last until a trash can could be found so trash may be left wherever I eat it. My car, my clothes and probably my backpack would get filthy from what the paper bag leaks.

If I buy most loaves of bread, they are double wrapped. Why? Bread does not leak. Ban double wrapped bread.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2013 at 9:20 am

Maybe they can get Trader Joe's to stop wastefully doubling paper bags.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm

This has been doing the rounds on facebook recently and it is worth reading.

At the cash register of the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own shopping bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations. You didn't have the green thing."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soft drink bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycling. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every shop and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wrapped up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gas just to cut the lawn.. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right. We didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank water from a faucet when we were thirsty instead of demanding a plastic bottle flown in from another country. We accepted that a lot of food was seasonal and didn't expect that to be trucked in or flown thousands of air miles. We actually cooked food that didn't come out of a packet, can or plastic wrap and we could even wash our own vegetables and chop our own salad.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, city people took the tram or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person.


Don't make old people mad.

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to p**s us off.

Posted by TimH, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Excellent post, "Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood"! :) I will second that 100% of you wrote is true, and that it really was not THAT long ago when these "not green thing" examples were commonplace. To postscript, how about the "new" Palo Alto "thing" to use air conditioning not just in offices and stores but also EVERYWHERE from home, car and those silly "personal" versions that people wear on their necks while walking around T&C? ;) Great job.